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December 31, 2014

Online clamor over fatal bike crash includes calls for Cook to resign

The Baltimore Brew

[with video]

Fern Shen December 31, 2014

In the wake of the revelation that Episcopal Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook drove off after she hit a bicyclist who later died, calls for her to be arrested and to step down from the church hierarchy have been mounting.

The Facebook page “Charge Bishop Heather Cook with Homicide” has 1,804 likes and, at the top of the page right now, is an open letter from cyclist Vince Harriman calling on Cook to resign as Bishop Suffragan.

“This is your chance to say to the world as a person, as a priest, as a bishop, that you believe in what you say about personal responsibility,” Harriman wrote.

Putting extra pressure on Cook is her high-profile spiritual role as the No. 2 official in the Maryland Diocese, serving directly under Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton.

Cook’s own words in sermons have added a ghastly irony to the current situation.

Tulare priest charged with embezzlement

Fresno Bee

The Fresno Bee
December 31, 2014

The former leader of St. Rita’s Catholic Church in Tulare is being charged with embezzlement, officials from the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno announced Wednesday.

The Tulare County District Attorney filed the charges against the the Rev. Ignacio Villafan after being contacted by the diocese, which discovered financial discrepancies under Villafan’s watch, officials from the church say.

Villafan was removed from his position at St. Rita’s in 2012 after the discrepancies were discovered. Teresa Dominguez, chancellor for the diocese, said Father Ivan Hernandez took over for Villafan in late 2013. A resume provided by Dominguez shows Villafan previously worked at St. Anne’s Church in Porterville, St. John the Evangelist Parish in Tipton and St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Cutler.

Dominguez referred all questions about the case to the Tulare District Attorney’s office. Officials did not immediately return phone messages left by The Bee on Wednesday.

Embezzlement charges filed against Tulare priest

ABC 30

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) --
The Tulare County District Attorney's Office has filed embezzlement charges against Rev. Ignacio Villafan following an investigation by the Tulare Police Department.

In a statement, Diocesan officials said, "[...] evidence of financial improprieties was brought to their attention and verified by an outside accounting firm dating back to the time that Rev. Villafan was pastor."

Pending the outcome of the investigation, Rev. Villafan was immediately removed from administrative duties, according to the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno.

Woolf abuse inquiry predecessor defends New Year honour


Criticism of the New Year honour awarded to former Lord Mayor of London Fiona Woolf, a few months after she was forced to resign as chair of the Government's child sexual abuse inquiry, is "very unfair", her inquiry predecessor has said.

Baroness Butler-Sloss defended the damehood awarded to Ms Woolf, saying the "very least that the honours system could do would be to honour a woman who has got such a distinguished post".

Fiona Woolf misled the Home Secretary over her links with Leon Brittan, caused unnecessary distress to victims of child abuse and caused a lengthy and avoidable delay to a very serious inquiry that urgently needs to get started.


Row over damehood for ousted abuse inquiry chair

The Times

Jenny Booth

Senior figures have sprung to the defence of Fiona Woolf, after she was criticised for accepting a damehood in the new year’s honours list despite her forced exit as the head of the government’s child sex abuse inquiry.

The retired judge Baroness Butler-Sloss said it was “very unfair” of MPs Simon Danczuk and Tom Watson to criticise the honour, and warned that if abuse survivors continued to veto potential leaders of the abuse inquiry then there was a risk the investigation would never get off the ground at all.

Cardinal George dropped from experimental cancer treatment

National Catholic Reporter

Stephanie Yeagle | Dec. 31, 2014

Chicago Cardinal Francis George has been dropped from the experimental cancer treatment program at the University of Chicago, according to a press release from the Chicago archdiocese's Department of Communications and Public Relations.

"Recent scans showed that this experimental drug has not been effective in his case, but the physicians and others who are overseeing this trial assured him that the information that they had gathered during his course of treatment will be of benefit to others," the statement said.

The statement added that George will meet with his physicians at Loyola University Hospital in January to discuss next steps. So far, the cancer has not spread to any vital organs, according to the statement.

2015 — The Beginning of the End of Vatican Scandals?

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

2015 begins with some hopeful developments:

* A prominent UK judge and and former head of a national investigation panel admits that the UK establishment covered up child abuse by members of the establishment’s elite. This adds a powerful impetus to the increasing calls for a thorough and transparent UK investigation, including of the Vatican’s seeming complicity in UK priest child abuse cover-ups.

* The USA’s Minneapolis Archdiocese appears about to explode. It reportedly is seemingly drifting into imminent bankruptcy that will possibly lead to a new bishop being put in charge. This likely could have negative repercussions for a key former official, Fr. Kevin McDonough, brother of President Obama’s Chief of Staff Denis McDonough.

* A Belgian bishop has boldly and squarely called on the Vatican to recognize gay relationships. Will the Vatican respond soon? Will any journalists ask them about this? Are things really about to change for the Vatican and elsewhere? For more information, please see my remarks below and see:

* [Express]

* [Canonical Consultation]

* [Bilgrimage]

* Significantly, on his present path, Pope Francis will in ten months after his October Synod likely be “flushed out” on changing sexual morality teachings. Thereafter, unless he acts decisively, his folksy public relations spin will probably lose much of its appeal and seem even more contrived, as reality raises its truthful head.

* The previous “media star” pope, John Paul II, experienced a similar decline in public image among many, as reality overtook his rhetoric. He benefited during much of his papacy, of course, from the absence of the current Internet and the 24/7 cable news cycle, so it took longer for reality to overtake John Paul II’s well performed rhetoric.

* Interestingly, Pope Francis has had a long ‘honeymoon period” with Catholics. He followed “bad acts” from the era of “popes can do no evil” — two failed popes about whom we are learning much that is disturbing. They evidently presided over an often immoral, if not at times criminal, operation at the Vatican. Francis could only “go up in the polls” initially after them. For almost two years, his folksy rhetoric, winning smile, symbolic gestures and vague promises have offered faint hope for many of the millions of disgusted, even despairing, Catholics whom he inherited upon his election in early 2013.

The Case of the Drunk-Driving Bishop

The American Conservative

By ROD DREHER • December 31, 2014

Terrible story from Baltimore. Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook hit a cyclist with her car, and sped away. He died. Then the story got a lot more complicated:

First Sunday came the news that the driver in the crash was a bishop — the No. 2 Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Maryland — which initially drew a national audience intrigued by the moral complications of a high-ranking clergy possibly abandoning someone who was hurt. Then Monday and Tuesday came additional detail about an ugly 2010 drunk driving arrest involving Cook, then a priest. Police records show she was so drunk she couldn’t even complete the sobriety tests, had apparently thrown up on her shirt while driving and was driving on only three wheels as one tire had been worn to its rims.

The fact that top church leaders involved in picking Cook as bishop knew of the 2010 incident — though they didn’t share the information with all people voting — intensely divided people who took to the Web to debate whether it should have immediately disqualified her from becoming a bishop.

We don’t yet know if police believe Bishop Cook was drunk when she hit and killed the cyclist, Thomas Palermo, father of two small children. She has not yet been charged. More about the incident:

Many Baltimore-area cyclists have been focused since Saturday on the case, noting that Cook left the scene after the 2:30 p.m. crash, despite having a heavily broken windshield. Sutton’s letter said Cook returned to the scene “after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.” However, cyclists on several Baltimore news and biking sites said that her car was chased by other cyclists and that she returned only because of that.

In the 2010 drunk driving incident, police records show, Cook confessed to the police that she had been smoking marijuana too. The Washington Post reports that the incident has sparked debate among Episcopalians about whether or not Cook ought to have been ordained a bishop with that severe drunk driving incident in her past, especially in her recent past. How on earth did church leaders involved in tapping her for the episcopate do so in spite of what they knew?

Forgiveness is at the heart of the Christian faith, obviously, but to forgive someone doesn’t require you to be blind to their tendencies toward serious sin. Didn’t the Episcopalians learn a thing from the Catholic scandal? Yes, forgive the repentant, but Cook very clearly had a terrible drinking problem in 2010. Maybe she got treatment for it; we don’t know yet. Still, why wasn’t alcoholism and drug use considered a disqualifying factor for the episcopate, considering the irreproachable character bishops are supposed to have?

Abusive Coaches: Lawmaker Says Oregon Could Crack Down More

Willemette Week

December 19th, 2014 | Beth Slovic

This week's edition of WW looks at Central Catholic High School's football team and the hiring practices that allowed the high school to twice hire coaches who faced sexual misconduct allegations at prior schools.

The story noted that Central Catholic is not alone in Oregon in facing challenges when it comes to keeping tabs on coaches. The state doesn't require teaching licenses to coach school sports, for example. That means that the state regulators who discipline teachers at the Teacher Standards and Practices Commission have no jurisdiction over coaches. Meanwhile, the TSPC can discipline teachers even if they don't face criminal charges for abuse.

In 2009, the Legislature enacted a number of changes to state law that attempted to end the practice of "passing the trash" among school districts—that is, keeping quiet about an educator's past when a new school district tries to hire that person.

One component of the 2009 changes affects more than just teachers. It now requires schools to tell a past employee's new employer about "substantiated" claims of abuse, including sexual abuse, by the employee. That rules covers coaches, too.

Ex-chairman of VIP paedophile inquiry claims establishment 'covered up child sex abuse'



The retired judge was appointed in July by Home Secretary Theresa May to lead the investigation into child abuse claims at institutions across the country, and how allegations were dealt with by authorities.

Elizabeth Butler-Sloss stood down less than a week after her appointment amid claims of a conflict of interest, as her brother, Sir Michael Havers, was Attorney-General during the 1980s when some of the alleged abuse occurred.

This morning, the 81-year-old said she took on the role as she felt it was her 'duty'.

She said: "I do believe the establishment has in the past looked after itself, partly because people did not really recognise the seriousness of child abuse and they did not think it was so important, and it was important to protect members of the establishment.

"So I would want to go in with a knife and cut the whole thing open and expose it, as to what happened, bearing in mind, of course, that the views of those people are not the views of people today and that is a difficulty.

Butler-Sloss: victims should not run child abuse inquiry

The Guardian

Patrick Wintour, political editor
Wednesday 31 December 2014

Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the appeal court judge forced to stand down as chair of the government child abuse inquiry, has said she fears the government will never be able to find an experienced figure to run the investigation, but that victims should not think they can do it.

Butler-Sloss was forced to stand down as the chair of the broad inquiry into child abuse in July because her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s and his actions would have been subject to investigation by the inquiry.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday she said she was adamant that the establishment had covered up its role in child abuse. “I do believe the establishment has in the past looked after itself, partly because people did not really recognise the seriousness of child abuse and they did not think it was so important, and it was important to protect members of the establishment.

“So I would want to go in with a knife and cut the whole thing open and expose it, bearing in mind of course that the views of those people are different to people today. That is a difficulty, but I don’t believe I was unsuitable to do it because as a judge with 35 years’ experience on the bench I was quite able to be independent and say that people got it wrong and be critical of them.”

She said that would be true even if some of the people she had to criticise were close to her. “That is the way I was trained,” she insisted, but added, “I absolutely understand the public do not believe it.”
buse cases – for them to be deciding who should be the person chairing it creates real problems.”

Baroness Butler-Sloss on abuse inquiry controversy

BBC News

[with video]

31 December 2014

Baroness Butler-Sloss says she agreed to chair an inquiry into historical child abuse because she felt it was her duty and that she was "quite able to be independent and say that people had got it wrong and to be critical of them".

She later stood down from the role, under pressure to quit from MPs and victims concerned about her family links.

Baroness Butler-Sloss was the guest editor of the Today programme on Wednesday.

Victims tell Butler-Sloss: don’t blame us for child abuse inquiry mistakes

The Guardian

Rowena Mason, political correspondent
Wednesday 31 December 2014

Lady Elizabeth Butler-Sloss, the high court judge forced to stand down as chair of the government child abuse inquiry, has been criticised for suggesting survivors are at risk of causing problems with the investigation.

Peter Saunders, the chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), hit back after Butler-Sloss warned it would be difficult to find a chair for the inquiry who was sufficiently removed from the establishment to satisfy victims groups. Both Butler-Sloss and the City lawyer Dame Fiona Woolf resigned from the role after survivors of abuse objected to their links to senior Westminster politicians.

However, Saunders said Butler-Sloss was wrong to imply survivors were holding the government hostage over the selection of the chair, when it was the Home Office that had made two bad choices.

Survivor groups just wanted to get to the truth and for the process to be overseen by an appropriate candidate with no conflicts of interest, he said.

Butler-Sloss stepped down in July because her late brother Sir Michael Havers had been attorney general in the 1980s and his actions would have been subject to investigation by the inquiry. Her successor, Woolf, was also forced to resign because she was a friend and neighbour of Leon Brittan, who was home secretary at the time of the alleged child abuse.

Speaking on BBC Radio 4 on Tuesday, Butler-Sloss said she worried that “the victims and survivors – for who I have the most enormous sympathy, and as a judge I tried a great many child abuse cases – for them to be deciding who should be the person chairing it creates real problems”.

She suggested that anyone qualified to chair such an inquiry would have experience that would lead him or her to be branded as being part of the establishment.

There WAS an Establishment cover-up of child abuse ...

Daily Mail

There WAS an Establishment cover-up of child abuse as the powerful looked after themselves, says former inquiry chief


There was an Establishment cover-up of horrific child abuse because powerful figures looked after themselves, former judge Lady Butler-Sloss warned today.

Senior members of British society in the past did not think child abuse was as serious or important as protecting politicians and other members of the elite, she suggested.

Lady Butler-Sloss was forced to quit as chairman of the wide-ranging inquiry into allegations of a cover-up because her brother was in the Cabinet in the 1980s.

But she insisted if she had stayed in post and been able to run the inquiry she would have 'cut the whole thing open'.

Lady Butler-Sloss's resignation in July came less than a week after David Cameron agreed to an inquiry into allegations that politicians, the police, the judiciary, celebrities, the BBC, the NHS and the Church conspired to cover-up abuse over several decades.

Dame Butler-Sloss abuse inquiry comments spark anger

BBC News

31 December 2014

Baroness Butler-Sloss has cautioned against giving victims too much influence over who runs the planned inquiry into historical child abuse.

The retired judge, who stepped down as head of the public inquiry, said there could be "real problems" if they were to decide who is its eventual chair, but her comments have angered some victims' groups.

Anti-abuse campaigner Phil Frampton said that he was "appalled" at the idea that "victims can't take a rational view".

Butler-Sloss cautions over victims' role in abuse inquiry

BBC News

Baroness Butler-Sloss has cautioned against giving victims too much influence over who runs the planned inquiry into historical child abuse.

The retired judge, who stepped down as head of the public inquiry, said there could be "real problems" if they were to decide who is its eventual chair.

She also told BBC Radio 4 she has "enormous sympathy" for the victims.

The home secretary will decide who heads the inquiry, but the government says she wants to hear victims' views.

A Home Office spokesman said Home Secretary Theresa May is "absolutely committed" the inquiry has the "confidence of survivors... to ensure the right person is appointed".

The inquiry, sparked by claims of paedophiles operating in Westminster in the 1980s, is set to investigate whether "public bodies and other non-state institutions have taken seriously their duty of care to protect children from sexual abuse in England and Wales".

Catholic Belgian Bishop Calls For ‘Formal Recognition’ Of Gay Couples In The Church

International Business Times

By Zoe Mintz

A Catholic bishop in Belgium has called for ecclesiastical recognition of same-sex couples within the Roman Catholic Church. Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, Belgium, shared his thoughts in an interview for De Morgen, a Belgian newspaper, on Dec. 27.

“Indeed, we need to seek a formal recognition of the kind of relationship that exists between many gay and lesbian couples,” Bonny said according to the National Catholic Reporter. “Does that recognition have to be a sacramental marriage? Perhaps the church could much better reflect on a diversity of forms of relationships. One has the same kind of discussion about civil marriages. In Belgium the same model (for civil marriages) exists for man-woman relations as well as for same-sex relations.”

He noted, "The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty and care are central to each other."

Bonny wil kerkelijke erkenning holebi's

De Morgen


De Antwerpse bisschop Johan Bonny pleit voor een kerkelijke erkenning van holebirelaties. Het dogma dat de katholieke kerk alleen man-vrouwrelaties kan aanvaarden, stelt hij in een interview met deze krant in vraag. "Er moet een diversiteit aan erkenningsvormen komen."

Met zijn pleidooi is Bonny een van de eerste kerkelijke leiders die het absolute monopolie van het man-vrouwhuwelijk openbreekt. "We moeten binnen de kerk zoeken naar een formele erkenning van de relationaliteit die ook bij veel holebikoppels aanwezig is. Zoals er ook in de samenleving een diversiteit aan legale kaders bestaat voor partners, moet er in de kerk een diversiteit aan erkenningsvormen komen."

A Priest's Dying Declaration In Prison

Big Trial

By Ralph Cipriano
for Bigtrial.net

The night before Father Charles Engelhardt died, a fellow inmate claims, the priest gave a dying declaration:

"Paul, I do not feel well. Please understand that I am an innocent man, who was wrongly convicted."

On Dec. 22, the inmate, Paul H. Eline, a former Temple Law student, filed as an intervenor with the state Superior Court in the case of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania v. Charles Engelhardt, appellant. In his application for third party intervention, Eline wrote that the matters he was bringing to the court's attention were "critical and constitute 'extraordinary circumstances' " that should be made part of the record.

At the time of his death last month, Engelhardt was an inmate at the State Correctional Institution in Coal Township, Northumberland County. The 67-year-old priest had served nearly two years of a 6-to-12 year-sentence after being convicted on Jan. 30, 2013 of endangering the welfare of a child, corruption of a minor and indecent assault. His accuser, however, a former altar boy dubbed Billy Doe, told an incredible and constantly changing story that was subsequently refuted by evidence gathered by the district attorney's own detectives. The priest died during an ambulance ride on the way to Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. while his conviction was under appeal with the state Superior Court.

Under federal rules of evidence, a dying declaration is an exception to the hearsay rule and is admissible as evidence in criminal homicide or civil cases. In his court filing, inmate Eline argues that in his final moments of life the priest had no reason to lie.

The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VIII)


Grant Gallicho December 31, 2014

This is the conclusion of a series of posts on the Urrutigoity case. Read the first part here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, the fifth here, the sixth here, and the seventh here.

“I want to assure everyone,” Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano wrote in 2008, “that I have never hidden or protected anyone convicted of any crime.” The bishop was attempting to quell the outcry of Catholics in Ciudad del Este, Paraguay, over his decision to invite an accused priest and his followers—the Society of St. John—to establish themselves in his diocese. “My track record in these cases is very clear,” Livieres continued. “Just as I have not hesitated to convict the guilty, neither will I punish an innocent victim of slander.” The victim, according to Livieres, was Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity, an Argentine native who has been followed by allegations of sexual misconduct across three countries over three decades.

That troubling history, readily available to anyone with an internet connection, made it difficult for many Ciudad del Este Catholics to take their bishop at his word. So in 2009 they mounted a campaign against him, enlisting the support of other Paraguayan bishops and priests, who took the case to Pope Benedict XVI. But, unbeknownst to them, Livieres claimed to have the support of Benedict—in part because of their shared fondness for the Latin Mass. Livieres’s critics would not receive a satisfying response to their complaints until Benedict retired—and Pope Francis was elected.

Livieres was installed as bishop of Ciudad del Este in 2004. Before he even arrived, Livieres—a member of the conservative Catholic group Opus Dei—caused consternation among the bishops, priests, and laypeople of Paraguay. The bishops were surprised by John Paul II’s decision to appoint Livieres because his name was not on the terna—the list of three names recommended by the local bishops conference. Soon after Livieres took over in Ciudad del Este, more than one hundred fifty clerics wrote to Pope Benedict XVI to protest the bishop’s “renewal of church discipline” and “new pastoral guidelines,” as Livieres would later put it. But Benedict did not respond, according an account Livieres wrote in 2014. Instead, Benedict told him to “form a new clergy,” according to the bishop. He took that advice, and established his own seminary. That failed to go over with other bishops, who wanted to know what was wrong with the main seminary in Asunción.

Livieres also clashed with his fellow bishops over the candidacy of former bishop Fernando Armindo Lugo Méndez, who ran for president of Paraguay in 2008—and won. Lugo had ties to the liberation-theology movement, which Livieres long opposed. But Livieres also criticized Lugo for fathering children before he left the episcopate—and his brother bishops for remaining “silent” about it. During a radio interview, the archbishop of Asunción, Pastor Cuquejo Verga, publicly called for the Vatican to investigate Livieres. In a follow-up interview, Livieres rebuffed Cuquejo’s suggestion, and called him a homosexual.

Number of Catholics growing throughout the world

Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) The number of Catholics in the world has increased with growth registered across all five continents. The figures are taken by the Fides news agency from the latest edition of the Church’s Book of Statistics updated to 31 December 2012. These show that on that date the number of Catholics in the world stood at 1,228,621,000 with an overall increase of more than 15,000,000 compared to the previous year. The Americas and Africa registered the biggest increases followed by Asia, Europe and Oceania. The world percentage of Catholics stood at 17.49 %, a decrease of 0.01% compared to the end of 2011.

The total number of priests in the world increased by 895 to 414,313. Europe once again registered the largest decrease (-1,375) followed by the Americas (-90) and Oceania (-80). In Africa the number of priests grew by 1,076 and in Asia by 1,364.

There was an overall decrease in the number of women religious worldwide, whose numbers dropped by 10,677 to 702,529. Once again Africa and Asia showed increases whilst Europe and the Americas showed the biggest decrease in the number of women religious.

At Year End: the State of the See of Saint Paul (and Minneapolis)

Canonical Consultation

Jennifer Haselberger


With the new year upon us, I thought I would take a moment to summarize some of the issues that have plagued the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis over the past year, and to provide some context as to what we can expect moving forward. Minnesota Public Radio did its own assessment, 'A year in the life of the Twin Cities Archdiocese', as did the AP. The AP story, which highlighted events of national importance and described how they played out in Minnesota, placed the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis under the category of 'Clergy Sex Abuse'.

Yet the sexual abuse scandal is only one part (albeit an incredibly significant one) of the overall shaky state of affairs in the Archdiocese. Lest anyone forget, the Archdiocese's financial problems began long before the passage of the Minnesota Child Victims Act, and the poor management, lack of effective oversight, and general dysfunction that weakened child protection efforts also fostered an embezzlement scheme that lasted more than a decade and involved many more individuals than the one that was prosecuted (and much higher dollar amounts than the Archdiocese wants to admit and the statute of limitations will allow to be prosecuted). As I see it, the current crisis is only a visible symptom of a much larger, chronic problem that went largely undetected (or at least unreported) until September of 2013.

These are the issues about which I expect we will be hearing in 2015.

1). Bankruptcy

Several people with an interest in this matter have told me that they are anticipating a bankruptcy filing sometime in January. As we have been told repeatedly, if such an event would occur the reorganization would impact only the central archdiocesan corporation and not the daily operations of the parishes and affiliated charities. In truth, however, no one will really know what is impacted until the matter goes before a judge and until it is clear that creditors (possibly plaintiffs) will not seek compensation from or attempt to challenge the organizational structure of parishes and other separate but affiliated organizations.

The Archdiocese is currently suing its insurance carriers and, as most of you are aware, it has been encouraging pastors to enter into an agreement for joint representation with an attorney of its choice in order to pursue payment on similar policies held by parishes and/or in order to try and reach a global settlement with claimants. It is unclear at this time how many parishes intend to join. I say 'unclear' not because I don't know, but because the Archdiocese doesn't know. Just yesterday an email went out to pastors providing updated information about how to join, and advising them that the 'steering committee' for the effort will be chosen from among those who have 'joined the group' by December 31, 2014. My general knowledge of priests suggests that the effect of this message will be to ensure that very few join before January 1, as most- in my experience- are unlikely to join any effort that may result in them having to attend more meetings.

2). Investigation into Archbishop Nienstedt

At this time last year, the public was informed that Archbishop John Nienstedt was being investigated by law enforcement for possible inappropriate touching of a minor during a confirmation ceremony. What the public was not told was that he was also being investigated internally for additional allegations involving priests, former priests, and seminarians. That investigation apparently continues, with at least two outside attorneys being hired to, depending on who you ask, either redact the previously sworn statements or 'tie up loose ends'.

This phase of the investigation is under the direction of Bishop Piche, which has led me to two questions which will hopefully be answered in the coming year. First, when will the report of the Greene and Espel investigation be made public? Second, who is redacting/tying up the loose ends when it comes to questions involving Piche himself, or to others with whom he is so closely associated that it would be impossible to imagine him being objective?

I know that I was not alone in being questioned about Bishop Piche and the current Chancellor for Civil Affairs, Joe Kueppers, during earlier phases of the Nienstedt investigation. Both men have close associations with Father Curtis Wehmeyer that predate their work at the Chancery. Piche was Wehmeyer's pastor at Saint Joseph and received early reports of his inappropriate conduct with minors at the parish school. The Archbishop should have been informed of this knowledge at the time that I was counseling the Archbishop against appointing Wehmeyer pastor, as he should have been urged to act on the information that Piche received in 2012 and 2013 indicating Wehmeyer had drugs and a gun on parish/school property. Bishop Piche was also on the Board of Trustees at the University of St Thomas- appointed to serve as a conduit between the Board and the Archbishop- during the years in which the University was kept in the dark regarding the nature of the allegations against Father Michael Keating. Joe Kueppers, who knew Bishop Piche and Father Wehmeyer from their time at Saint Joseph, assisted Wehmeyer with his legal difficulties without reporting them to the Chancery. He also was involved in the attempts to negotiate a settlement with the Wehmeyer victims despite his connection to both Wehmeyer and the victims' mother, who was a classmate of Kueppers's wife. ...

4). More Disclosures

The settlement reached by the Archdiocese in the Doe 1 case did not only end the lawsuit, it established a new procedure for disclosure of information on clergy. That means that in the coming months we will see more disclosures of information that the Archdiocese had previously sued to have sealed. My affidavit is an obvious example, and one that is probably troubling many people right now. For, of the names that remain redacted, many are still in ministry.

This is all the more surprising given that in the past few months several priests have been contacted about 'red flags' that were discovered during the so-called file review by Kinsale. Interestingly, none of the priests that I know of having been contacted appear in my affidavit, and at least one situation involved an allegation 'involving a minor' that was clearly bogus but was used by the Archdiocese as an act of retaliation towards the 'accused' priest.

It would be fair to describe the present state of the Archdiocese as a 'police state'. Almost all of the Chancery staff tasked with working with clergy are from law enforcement, which is not a healthy or sustainable way for the Church to operate. It is also unnecessary. The disciplinary problems facing the Archdiocese were not hidden or misunderstood. We were very much aware of them. Our ability to act appropriately was not hindered by a lack of knowledge or experience, it was hindered by a reluctance on the part of the leadership to apply the very clear standards that had been set. Appointing law enforcement agents to manage clergy personnel was an attempt by those leaders to retain power by assuring the public that they had effectively surrendered decision-making to others more worthy of trust. The incoming Archbishop, whoever he may be, will likely not be willing to continue with this state of affairs, nor should he. My only question is whether it will fall on him, or a temporary administrator, to roll back many of these policies and appointments.

Bishop accused in bicylist death...

Washington Post

Bishop accused in bicylist death raises question: Who’s qualified to be clergy?

By Michelle Boorstein December 31

The awful death Saturday in Baltimore of a biker who was hit by an Episcopal bishop has set off questions around the country: How long after she hit the man did she return to the scene? Could dividers bordering the bike lane have helped?

But mostly: How could a member of the clergy do that kind of thing?

Baltimore police have released almost no information about what they believe happened Saturday when Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook hit the bike of Thomas Palermo before leaving the scene and returning some time later. But that hasn’t stopped the incident from immediately setting off passionate debate about our expectations of religious leaders and exactly what kind of flaws should disqualify someone from the clergy. The case shows that even with Americans’ cynicism about institutional religion, many pine to hold faith leaders to a higher standard.

Well-trafficked public and private listservs and blogs about church life have been filled with people quoting scripture for both the notion that clergy be “above reproach” as well as the need for forgiveness, redemption and grace.

“Clergy are human, and that’s the harsh reality of this moment. Despite our wanting to be whole and healthy and hopeful people, we’re all too human in these moments,” said the Rev. Cameron Trimble, a United Church of Christ pastor who heads a consulting firm to help churches.

Lawyer representing three in abuse claim against John Furlong withdraws from civil cases

Vancouver Sun

By Tracy Sherlock, Vancouver Sun December 30, 2014

The lawyer representing three people accusing Vancouver Olympics boss John Furlong of abuse while he was a teacher in the late 1960s has withdrawn from all three B.C. Supreme Court civil cases.

The news comes after one woman withdrew her complaint and court documents show that one of Furlong’s accusers may have been attending a different school during the years he accuses Furlong of abuse.

Three people — Beverly Mary Abraham (who recently withdrew her lawsuit), Grace Jessie West and an unidentified man — initially filed civil lawsuits in B.C. Supreme Court accusing former Vancouver Olympics CEO Furlong of physical and sexual abuse. Vancouver lawyer Jason Gratl was the lawyer for each.

The allegations surfaced after the Georgia Straight published an article written by Laura Robinson suggesting Furlong physically and verbally abused First Nations students while teaching at Immaculata Catholic elementary school in Burns Lake in 1969-1970.

Documents filed in B.C. Supreme Court show the unidentified man claimed he attended a different school, Lejac residential school in Fraser Lake, between “about 1966” and “about 1975,” moving to Metlakatla, or Prince George College, in “about 1978.”

Maryland Episcopal bishop in fatal crash ...

Washington Post

Maryland Episcopal bishop in fatal crash had DUI history, and diocese knew

[police report]

By Michelle Boorstein and T. Rees Shapiro December 30

Leaders in the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland who this spring made Heather Elizabeth Cook a bishop — the diocese’s first female bishop — knew the ugly details of her 2010 drunk-driving arrest but determined “that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader,” the diocese said in a statement Tuesday.

Now the diocese finds itself under fire after Cook’s acknowledgment that she was involved in a crash on Saturday that killed bicyclist Thomas Palermo, the father of two small children. Cook left the scene but returned later, Bishop Eugene Taylor Sutton said in a statement Monday.

Baltimore police said they have questioned a woman about the crash, but they have not named Cook and no charges have been filed.

Cook’s attorney, David Irwin, declined to comment in detail but has confirmed she was involved in the crash.

Since May, Cook has been the No. 2 bishop in the diocese, which is headquartered in Baltimore and includes 21,500 households in west, central and parts of Southern Maryland. Episcopalians in Washington’s close-in Maryland suburbs are part of the Washington Diocese.

According to records released Tuesday by the Caroline County sheriff’s office, Cook — who was then assigned as a priest on the Eastern Shore of Maryland — was pulled over at 1:15 a.m. in September 2010 and was too intoxicated to complete sobriety tests. She had vomit on her shirt, the report said, and one of her four tires was shredded down to the rims. Cook told the officer she was driving from Canada and had drunk alcohol and smoked marijuana while driving, according to the police report.

Civil war in the papacy

Times of Malta

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 by Martin Scicluna

Pope Francis may well be remembered as one of the most transformative and inspirational pontiffs of the last 200 years – if he is allowed to, that is.

The month of October 2014 will probably go down as the defining moment of his papacy. To view the issues he had to deal with in the course of those four weeks is to see both the magnitude and the range of his task in trying to rescue the Catholic Church from the corruption and short-sightedness that have undermined it.

October found him – among other things – having to send a special administrator to the scandal-plagued diocese of Albenga-Impera on the Italian Riviera, where priests there were accused of offences ranging from theft to sex abuse and links to prostitution.

Meanwhile, at the Vatican, Pope Francis decided to assemble one of the most important consultative synods of bishops to take place since the epoch-making Vatican Council II of 1962-65.

This followed a global survey of millions of laymen and women, which indicated that the gap between Catholic doctrine and practice had grown too wide for comfort. The survey opened a window to give the Vatican a clearer picture of what really went on in the world.

We'd rather not hear from last year's bad newsmakers


A new year should be a new beginning. But 2014's baggage weighs heavy as we try to push into 2015.

So we've made a list — a special list, a wish list — of the people and organizations we'd love to leave in the past. It's not that the inept, the perverse and the just plain mean don't sometimes amuse us. And we aren't saying we'll never forgive certain corrupt or morally suspect people. It's just that we'd rather they went away and let the healing begin. We know that most of them won't oblige us, but we're determined to start 2015 fresh anyway by saying our own goodbyes to these 2014 bums and bummers.


Bishop Robert Finn

If you work for a Catholic institution in northwest Missouri, you report to the highest-ranking U.S. Catholic official to be convicted in a sex-abuse scandal: Bishop Robert Finn. This is a man who, when presented with evidence that a priest in his diocese had a laptop containing hundreds of pornographic images of underage girls, elected to reassign the priest to a convent rather than report his criminal behavior to authorities. When the truth came out, Finn was found guilty of a misdemeanor for failing to report child abuse and was sentenced to two years' probation.

It's shocking enough that a man who shielded a pedophile from the law could be in charge of any organization. But for Finn to still be leading the Diocese of Kansas City–St. Joseph — an entity already stained by decades of sexual-abuse allegations, for which it has paid out millions of dollars in settlements to victims — is mind-boggling.

And Finn is still doing terrible things. He fired Colleen Simon, a food-pantry coordinator at St. Francis Xavier Church, after a Kansas City Star story about Troost's revitalization mentioned in passing that Simon is a lesbian. (Simon has since filed a lawsuit against Finn and the diocese.)

There are indications that Finn may not last much longer at his post. The Vatican is reportedly conducting an internal investigation of Finn. Cardinal Sean O'Malley, a close aide to Pope Francis, appeared on 60 Minutes in November and declared that the Finn situation was something the Pope needed to "address urgently." Meanwhile, our hands are hovering over our keyboards, waiting to type the word "former" in front of "Bishop Robert Finn" someday.

Swedish youth pastor convicted of raping child

The Local

A pastor in the Church of Sweden diocese of Uppsala has been jailed after being convicted of raping a teenage member of his confirmation class.

The court sentenced the man, who has been employed as a youth pastor in the diocese, to two and a half years in prison for the rape of a child. According to the court ruling, the pastor had raped the 14-year-old confirmand on several occasions during the spring of 2014 .

The bishop of the diocese of Uppsala, Ragnar Persenius has responded to the verdict by saying that it is a serious matter when a pastor is incapable of setting boundaries and acting professionally.

"Regardless of whether the crime is classed as rape or sexual molestation, it is completely unacceptable for a pastor. We have zero tolerance for sexual abuse," said Persenius.

Impact statement from Victim

The StarPhoenix

[Sexual assault by priest haunts victim - The StarPhoenix]

From the victim impact statement of a 46-year-old woman who was 10 years old when Omer Desjardins sexually touched her in 1978:

"You sexually assaulted me many years ago, when I was only a child. This betrayal has affected me from that night on to the present day.

I did tell my grandmother the very next morning that you had done this to me, but she did not share this with my mother, her own daughter.

You were a priest, supposedly a man of God. How could you do this to an innocent child?

For many years, I tried not to think of what you had done to me and how it has affected me from that day forward. I became a mother (in 2003) and was blessed with a beautiful daughter. ... I once again started to think about the sexual assault after the birth of my daughter. She is my world and I want to protect her from all the evil in this world, especially sexual predators like you.

I finally decided last year that it was time to report this crime to the police. Even though it had been 30-plus years, the world and your family needed to know what you did to me as a child.

December 30, 2014

Insurer seeks to limit priest abuse liability


ST. PAUL, Minn. - An insurance company has asked a court to limit or eliminate its responsibility to cover some clergy sex abuse claims against the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis.

Last month, the archdiocese sued about 20 insurers in federal court to try to clarify the amount of money the carriers would pay to settle clergy sex abuse claims.

In a court filing, the insurer CNA contends the company and its predecessors have no responsibility to pay claims related to events that were "not unexpected or unforeseen."

Minnesota Public Radio News reports the insurer said it has no record of some policies that the archdiocese claims exist. The insurer also said some coverage doesn't include sexual abuse.

Man accusing ex-VANOC CEO of sexual abuse was attending a different residential school at the time: court documents

The Province

The Canadian Press

Court documents related to a lawsuit against former Olympic CEO John Furlong suggest one of the plaintiffs attended a school in a different community at the time of alleged sexual abuse.

The plaintiff, a man who has asked that his name not be published, alleged Furlong sexually abused him while he was at Immaculata School in Burns Lake in 1969 and 1970.

But court documents indicate the man filed a claim for compensation under the Indian residential schools settlement that said he attended Lejac Residential School in Fraser Lake from 1966 until 1975.

The case is one of three lawsuits that allege Furlong sexually abused students while teaching in northern B.C. in the late 1960s and early 1970s, though in each case Furlong has denied any wrongdoing.

A lawsuit filed by Beverly Abraham has been dropped, leaving the man’s claim and a lawsuit by a woman named Grace West scheduled for trial in March.

In West’s case, the Catholic diocese that ran Immaculata School in Burns Lake has said in court documents that it has been unable to locate records to indicate she attended the school during Furlong’s tenure there.

Sexual assault by priest haunts victim



A sexual assault by a priest on a 10-year-old girl in the middle of the night has caused the victim to lose her faith in God and her trust in people.

“The sight of any Catholic priest disgusts me and when I see one, I think, ‘I bet that priest has sexually assaulted a child,’ just like you did to me,” the 46-year-old woman told Omer Desjardins as she stood across from him in Saskatoon provincial court.

Desjardins, 82, pleaded guilty to one count of indecent assault, stemming from the incident in 1978 in a small community north of Saskatoon, and lawyers made sentencing arguments Tuesday in Saskatoon provincial court.

Desjardins doesn’t remember the specifics of what happened, but accepted the woman’s allegation — that while they were both guests at her grandparents’ house one night, he came into her room and sexually touched her.

He was battling alcoholism then and was drinking that night, his lawyer George Green said in court. It “doesn’t excuse his behaviour,” Green said, but added that Desjardins stopped drinking in 1981 and completed a course in 1984 that allowed him to become an alcohol addiction counsellor.


Jungle Watch

Tim Rohr

I received a call this morning at 9:00am from the Chancery advising me that there were no appointment slots available to meet with the Apostolic Visitators. Of course, I was pretty sure I wouldn't get one anyway. Let me know though if you get one. (P.S. There's more to this.)

Investigation Continues Into Fatal Baltimore Bike Accident


Mike Hellgren

BALTIMORE (WJZ) –Timeline of a tragedy. What WJZ is uncovering about the crash that killed a cyclist and father of two. And what the church is saying now about the drunk driving past of a high-ranking bishop at the center of the investigation.

Outrage and sadness, over the death of cyclist, Tom Palermo in North Baltimore. Police at the scene of what they call a hit and run and the Episcopal Church is releasing updated information about the bishop behind the wheel.

Investigator Mike Hellgren has the details on where the investigation stand at this moment.

The pain is intense over the loss of Tom Palermo, the father of two, who was hit and killed on his bike Saturday. The outrage is intense as well after Maryland’s Episcopal Church confirmed its number two in command, Bishop Heather Cook, was behind the wheel and left the scene before returning.

“It makes me sick to think that someone in her position can just ride off,” cyclist and mourner Kimberly Rohloff said. “It makes me very angry and sick inside.”

“I think people have to regard each other and that’s what’s missing her,” a cyclist said.

WJZ has reviewed police dispatch calls that show how they initially referred to the incident.

“On Roland Avenue. It’s a hit and run of a bicyclist who is not doing well.”

“Thomas Patrick Palermo P-A-L-E-R-M-O.”

“There was a green Subaru Forester station wagon, just went down the street with its window busted out. There was a female driver. A citizen saw it coming back up Roland Avenue.”

Citing “forgiveness,” diocese elected Cook despite 2010 drunk driving infraction

The Baltimore Brew

[with court record]

Fern Shen and Danielle Sweeney December 30, 2014

Citing the Christian value of “forgiveness,” officials of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said today that Bishop Heather Cook disclosed her 2010 drunk driving and marijuana arrest, but that they decided it should not disqualify her from consideration to serve as bishop.

“One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness. We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption,” said the statement from the director of communications for the Baltimore-based diocese.

Cook’s arrest on the Eastern Shore has been in the spotlight since the 58-year-old “Bishop Suffragan” was identified as the driver of the car that hit bicyclist Thomas Palermo Saturday. Cook initially left the scene of the crash, returning after being chased to an apartment complex by a bicyclist. Palermo was pronounced dead at Sinai Hospital.

Since the crash, Diocesan officials have been peppered with questions about whether they knew of Cook’s arrest record when she was placed into consideration for, essentially, the #2 spot in the diocese. She was elected to serve as bishop in May.

Insurer seeks to limit priest abuse liability

Minnesota Public Radio

Martin Moylan Dec 30, 2014

A major insurer asked a court Tuesday to limit or eliminate its responsibility to cover some clergy sex abuse claims against the Twin Cities archdiocese.

Last month, the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis sued about 20 insurers in federal court to try to clarify the amount of money the carriers would pay to settle clergy sex abuse claims. In a court filing, the insurer CNA is now contending that the company and its predecessors have no responsibility to pay claims related to events that were "not unexpected or unforeseen," or claims that otherwise breach contractual obligations.

The insurer said it has no record of some policies that the archdiocese claims exist. The insurer also said some coverage doesn't include sexual abuse.

CNA is also seeking rulings that would limit its financial responsibility if it is determined that the company is obligated to cover abuse claims.

The archdiocese faces numerous claims from people who say they were abused by priests and says it could file for bankruptcy as a result.

Archdiocese attorney Lauren Lonergan said the insurers' move was expected.

The Likely Public Image Decline of Pope Francis in 2015

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* With some help, it appears, from an ongoing right wing influenced media push, Pope Francis, according to polls, is beginning 2015 with a very positive public image worldwide. Also, he has twice as many Republican fans as Democratic fans in the USA (although many less than likely 2016 US Democratic presidential candidate, Hillary Clinton, with whom the pope will likely clash in 2015).

Please see here:

* [Pew Research]
* [Gallup]

* Meanwhile, the editors at the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) seemingly struggled to name the pope, barely, as Person of the Year after twenty one months. NCR conceded that Francis’ abuse commission has yet to act and that he was tone deaf on women, while NCR also apparently skipped over Francis’ reported failure so far even to appoint independent auditors for the Vatican’s own significant financial operations and assets. Other than on children and women and some financial matters, the pope seems to be doing great for some of NCR’s editors. Hello? Perhaps NCR’s multi-million dollar right wing foundation donor nudged a bit here? Will we ever really know?

* Will Pope Francis’ high positive public polling be maintained in 2015? That is very unlikely, for some of the reasons discussed below. Child abuse scandal investigations, especially in Australia, the UK, the Dominican Republic and the USA (e.g., in Minneapolis) and elsewhere will likely boil over in 2015. The October Final Synod on the Family on its current trajectory will likely leave many women, children, couples, gay folks, divorced Catholics and many others in a “merciless lurch”. Significantly, on his present path, Francis will after his October Synod likely be “flushed out” on changing sexual morality teachings. Thereafter, his folksy public relations spin will probably lose much of its appeal and seem even more contrived, as reality raises its truthful head.

* Pope Francis has had a long ‘honeymoon period” with Catholics. He followed “bad acts” — two failed popes. He could only “go up in the polls”. For almost two years, his folksy rhetoric, winning smile, symbolic gestures and vague promises have offered faint hope for many of the millions of disgusted, even despairing, Catholics whom he inherited upon his election in early 2013.

* Nevertheless, after nearly two years with much spin and sparse results, the “era of good feelings’” and media adulation for this unexpected pope clearly seems to have crested. The widely read and respected Financial Times (FT) recently even labeled the Vatican after almost two years under Francis as “criminally slow” on curtailing child abuse. FT also viewed the initial Synod on the Family as having been a “victory for conservatives” ! The FT then even added, “Yet untold millions of Catholics have drifted away from the Church not just because of that but because its obsession with personal morality is so at variance with the lives they live. {My emphasis}

Alcohol Influence Report, for Heather Cook, 9/10/10 (Caroline County Sheriff’s Office)

The Baltimore Brew

Brew Editors December 30, 2014

From the Caroline Co. Sheriff’s office Case Report Summary

Alcohol Influence Report

On 09/10/10 I, Dfc. Reibly, was patrolling East on Preston Rd. in the area of Greenfield Ct., Preston, Caroline County, MD while operating moving radar. I observed a vehicle traveling West on Preston Rd. that appeared to be going significantly slower than the posted 50 mph speed limit. As I got closer to the vehicle I noticed the vehicle was riding on the shoulder of the roadway. I activated my Stalker (#5) radar unit and received a digital readout of 29 mph. I also noticed the vehicle was dragging something under the front passenger side of the car.

I conducted a traffic stop on the vehicle. The vehicle was a 2001 green Subaru wagon with Maryland registration 56837BY. As I approached the vehicle I detected a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from within and the smell of burned rubber. I noted that the driver, who was alone, had vomit down the front of her shirt. I requested the driver’s license and registration. The driver was identified as Heather Elizabeth Cook. Cook stated that she was traveling from Canada to Hurlock, MD. Cook’s speech was slurred and her responses were slow. I asked her if she had consumed any alcohol prior to driving. Cook stated that she stopped in Pennsylvania and had a few alcoholic drinks.

I investigated the burned rubber smell and found the front passenger side tire to be completely shredded from the rim. (A later search did not find the tire or any parts of it) It appeared that Cook had been riding on the rim for some distance.

I asked Cook to exit her vehicle and perform a series of standardized field sobriety tests. Cook agreed and exited her vehicle. The following tests were explained and demonstrated to Cook, The results of said tests are as indicated:

Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus: Cook had a hard time following the stimulus (my finger). Cook kept moving her head instead of following my finger with her eyes only, as directed. Eventually, I was able to detect all six clues of impairment in both eyes, to include, lack of smooth pursuit, nystagmus present at maximum deviation, and nystagmus present prior to a 45 degree angle. She displayed equal tracking in both eyes.

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was aware ...


Episcopal Diocese of Maryland was aware of bishop's previous DUI prior to fatal hit-and-run

BALTIMORE - The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said it was fully aware that a bishop involved in a deadly hit-and-run of a bicyclist in Roland Park Saturday afternoon had been previously arrested for driving under the influence.

According to a statement from the Diocese, Heather Elizabeth Cook, Bishop Suffragan of Maryland, fully disclosed the 2010 DUI for which charges were filed resulting in probation before judgment. Following the disclosure, Cook was elected as bishop suffragan on May 2, 2014. She is the first woman bishop in the diocese.

“One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness,” the statement read. “We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption…After extensive discussion and discernment about the incident, and after further investigation, including extensive background check and psychological investigation, it was determined that this one mistake should not bar her for consideration as a leader.”

Baltimore police said Cook, 58, was driving a Subaru Saturday that struck and killed the bicyclist, 41-year-old Thomas Palermo.

Baltimore bishop got evaluations after DUI charge

The Baltimore Sun

By Mark Puente
The Baltimore Sun

Before being elevated to a position as a high-ranking bishop, Heather Elizabeth Cook was subjected to an extensive background check and psychological investigation regarding a 2010 drunken driving incident, the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said Tuesday.

"One of the core values of the Christian faith is forgiveness. We cannot preach forgiveness without practicing forgiveness and offering people opportunity for redemption," the diocese said in a statement about the search process for an elected bishop.

Cook — who in September became Maryland's bishop suffragan, the No. 2 leader of the diocese — was driving a car involved in Saturday's fatal crash on Roland Avenue. Bicyclist Thomas Palermo, 41, a married, father of two, died from his injuries.

No charges have been filed in connection with the afternoon crash in North Baltimore, and police said an investigation was in its early stages.

Former Teacher At Private Girls School Pleads Not Guilty To Molesting Teen

CBS Los Angeles

December 29, 2014

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former teacher at a private Westside girls school pleaded not guilty Monday to sexually molesting a 16-year-old student.

Elizabeth Ann Brewer, 39, of Culver City, is charged with three counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation between January 2004 and December 2006.

Brewer was a teacher at Notre Dame Academy, a Catholic college-prep school for girls in West Los Angeles, during the time in question.

Brewer, who faces up to 21 years in prison if convicted, is scheduled to return to court Jan. 20.

Ex-Teacher at Westside Girls’ School Pleads Not Guilty in Alleged Sexual Relationship With Student


A former teacher at a Catholic girls’ high school pleaded not guilty Monday to multiple criminal charges in connection with an alleged nearly three-year sexual relationship with an underage student.

Elizabeth Ann Brewer, 39, was a teacher at Notre Dame Academy, a Westside all-girls private school, when she had the alleged relationship between January 2004 and December 2006, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

Brewer was arrested in October by police in Culver City, where she lives. Police said a “lengthy investigation” led to her arrest after an alleged victim came forward.

She was accused of having a relationship with a 16-year-old student at the Rancho Park school, according to the DA’s office.

Brewer pleaded not guilty to three counts of sexual penetration by foreign object two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation, the DA’s office stated.



By ABC7.com staff
Monday, December 29, 2014

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- A former teacher at Notre Dame Academy has been charged with having a sexual relationship with a 16-year-old student. The alleged abuse occurred between January 2004 and December 2006.

Elizabeth Brewer, 39, faces three counts of sexual penetration by a foreign object, two counts of oral copulation and one count of forcible oral copulation.

Brewer pleaded not guilty Monday. She is due back in court on Jan. 20.

Notre Dame Academy is a Catholic college preparatory school for girls in West Los Angeles.

2014 in review: Top Twin Cities stories

Minnesota Public Radio

Laura McCallum December 30, 2014 ...

7. After more than a year’s worth of reporting on the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, MPR News’ special report, Betrayed by Silence, goes inside the cover-up led by three archbishops to see how and why the church protected priests who sexually abused children. Hundreds of hours of interviews and thousands of documents make clear that that church leaders knew they had abusers in the priesthood and they did everything in their power to keep the situation quiet. Meanwhile, they reassured the faithful and the media that clergy sexual abuse was a thing of the past.

Indiana diocese to appeal $1.9 million verdict in teacher's firing

Catholic Sentinel

Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON — The Diocese of Fort-Wayne-South Bend, Indiana, plans to appeal a $1.9 million judgment against it in a lawsuit over the firing of an elementary school teacher who it claimed violated the morals clause of her contract.

A U.S. District Court jury determined Dec. 19 that the diocese discriminated against Emily Herx, a former language arts teacher at St. Vincent de Paul School in Fort Wayne, when her contract was not renewed in June 2011 after she informed a school official that she had undergone in vitro fertilization a second time.

Diocesan spokesman Sean McBride told Catholic News Service that work on an appeal was underway and would be filed in the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

In a statement, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades said the jury's decision was disappointing.

Former priest admitting to abuse still not charged

Sawyer County Record

Posted: Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Frank Zufall, staff reporter

A former Catholic priest alleged to have committed molestation against children in the village of Winter in 1983, and who admits in a Dec. 1 report that he abused, has never been charged even though Wisconsin’s statute of limitations allows for charges to be filed.

Thomas Ericksen, 67, now living in the Twin Cities, served as a Catholic priest in the Diocese of Superior at St. Peter’s Catholic Church in the Village of Winter.

Two alleged victims, Paul Eck and his nephew, James, filed a civil lawsuit against the diocese and Ericksen for alleged assault and settled for $3 million in 1989, the year after Ericksen left the priesthood.

However, criminal charges have never been filed against Ericksen.

In 2010, investigating Ericksen on the Internet, Paul Eck discovered the former priest had been volunteering for three years in Kansas City with Special Olympics. Ericksen was subsequently suspended from Special Olympics.

Belgian bishop advocates church recognition of gay relationships

National Catholic Reporter

John A. Dick | Dec. 30, 2014

LEUVEN, BELGIUM — Bishop Johan Bonny of Antwerp, Belgium, has called for ecclesiastical recognition of gay relationships, according to an interview published in De Morgen, a Belgian newspaper, on Dec. 27.

The official teaching that the Catholic church can recognize only male-female committed relationships has to change, Bonny said.

"There should be recognition of a diversity of forms," he said. "We have to look inside the church for a formal recognition of the kind of interpersonal relationship that is also present in many gay couples. Just as there are a variety of legal frameworks for partners in civil society, one must arrive at a diversity of forms in the church. … The intrinsic values are more important to me than the institutional question. The Christian ethic is based on lasting relationships where exclusivity, loyalty, and care are central to each other."

Jongsocialisten dienen klacht in tegen KVHV na uitspraken over Bonny

De Morgen

Het Katholiek Vlaams Hoogstudentenverbond (KVHV) Antwerpen reageert in een persbericht fel op de Antwerpse bisschop Johan Bonny, die de voorbije weken verschillende keren opriep om homoseksuelen met meer respect te behandelen. De Antwerpse Jongsocialisten reageren verontwaardigd en dienen klacht in.

"Monseigneur, wat u voorstelt is niet katholiek", klinkt het fel in het persbericht van het KVHV. De vereniging verwijst daarmee naar Bonny's oproep in deze krant, toen de Antwerpse bisschop opriep om "de inhoudelijke kwaliteit van holebikoppels" ook binnen de kerk te erkennen.

When a Good Bishop Tries to Do the Right Thing

Waiting for Godot to Leave

Kevin O'Brieni

This has been a tremendous series of articles, and Commonweal today posts the next-to-last installment.

We pray and pray for bishops who give a damn, who care enough about children to protect them and

who care enough about the Faith to take a stand. But things are so rotten in Denmark that even when a heroic bishop like Martino comes along, Rome, politics, the money trail and other nasty things will keep the Church seriously corrupt and deeply in need of reform. And the Latin Mass is no guarantee of either sanctity or common sense.

Again, that even a good bishop who tried his best to do the right thing was unable to protect either children from sexual assault or adults from financial fraud is tremendously troubling.

The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VII)


Grant Gallicho December 30, 2014

This is the seventh in a series of posts on the Urrutigoity case. Read the first part here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, the fifth here, and the sixth here.

In November 2003, Joseph Martino attended his first meeting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops after succeeding James Timlin as bishop of Scranton, Pennsylvania. During the weeks following his October 1 installation Mass, Martino had been briefed on the scandal Timlin brought to the diocese in 1997 when he allowed the Society of St. John, a band of traditionalist clerics looking for a home, to set up shop in Scranton. As Martino walked down the aisle of the USCCB convention hall, flanked by nearly all the nation’s bishops, he turned to his auxiliary bishop, John Dougherty, and said, “I think we need to suppress that group.”

But Dougherty wasn’t convinced that was the wisest course of action. Canonically suppressing the Society of St. John, Dougherty worried, might put Martino “in the position of attempting to undo an administrative act of his predecessor,” he wrote to a canon lawyer in early 2003. The “administrative act” Dougherty had in mind was Bishop Timlin’s decision to approve the Society of St. John as a “public association of the faithful,” which afforded the group certain rights under canon law—including the right to appeal to the Vatican.

Timlin’s “Decree of the Erection of the Society of St. John” was issued just a year after he met the group, then led by Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity—a native of Argentina. In the spring of 1997, Urrutigoity and his followers were ousted from the Society of St. Pius X—a schismatic organization that rejects the reforms of Vatican II—after it was discovered that they planned to establish a more spiritually rigorous group within the SSPX. Urrutigoity convinced Bishop Timlin that SSJ priests and deacons wanted to return to the Catholic Church in order to promote the old Latin Mass. Timlin was known as a friend to those who preferred the pre-Vatican II liturgy. Urrutigoity claimed that his fondest hope was to establish a seminary, a liberal-arts college, and a Catholic village. None of that would come to pass, as the Society’s efforts became mired in allegations of financial and sexual misfeasance.

Diaspora Deutschland

Frankfurter Allgemeine

29.12.2014, von MARKUS GÜNTHER

In der Nacht vom 13. auf den 14. Dezember, fast auf den Tag genau vor 50 Jahren, irrte ein Student namens Franz durch die Straßen Münsters. Er konnte nicht schlafen. Zu aufgewühlt war er von der Predigt, die er am frühen Abend im Dom gehört hatte von einem jungen Priester und Professor, nur ein paar Jahre älter als er selbst, der Advent und Weihnachten auf ganz neue, ja revolutionäre Art deutete: Die alte Lehre, nach der die menschliche Geschichte sich in die Zeit des Dunkels und die des Heils teilt, die Zeit vor und nach Christi Geburt nämlich, könne doch heute niemand mehr ernst nehmen, sagte der junge Theologe. Wer wolle nach den Weltkriegen, nach Auschwitz und nach Hiroshima noch von der Zeit des Heils sprechen, die vor 2000 Jahren in Bethlehem begonnen habe? Nein, die Grenze zwischen dem Dunkel und dem Licht, zwischen Gefangenschaft und Erlösung, gehe nicht mitten durch die Geschichte, sondern mitten durch unsere Seele. Der Advent finde nicht im Kalender statt, sondern in unseren Herzen – oder er breche genau dort ergebnislos ab. Das ist starker Tobak, und man kann sich gut vorstellen, dass der Student nach dieser Predigt keinen Schlaf fand, sondern allein sein wollte, um das alles für sich zu durchdenken.

Länder streiten über Hilfsfonds

Die Welt

Von Miriam Hollstein

Es war ein ungewöhnlicher Brief, der Bundesarbeitsministerin Andrea Nahles (SPD) kürzlich erreichte: Unterzeichnet hatten ihn die Behindertenbeauftragten aller vier Fraktionen im Bundestag – ein seltener Akt der Einmütigkeit. "Sehr enttäuscht" habe man zur Kenntnis gekommen, dass die Arbeits- und Sozialminister der Länder auf ihrer Sitzung Ende November sich mehrheitlich gegen eine Beteiligung an einem Hilfsfonds für missbrauchte behinderte Heimkinder ausgesprochen hätten. "Aus unserer Sicht geht es um eine gemeinschaftliche Verantwortung der Länder, des Bundes und der Kirchen", steht in dem Schreiben. "Eine Verweigerung der Länder ist deshalb aus unserer Sicht nicht akzeptabel."

I dubbi sulla svolta di Papa Francesco

Corriere della Sera

Bergoglio è imprevedibile per il cattolico medio. Suscita un interesse vasto, ma quanto sincero?

di Vittorio Messori

Credo sia onesto ammetterlo subito: abusando, forse, dello spazio concessomi, ciò che qui propongo, più che un articolo, è una riflessione personale. Anzi, una sorta di confessione che avrei volentieri rimandata, se non mi fosse stata richiesta. Ma sì, rimandata perché la mia (e non solo mia) valutazione di questo papato oscilla di continuo tra adesione e perplessità, è un giudizio mutevole a seconda dei momenti, delle occasioni, dei temi. Un Papa non imprevisto: per quanto vale, ero tra quelli che si attendevano un sudamericano e un uomo di pastorale, di esperienza quotidiana di governo, quasi a bilanciare un ammirevole professore, un teologo sin troppo raffinato per certi palati, quale l’amato Joseph Ratzinger. Un Papa non imprevisto, dunque, ma che subito, sin da quel primissimo «buonasera», si è rivelato imprevedibile, tanto da far ricredere via via anche qualche cardinale che era stato tra i suoi elettori.

Italian writer stirs a hornet’s nest with doubts about Pope Francis


By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor December 30, 2014

ROME — For those in and around the Vatican, the most talked-about piece of rhetoric during the holiday season has been Pope Francis’s Dec. 22 blast at the Roman Curia. A close second, however, has been Vittorio Messori’s own Dec. 24 fusillade at the pope, published in the Italian paper of record, Corriere della Sera.

Under the headline, “Doubts about the turning point of Pope Francis,” Messori wrote that “my evaluation of this papacy oscillates continually between adhesion and perplexity,” and also asserted that Francis’ unpredictability has caused even “some of the cardinals who were among his electors to have second thoughts.”

Messori did not name any repentant cardinals, but his claim has been taken seriously because he is Italy’s most famous living Catholic writer, the man whose 1984 interview book with then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, The Ratzinger Report, made the future pope a star.

In other words, he’s the kind of person in a position to know what at least some segment of the College of Cardinals is thinking.

Maryland's first female Episcopal bishop allegedly is driver behind fatal hit-and-run

New York Daily News

BY ALEJANDRO ALBA NEW YORK DAILY NEWS Published: Monday, December 29, 2014

The Episcopal Diocese of Maryland said a newly ordained bishop, Heather Elizabeth Cook, was the driver allegedly responsible for a hit-and-run that killed a bicyclist Sunday afternoon in Baltimore.

The Right Reverend Eugene Taylor Sutton identified Cook, who was ordained in September, in an email, the Baltimore Brew reports.

"I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon that resulted in the death of bicyclist Thomas Palermo, 41," Sutton wrote.

Palermo was still alive when police arrived at the scene. He was taken to Sinai Hospital where he died of his injuries, according to cops.

Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know


1. Bishop Cook Initially Left the Scene

In an email to parishioners Sunday, Bishop Eugene Sutton said that Bishop Suffragan Heather Cook left the scene of the crash but returned about 20 minutes later “to take responsibility for her actions.”

Sutton wrote:

“Together with the Diocese of Maryland, I express my deep sorrow over the death of the cyclist and offer my condolences to the victim’s family. Please pray for Mr. Palermo, his family and Bishop Cook during this most difficult time.”

2. The Deceased Was a Well-Known Cyclist

Thomas Palermo, 41, was known for building custom bike frames, and was well acquainted with the area of Baltimore in which he was killed.

Baltimore bicyclist Chris Merriam told the AP:

“He was a craftsman. A lot of people owned frames built by him with loving care. He was a very talented guy, and a lot of people knew him.”

Maryland Episcopal bishop investigated ...

Washington Post

Maryland Episcopal bishop investigated in car accident that killed cyclist

By Michelle Boorstein December 29

The No. 2 Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Maryland has been placed on administrative leave after she was involved in a car crash Saturday that killed a bicyclist.

Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook, who is the bishop suffragan, or second bishop for the diocese of Maryland, which is headquartered in Baltimore, left the scene but returned later “to take responsibility for her actions,” her bishop said in a statement.

Baltimore police said Monday that they are investigating a fatal car crash that killed Thomas Palermo, 41, a father of two and a computer specialist who ran a bike shop out of his garage. Palermo, whose family lives in Baltimore County, was on a recreational ride, said his brother-in-law, Jeff Hulting.

Police did not identify the driver, saying in a statement that they were interviewing a 58-year-old woman who “left the scene but returned back to the scene during the investigation.” No charges have been filed.

Witness says car left scene of bike crash for 45, not 20, minutes

Baltimore Brew

Fern Shen and Danielle Sweeney December 29, 2014

The station wagon with the smashed windshield that drove away from Saturday’s fatal Roland Avenue bike crash was gone for close to 45 minutes – not the reported 20 – before returning to the scene, according to a reliable witness interviewed by The Brew.

The woman, a Roland Park resident who was at the crash scene minutes after it happened, said she pulled over – horrified by the sight of the inert bicyclist – and remained there.

“When I arrived, I saw a group of teenage boys and also a Fed-Ex truck. The boys and Fed-Ex truck may have been the first to see the accident. People were already calling the police, when I arrived,” said the woman, who remained in her car watching.

The car that had struck cyclist Thomas Palermo was not there while she watched the first responders work, but after a time – a long time, she said – it pulled up.

As first reported in The Brew, Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton told Episcopal clergy yesterday that the driver of the car was newly ordained Bishop Heather Elizabeth Cook and that she “returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.”

Child abuse...

Belfast Telegraph

Child abuse: Bathed in disinfectant, whipped with kettle flexes, beaten and forced to eat vomit... victims' harrowing testimonies


Harrowing accounts of how children were beaten and abused in care homes in Northern Ireland have dominated the news during 2014.

The Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry is investigating allegations between 1922 and 1995.

It was set up by the Executive to investigate institutions run by the State and churches or owned by the private sector or voluntary bodies. Victims have given a series of powerful testimonies of the abuse they suffered while in care.

The inquiry heard how children at homes run by nuns were made to eat their own vomit.

Some were also forced to bathe in disinfectant and beaten for wetting the bed.

Children at Sisters of Nazareth properties in Derry were known by their numbers rather than their names.

Child abuse: Media coverage of high-profile cases...

Belfast Telegraph

Child abuse: Media coverage of high-profile cases has given more children courage to seek help


Over the last few years the news agenda has been flooded with reports of large-scale sexual abuse including the horrendous actions of Jimmy Savile and accounts from victims giving evidence to the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry here.

While the figure of 718 ongoing sex abuse investigations by the PSNI is a stark statistic which highlights, to a degree, the scale of this heinous crime, the figures need to be seen in context.

There is reason to believe that media coverage of high-profile cases may be encouraging victims to come forward in the confidence that they will be believed.

Changes to the child protection reporting systems in Northern Ireland have also made it easier for victims to disclose abuse.

We also know that sexual offences involving children and young people reported to the PSNI over the last decade have shown an increase from 875 in 2002/03 to 1,182 in 2012/13.

Police investigating 718 cases of child abuse in Northern Ireland

Befast Telegraph


Police are investigating more than 700 claims of child abuse in Northern Ireland, it can be revealed.

Officers are probing 718 "live" cases where the victim was aged under 18.

The figure is thought to include a number of historic allegations relating to children's care homes.

It comes as a leading charity revealed it has seen the number of calls to a specialist helpline jump by almost a quarter in the last year.

The issue of child abuse has been in the headlines throughout 2014. A State inquiry into historical abuse in Northern Ireland, chaired by retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, opened in January.

The inquiry, which has so far been contacted by 524 individuals, has already heard harrowing testimonies from victims.

Editorial: Person of the year for 2014

Naitonal Catholic Reporter


A year ago, Pope Francis' photo adorned the covers of Rolling Stone, The New Yorker, TIME magazine and The Advocate. The latter two named the pope their person of the year. Francis' personal humility and simplicity, his common-sense rhetoric seasoned with homespun charm had captured the imagination of Catholics, non-Catholics and even nonbelievers. Acutely aware of the power of simple language and of images, Francis set about molding a pontificate for the age of Facebook and Twitter. Though he has little computer knowledge himself, Francis harnessed these tools for a new kind of evangelization.

Many among our readers, editors, staff and contributors embraced the message he advocated. They heralded not just a change in tone and style, but a change in substance and direction. Just as many among us, however, were not convinced. The refrain was, "Yes, but what has he done? To what real change can we point?" And so NCR resisted naming Francis our person of the year for 2013.

A year later, the resistance is weakening. We can name many points of disagreement with Francis: He is consistently tone-deaf in the way he speaks about women. We do not believe he clearly understands the powerful contribution women are already making to church life, and we believe he is mistaken not to appoint more women to leadership positions in church administration. His remarks to the November symposium at the Vatican, "An International Interreligious Colloquium on the Complementarity of Man and Woman," suggest he and the church hierarchy need an updated theology and science on human sexuality. Despite these objections, we also find a growing list of accomplishments.

One clear message from the conclave that elected Francis was that the new pope must reform the Roman Curia — not only to bring it up to date, but to restore its mission of service to the church at large. We have said that the reform of that institution needs changes in at least three key areas: a change in culture; personnel to support the reform; and new structures, policies and procedures to make it work. ...

We have taken Francis to task for not understanding the seriousness of the sex abuse crisis in the church. In the last year, Francis has made tremendous strides in this area by — most important — meeting with victims of clergy sexual assault and by appointing a high-level commission of professionals, half of whom are lay and women, to advise him directly. The commission has yet to act, but its formation indicates the pope is grappling with the issue.

Pope Francis’ Image Positive in Much of World

Pew Research

Pope Francis, leader of the world’s nearly 1.1 billion Catholics, enjoys broad support across much of the world, according to a new survey report by the Pew Research Center. A median of 60% across 43 nations have a favorable view of the pontiff. Only 11% see the pope unfavorably, and 28% give no rating.

Francis’ strongest support comes from Europe, where a median of 84% offer a favorable rating. Latin America – the pope’s home region – also gives him high marks, with 72% saying they have a positive opinion.1 However, Francis is less well-known in other parts of the world. In Africa, 44% say they like the pope, but 40% offer no rating. Asians are similarly unfamiliar with Francis, with 41% supporting him and 45% expressing no opinion. The Middle East is the most negative toward Francis, with a quarter viewing him unfavorably. However, an equal number (25%) give a positive rating and a plurality (41%) do not rate him.

Americans are particularly fond of Pope Francis, with more than three-quarters (78%) giving him positive marks.

These are among the key findings from two surveys by the Pew Research Center, one conducted from October 30, 2013 to March 4, 2014, among 14,564 respondents in nine Latin American countries, and another from March 17 to June 5, 2014, among 36,430 respondents in 34 countries.

Pope Francis continues to take 'the world by storm'

Catholic News Service

By Carol Zimmermann
Catholic News Service

WASHINGTON (CNS) -- During the second year of his pontificate, Pope Francis was still feeling the love, and not just from Catholics or those from his homeland of Argentina.

A Pew Research Center study released Dec. 11 showed that the pope has broad support across much of the world. Sixty percent of the 43 nations polled had a positive view of the pontiff.

And Americans, in particular, have shown their fondness for Pope Francis, often extolling his simple style. According to the Pew study, 78 percent of Americans view the pope favorably. ...

One catch, so far with the pope's popularity, is that it has not, as of yet in the U.S., drawn more people, or those who have left the church, back to Mass or the sacraments in measurable numbers, according to a Pew Research Center poll earlier this year.

Some observers have said the pope's impact shouldn't be measured in returning Catholics, but in the restored image of the Catholic Church and the number of Catholics who feel proud of their faith again thanks to Pope Francis.

Priest who 'abused' boys absconding

Kaumudi Online

KOCHI: A church priest who took boys for pleasure trips and dining in high-end hotels, as a means to lure them into sexual acts with him, has been absconding since complaints were raised against him recently.

Since December 22, the main priest of a significant church at Kaloore has not turned up for conducting mass in the church. Currently, the assistant priest is carrying out his duties. “The tainted priest mostly hobnobbed with senior students. He used to conduct trips for them in posh cars. He also took them to have lunch and dinner in big hotels. This was how he attracted the boys towards him,” according to reports.

The boys who went to Saturday’s ‘Thirubalasakhyam’ and Sunday classes often fell prey to the priest’s homosexuality. In the third week of December, a boy disclosed to his parents the priest’s misdemeanour. Following this, three parents and a few party men jointly manhandled the priest.

Protest gegen Groer-Denkmal: Pfarrer bezieht Stellung


In der oberösterreichischen Gemeinde Hohenzell bei Ried im Innkreis formiert sich Protest gegen ein Denkmal für den verstorbenen ehemaligen Wiener Erzbischof Hans Hermann Groer.

Von Franziska Dzugan

Das Denkmal erinnert seit Jahren daran, dass Hans Hermann Groer in der Hohenzeller Kirche 1989 für ungeborene Kinder gebetet hat. 1995 musste Groer wegen Missbrauchs von Zöglingen zurücktreten. In profil bezieht Pfarrer Josef Bauer erstmals Stellung. Er will die Gedenktafel nicht entfernen lassen: „Es hat keine gerichtliche Verurteilung Groers stattgefunden. Ich kannte ihn persönlich und kann mir nicht vorstellen, dass an den Vorwürfen etwas dran ist.“ Auch die Diözese Linz habe kein Interesse, das Denkmal zu demontieren, sagt Sepp Rothwangl (siehe Bild), Obmann der Plattform "Betroffene kirchlicher Gewalt". Generalvikar Severin Lederhilger habe einem Missbrauchsopfer, das sich beschwerte, gesagt, er könne in dieser Angelegenheit nichts machen.

Pope’s 15 Ailments or My Sixth Grade Assembly


Posted on December 30, 2014 by skipshea

Recently the news has been going crazy with glee over the Pope dressing down the Vatican Curia. At least that’s what the headlines called it. It is actually the Roman Curia which is the governing body of the Holy See, which is the sovereign state in which the Vatican resides. But why let facts get in the way.

So this dressing down has more to do with the business end of the Vatican and not all of that other stuff they do. Which is why Francis was elected in the first place. The Vatican Bank was in scandal and crisis, laundering money for pre-repentant sinners and stuff like that. Monsignor Nunzio Scarano was arrested and Peter Sutherland from Goldman Sachs flew to the Vatican with words of wisdom.

As an aside, no one flew to the Holy See with any kind of warning while they were called in front of two UN Committees to investigate global crimes against humanity or the clergy sexual abuse screwing around with kids scandal. But screw around with the money of the one percent and, Holy See look out!

And man did Pope Francis listen. Not to the UN but to the bankers. After all the bank manages between 7 and 8 billion dollars in assets and investments and that needs protecting. So he took the job seriously.

Pope Francis appointed Jean-Baptiste de Franssu of Invesco Ltd. as bank president. And Cardinal Pell as Secretariat of the Economy. They did such a good job that Pell announced that they found millions tucked away. I can’t even tuck away 20 bucks, how they heck do you tuck away millions?

As an aside on Pell, when he was a Cardinal in Australia he lived with one of the worst pedophiles Gerald Ridsdale for a year and accompanied him to court. He later admitted he was unaware this would be insulting to victims. Let alone discourage more from coming forward because they would see the powerful institution they would be up against. Okay, I made up the last sentence.

Breaking the habit

The Economist

Dec 20th 2014 BY E.W. | WASHINGTON, DC

WOMEN entering religious life in the Catholic church take, among other vows, the vow of obedience. This vow demands deference to both God and church doctrine; in other words, to the men who set and uphold Catholic teaching. But the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), an organisation representing 80% of American nuns, hasn’t always been so keen on meek deference. Members in the past have publicly dissented with the Vatican on issues including gay rights, abortion and the ordination of women. More recently, the group has been criticised for concentrating too much on social justice, rather than championing the church’s teachings on abortion and sexuality.

In 2008, under Pope Benedict XVI, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith initiated an investigation of American nuns, citing concerns about “a certain feminist spirit.” As Reverend Paul Sullins at the Catholic University of America explained, these women “have suggested that the church’s teachings are wrong or dated or need to be changed, and it wants to enter into some sort of conversation… It’s a huge arrogance.” The investigation continued under Pope Francis and concluded recently, with a report from the Vatican just in time for Christmas.

Though many sisters resented the investigation when it began six years ago, it seems to have ended on a positive note. The report expresses gratitude for the contributions of American nuns, and otherwise falls short of making concrete suggestions or changes. It even cites Pope Francis’s call to create “still broader opportunities for a more incisive female presence in the church.”

The change from Benedict’s castigating tone to Francis’s supportive one seems wise: the Catholic church isn’t in a position to further alienate women religious, whose numbers have been dwindling for years. According to Pew Research, the number of American nuns has dropped 72% since 1965—from 180,000 to 50,000. By contrast, the number of American priests has fallen only 35% over the same period. The number of nuns is also declining much faster in America than elsewhere in the world: in 1970, American nuns represented 16% of the world’s religious sisters; today, they’re only 7%.

The year of Pope Francis


December 30, 2014

by Elizabeth Stoker Bruenig @ebruenig

In January 2014, Italian sculptor and pop artist Mauro Pallotta explained the inspiration behind a series of paintings depicting Pope Francis as a Marvel-esque superhero, cape and all. “I thought of representing this pope, Francis, as a superhero,” he said, “simply because, according to me, he is one of the few people who, having a real power as a pope, he uses it for the good.”

This year saw further realization of Pallotta’s depiction: Francis established himself as a crusader against economic exclusion, perpetrators of violence and clergy who flaunt wealth and abuse power. Still, Francis’ most impressive gambit is his farthest ranging: a genuine effort to challenge rigidity and cynicism both inside and outside the church. ...

September proved a monumental month for progress in accountability for the church’s history of child sex abuse. Francis placed former Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski under house arrest in Vatican City in late September, pending an investigation of Wesolowski’s alleged abuse of children in the Dominican Republic. Shortly thereafter, Francis removed Paraguayan Bishop Rogelio Ricardo Livieres Plano pursuant to accusations that the bishop protected an Argentine priest accused of committing sex crimes in the United States.

Meanwhile, Francis has continued to add victims of church sex abuse to his advisory council on the abuse crisis, indicating an ongoing commitment to rooting out the rot in the church while seeking forgiveness from its victims. External groups, such as the U.N.’s Committee on the Rights of the Child, have nonetheless found fault with the church’s response. An early February report released by the committee criticized the secrecy with which sex abuse cases have been handled so far and called for the Vatican to establish clear, consistent mechanisms to respond to cases of abuse in conjunction with legal authorities.

Some Catholics have expressed displeasure with Francis’ approach. October featured the first half of the Synod on the Family, a meeting of church officials meant to hash out questions of divorce, remarriage, the role of gay and lesbian Catholics in the church and other “pastoral challenges” in the context of the family. Francis’ affinity for flexibility and honest contemplation on matters affecting modern families led to all manner of paroxysms in the church, a tendency augmented by the reassignment of a popular conservative cardinal near the end of synod proceedings. Nonetheless, Francis’ approval ratings remain stellar, with 67 percent of U.S. Catholics rating him favorably and only 13 percent unfavorably. In fact, his popularity among Catholics and non-Catholics alike has continued to grow over preceding quarterly polls.

Group Says Vatican Visit to Guam is Rare

Pacific News Center

[with video]

Written by Janela Carrera

Guam - As the Archdiocese of Agana prepares for an important visit from three Vatican officials next week, a group of concerned Catholics is also planning to meet with the delegation. The group says they will hand over what’s called a white paper.

"This is a very rare occasion that would have this many Vatican officials come here," says Concerned Catholics of Guam Vice President David Sablan.

It’s been dubbed a pastoral visit by the Archdiocese of Agana, but some believe the visit from three important Vatican officials next week has more to do with the troubles plaguing the Church than a mere trip just to say hello.

"For all the times that I could remember, usually they would come passing through, it’s usually just the papal nuncio ... so he is someone we could expect to visit with us at least once a year but he’s been here twice in the past six months so there’s something telling about that," notes Sablan.

"In addition to it being a rare occasion it’s also interesting to note the duration of the visit. It’s a seven day visit and normally they pretty much come in, spend a day or two, then they move to the next area," CCOG President Greg Perez points out.

Former Catholic brother refused bail

7 News


A former Catholic brother facing hundreds of child sexual abuse charges has been refused bail at a Sydney court.

Bernard McGrath, 66, was extradited from New Zealand to Australia earlier this month.

He did not apply for bail when he appeared at Parramatta Local Court via video link on Monday afternoon, and bail was formally refused.

He is facing a total 252 charges, including 102 counts of indecent assaults on males.

The allegations date back to the 1970s and 1980s.

Furlong sexual abuse suit questioned as documents reveal conflicting claim

The Globe and Mail


VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail
Published Tuesday, Dec. 30 2014

Documents filed in the Supreme Court of British Columbia have raised questions about a man’s claim he was sexually abused by former Vancouver Olympics CEO John Furlong.

Last year, Mr. Furlong was accused of abuse by the man, who has asked that his identity be withheld by the media, and by two women, Beverly Abraham and Grace West, who did not seek anonymity.

The three accusers filed suits against Mr. Furlong, the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corp. of Prince Rupert and Catholic Independent Schools Diocese of Prince George, saying they were abused when Mr. Furlong was their teacher at Immaculata Elementary School in Burns Lake in 1969-70.

But in a 2005 document filed with the Indian residential schools dispute resolution process, the man claims he was at a different school in 1969-70, in a different community, where he was sexually abused by a Catholic brother.

“In 1969 when I was nine years old and attending Lejac Residential, there was a brother [who] … would call me to his office,” states the compensation claim, which graphically describes acts of sexual assault. “This abuse happened ten times over three years.”

Lejac, which closed in 1976, was in Fraser Lake, 70 kilometres west of Burns Lake, where Mr. Furlong worked. Mr. Furlong moved from Immaculata to Prince George College, 160 kilometres west of Fraser Lake, in 1971.

No. 3 Story of the Year: Ex-Shoals youth ministers face child sex abuse charges

Times Daily

By Tom Smith Senior Staff Writer

Three former Shoals area youth ministers made headlines this year when they were accused of abusing children who were members of their churches.

The combined stories of their arrests was voted the third story of the year in a TimesDaily newsroom poll.

Charles Kyle Adcock, 31, who now lives in Frisco, Texas, and is a former Woodward Avenue Baptist Church youth minister, is charged with 22 counts of second-degree rape and nine counts of second-degree sodomy.

Adcock was a youth minister at Woodward Avenue Baptist Church from 2010-12. Investigators said Adcock faces sexual abuse charges that date back to his days as a youth minister.

Adcock is accused of having an inappropriate sexual relationship with a girl who was 14 at the time. Adcock was the girl’s youth minister.

Ten Minutes of Real Pope Dope

The Costarican Times

Martin LeFevre

“60 Minutes,” one of America’s last remaining bulwarks of the status quo, devoted a full fawning hour to Pope Francis Sunday, between Christmas and New Years. Can this media-canonized pope save the world’s institutions, beginning with the Catholic Church and extending to the American-made international system?

What’s at issue is the whole crumbling world order, and the desperate need by those in positions of wealth and power (and make no mistake about it, the papacy is a position of wealth and power) to shore up the rotten timbers, even as more and more people are giving up on religions and the old order altogether.

When I was young, the news magazine “60 Minutes” challenged the powers that be, but in recent years it has been more concerned with falling ratings and stale rehash. It also has a developed a decidedly reactionary bent that covers the spectrum from nostalgia to ‘ain’t America wonderful’ segments.

But three puff pieces on the pope is too much. Toadying to the pope’s image, the show quotes a cardinal waxing lyrical about Pope Francis: “An evangelizer must never look like someone who is coming back from a funeral.” America’s leading news magazine is now shilling for this pope’s mission of remaking the Roman Catholic Church into a “missionary church.”

December 29, 2014

A message from Bishop Sutton regarding the tragic situation involving Bishop Heather Cook

Episcopal Diocese of Maryland

Posted on December 29, 2014

I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon, Dec 27, that resulted in the death of a bicyclist, Thomas Palermo, 41. Bishop Cook did not sustain any injuries. Together with the Diocese of Maryland, I express my deep sorrow over the death of the cyclist and offer my condolences to the victim’s family. Please pray for Mr. Palermo, his family and Bishop Cook during this most difficult time. Please do not contact Bishop Cook directly, but feel free to send written notes to the Diocesan Center.

There is an ongoing police investigation into the accident. Several news agencies have reported this as a ‘hit and run.’ Bishop Cook did leave the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes to take responsibility for her actions.

Because the nature of the accident could result in criminal charges, I have placed Bishop Cook on administrative leave, effective immediately. I will meet shortly with the Standing Committee to discuss ways we can move forward. Also, I have decided to delay my sabbatical to Jan. 24 indefinitely to be pastorally present in this difficult time.

The Right Rev. Eugene Taylor Sutton
Bishop of Maryland

Female US bishop 'in bike hit-and-run'

9 News

The Episcopal diocese of Maryland says the state's first female bishop has been put on leave after her involvement in a fatal hit-and-run crash that occurred in Baltimore during the weekend.

"I am distressed to announce that Bishop Heather E. Cook was involved in a traffic accident Saturday afternoon ... that resulted in the death of a bicyclist," the Right Reverend Eugene Taylor Sutton said in a statement.

Sutton added that Cook left the scene initially, but returned after about 20 minutes "to take responsibility for her actions".

Cook, who was ordained as a priest in 1987 and elected bishop in September, was placed on immediate administrative leave while an oversight committee considers the situation.

2014 in review: An unsettling year, with religion in a starring role

National Catholic Reporter

Kevin Eckstrom Religion News Service | Dec. 29, 2014

For most of recorded history, Isis was an Egyptian goddess, a benevolent type who cared for widows and orphans, cured the sick and even brought the dead back to life.
This year, the world met the other ISIS.

The rise of the so-called Islamic State, variously known as ISIS or ISIL, dominated headlines in 2014 as a self-proclaimed caliphate sowed death and destruction across Iraq and Syria. For some, the group confirmed their worst fears about Muslim extremists, bent on killing religious minorities and subjugating women in a quest for domination that included leveling villages and beheading hostages. ...

Among the names that captured the public imagination in 2014:

* Seattle megachurch pastor Mark Driscoll resigned after facing a series of allegations involving plagiarism, bullying and an unhealthy ego.
* Conservative activist Bill Gothard, an advocate of home-schooling, modest attire and large families, resigned after a series of abuse allegations.
* German Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst, whose $43 million housing renovation earned him the unwelcome nickname “Bishop Bling,” was fired by Pope Francis.
* Washington, D.C., pastor Amy Butler became the first woman named senior pastor of New York’s storied Riverside Church, and Libby Lane was appointed the first female bishop in the Church of England.
* Retired Episcopal Bishop V. Gene Robinson, whose election as the first openly gay bishop ruptured the Anglican Communion, announced his divorce from his husband, Mark Andrew.
* Popes John Paul II and John XXIII were proclaimed saints by Pope Francis, and Pope Paul VI was beatified.
* Sudanese Christian Meriam Ibrahim was finally freed after nearly being executed for apostasy, becoming an icon for many Christians.
* Mormon feminist Kate Kelly was excommunicated for advocating for women in the priesthood.
* Rabbi David Saperstein was confirmed as the first non-Christian U.S. ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
* Blase Cupich was installed as the new archbishop of Chicago, Pope Francis’ first major appointment to the U.S. hierarchy.
* Washington, D.C., Rabbi Barry Freundel was fired after allegedly installing a hidden camera in the mikvah, or ritual bath, used by women at his prominent Georgetown synagogue.

Voor zenboeddhist Shimano was seksueel misbruik ‘a way of life’

NRC (Nederland)

[The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side - The Atlantic]

door Anouk Eigenraam

Bij seksueel misbruik binnen religies is de associatie met het misbruik binnen de katholieke kerk snel gemaakt. Je denkt niet zo snel aan het boeddhisme. In een artikel in The Atlantic betoogt Mark Oppenheimer dat het misbruik binnen het zenboeddhisme niet alleen vele malen groter is, maar ook veel banaler.

Komt seksueel misbruik binnen andere religies niet voor of is het gewoon nog een blinde vlek? Tot nu toe horen we nog weinig over misbruik onder leiders van andere geloven. Maar de vraag is of het misschien niet wat onwaarschijnlijk is om te denken dat seksueel misbruik alleen maar voorbehouden is aan de katholieke kerk.

Het artikel van Oppenheimer, dat onderdeel is van een e-book, spreekt wat dat betreft boekdelen. Bij boeddhisten denk je eerder aan vriendelijk uitziende, vredelievende, kale monniken in een seksloze jurk dan aan achterkamertjes waar de geestelijken hun fysieke lusten botvieren. Maar dat is kennelijk het plaatje aan de buitenkant. Veel zenleiders zijn de afgelopen jaren beschuldigd van seksueel misbruik, intimidatie of het verleiden van hun volgelingen meldt de auteur.

Video: The 'tender' revolution of Pope Francis

France 24

Pope Francis began the year with an overhaul of the Vatican’s scandal-ridden bank and ended it with a scathing critique of the Vatican’s power-hungry bureaucracy.

Since his election as the church's first Jesuit head, the Argentinian pope has proved to be a popular force in the Catholic world and beyond.

He is the first pontiff to have received victims of sexual abuse by clergymen at the Vatican and has set up a commission to root out the "plague" of paedophilia inside the church.

The 78-year-old pope has also launched a number of sweeping financial and administrative reforms, and drawn up a list of the “15 ailments” he says are afflicting Catholicism’s highest-ranking officials.

His calls for “tenderness” and “love”, and salvos against the church bureaucracy’s “spiritual Alzheimer's”, have sanctioned his reputation as the people’s pope. But his soaring popularity and reformist zeal have unsettled some.

Some names not included on diocese abuser list

Gallup Independent

Published in the Gallup Independent, Gallup, N.M., Dec. 23, 2014

By Elizabeth Hardin-Burrola
Independent correspondent

GALLUP — When the Diocese of Gallup publicly released its list of credibly accused sex abusers last week, it failed to include the names of four former Gallup priests who had previously been identified as abusers by other Catholic dioceses or religious orders.

Diego Mazon had been publicly confirmed by an official with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, Harry R. Morgan and Laurence A. Florez had been identified by the Diocese of Phoenix, and Justin Weger had been identified by his religious order, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers.

“The investigation into names and the process of adding to the list has not ended,” diocesan spokeswoman Suzanne Hammons said in an emailed response to a question about the discrepancy. “Bishop Wall mentioned in his letter that ‘The publication of these additional names does not mean that our vigilance and continued investigation ends here. The investigations remain ongoing.’”

Hammons did not explain what further investigation could reveal about four men who have already been identified as credibly accused sexual abusers by other Catholic officials.

Diego Mazon

Diego Mazon is a Franciscan friar living at a retirement facility run by Albuquerque’s Franciscan Province of Our Lady of Guadalupe. In 2005, Mazon was named as a defendant, along with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe and Cincinnati’s Franciscan Province of St. John the Baptist, in a clergy sex abuse lawsuit (D-202CV-200503804) filed in Albuquerque’s district court. The lawsuit claimed that Mazon had sexually molested a young Hispanic girl in St. John’s Parish in Roswell in the 1970s.

Mazon was working in the Diocese of Gallup when the abuse survivor came forward, and diocesan officials removed him from ministry at Gallup’s St. Francis Church. Parishioners were not informed of either the allegation or the lawsuit; instead they were told Mazon was stepping down because of ill health. In 2009, Annette M. Klimka, the victim assistance coordinator for the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, confirmed that church officials had reached a settlement with the female abuse survivor in 2006.

Mazon was also recently listed as being credibly accused in U.S. Bankruptcy Court documents. James Stang, the legal counsel for the Official Committee of Unsecured Creditors, stated the Diocese of Gallup “has admitted there are credible allegations of sexual abuse against members of the Franciscan Friars, (i.e. Fathers Charles Cichanowicz, Julian Hartig, Diego Mazon) …” in a motion filed Oct. 30.

In addition to working at St. Francis in Gallup a decade ago, Mazon worked at Our Lady of Blessed Sacrament in Fort Defiance, Ariz. from 1991-94, and at St. Joseph’s in San Fidel, N.M. in 1978, according to the Official Catholic Directory.

Morgan and Florez

Harry R. Morgan and Laurence A. Florez were two longtime Gallup priests who transferred to the Diocese of Phoenix when that diocese was created in December 1969. In 2012, the Phoenix Diocese publicly released its own list of credibly accused sex abusers, and both Morgan and Florez were — and still are — on that list.

Gallup Bishop James Wall, a former Phoenix priest, served as vicar for priests in the Phoenix Diocese under Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted. It is not known why Wall hasn’t relied on information about Morgan and Florez that Olmsted released two years ago.

According to the Official Catholic Directory, the Gallup chancery always assigned Morgan to its parishes in Arizona. Morgan worked at St. Joseph’s Church in Winslow, Ariz., in 1954, St. John the Baptist in St. Johns, Ariz., from 1955-58, St. Pius X in East Flagstaff, Ariz., from 1959-63, and St. Joseph’s in Williams, Ariz., from 1964-69. Morgan also served as the Diocese of Gallup’s Family Life Director from 1961 to 1966.

Later, while Morgan was working for the Diocese of Phoenix in Fountain Hills, Ariz., he was arrested Feb. 17, 1975, and charged with molesting a 9-year-old boy. In August 1975, Morgan pleaded no contest in Maricopa County Superior Court, and two months later, Judge C. Kimball Rose sentenced him to 10 years probation.

During Florez’s years in the Diocese of Gallup, he worked at the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Flagstaff, Ariz. in 1960, the Santo Nino Parish in Aragon, N.M., in 1961-62, Our Lady of Guadalupe in Holbrook, Ariz., from 1963-64, St. Mary’s in Kingman, Ariz., in 1965, and St. John Vianney in Sedona from 1966-69. Florez and the Diocese of Phoenix were later named in a clergy abuse lawsuit in Arizona in 1993.

Weger and more

Earlier this year, the Crosier Fathers and Brothers released a comprehensive list of 19 current, former and deceased members of their religious order who have credible allegations against them. Two Crosier priests who worked in the Gallup Diocese, Timothy Conlon, O.S.C. and Justin Weger, O.S.C., were included.

Although the Diocese of Gallup’s recently released list included Conlon, it did not include Weger.

According to the Crosiers, Weger worked part-time for the Gallup Diocese in 1974-75, providing weekend assistance in the diocese’s Arizona and New Mexico parishes. He was removed from ministry in 1976.

The addition of Mazon, Morgan, Florez and Weger would push the Diocese of Gallup’s list of credibly accused abusers to 34 priests and one lay volunteer. That number, however, still does not include Brother Mark Schornack, O.F.M. and the Rev. James Lindenmeyer, who were both named as alleged abusers in clergy abuse lawsuits filed in Arizona before the Diocese of Gallup filed its Chapter 11 petition in U.S. Bankruptcy Court.

It also does not include five reported Franciscan friars — Ephrem Beltramea (listed as Ephraim Beltremea), Eugene Botello, Crispin Butz, Finnian Connolly and Clementin (listed as Clemetine) Wottle — who were named as alleged perpetrators by confidential claimants in the bankruptcy case.
If all those alleged abusers are eventually determined to be credibly accused, that will drive the Diocese of Gallup’s list up to more than 40 men.

Concerned Catholics start petition

Pacific Daily News

Written by
Malorie Paine
Pacific Daily News

The Concerned Catholics of Guam, a nonprofit organization formed to bring attention to what it believes are financial and leadership problems within the local Catholic Church, is circulating a petition to gather support in "resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities."

The petition is not against the archdiocese, but is intended to show support for the Concerned Catholics, Vangie Lujan, secretary of the nonprofit group, said during a press conference yesterday morning.

The petition will be presented to three Vatican officials, who will be visiting Guam from Jan. 3 to 10, 2015, and to the archdiocese.

The petition addresses three objectives of the Concerned Catholics, including the clergy and laity, parish affairs, and archdiocesan affairs, according to organization's website.

Under the clergy and laity objectives, one of the main areas of focus is to provide grants and scholarships to aspiring local seminarians to attend an established and an accredited Diocesan seminary.

My interview on Lawpreneur Radio: Civil rights for crime victims

The Worthy Adversary

Posted by Joelle Casteix on December 29, 2014

Last, week, I spoke with Miranda Dempsey McCroskey of Lawpreneur Radio about the importance of civil rights for crime victims, how plaintiffs’ attorneys have been instrumental in exposing abuse … and, of course, THE WELL-ARMORED CHILD. The podcast is up and you can listen here.

Or, you can check out the interview on iTunes.

"Die klerikale Struktur ist zäh"


[After becoming aware of the abuse scandal five years ago, the psychotherapist and theologian Wunibald Müller has called for structural changes in the Catholic Church. An initial assessment.]

Nach dem Bekanntwerden des Missbrauchsskandals vor fünf Jahren hat der Psychotherapeut und Theologe Wunibald Müller strukturelle Veränderungen in der katholischen Kirche gefordert. Eine erste Bilanz.

Im Interview mit der Katholischen Nachrichten-Agentur (KNA) zieht der Leiter des Münsterschwarzacher Recollectio-Hauses für kirchliche Mitarbeiter in Lebenskrisen Bilanz.

KNA: Herr Müller, fünf Jahre sind seit dem Bekanntwerden des Missbrauchsskandals vergangen. Was hat sich getan?

Müller: Die Bischöfe sind wachsamer geworden. Die Überarbeitung der Leitlinien hat viel gebracht. Mittlerweile werden auch alle kirchlichen Mitarbeiter in Prävention geschult und sensibilisiert.

Externe sind oft die Ansprechpartner für Opfer. Und es ist jetzt klar, dass Jugendliche nicht mehr im Pfarrhaus schlafen oder der Pfarrer mit ihnen duscht. Verglichen mit dem, was vor 15 Jahren war, ist das sehr viel. Da konnte noch jede einzelne Diözese entscheiden, wie sie im Falle von sexuellem Missbrauch vorgeht.

"Schule ist sehr viel sicherer geworden"


[Jesuit priest Klaus Mertes talks about the five years since he opened up the major sexual abuse scandal at Canisius College in Berlin.]

Bilanz, nicht Schlussstrich: Der Jesuit Klaus Mertes spricht im Interview über fünf Jahre Aufarbeitung von Missbrauchsfällen in der katholischen Kirche. Und er hofft auf weitere Reformen der Kirche, um Machtmissbrauch wirksam zu bekämpfen.

KNA: Pater Mertes, hätten Sie sich jemals vorstellen können, mit Ihrem Brief vor fünf Jahren eine solche Lawine auszulösen?

Mertes: Nein, aber das heißt nicht, dass ich den Schritt bereue. Im Gegenteil. Mir war von Anfang an klar, dass es allein bei dem einen Pater in Berlin mindestens 100 Opfer geben muss. Ich musste mich daher an die potenziell betroffenen Jahrgänge richten, um klar zu machen: Damals ist Euch nicht zugehört worden, heute aber bin ich dazu bereit.

Mahnmal gegen Groer vor Stephansdom


[A millstone monument has been erected in fron of Vienna's St. Stephen's Cathedral to draw attention to the church abuse scandal and as a protest against the lasting admiration for the late Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer. It has been alleged that Groer abused minors and covered-up sexual abuse.]

Von Christoph Baumgarten

WIEN. (hpd) Die Plattform Betroffener kirchlicher Gewalt hat vor dem Wiener Stephansdom ein Mahnmal in Form eines Mühlsteins aufgestellt. Es soll auf den Missbrauchsskandal in der Kirche aufmerksam machen – und Protest gegen die nach wie vor anhaltende Verehrung für den verstorbenen Kardinal Hans Hermann Groer sein.

Es war ein symbolträchtiger Tag, den sich die Plattform Betroffener kirchlicher Gewalt für ihre Protestaktion ausgesucht hat. Und es war eine symbolträchtige Geste. Am katholischen “Tag der unschuldigen Kinder” deponierte Obmann Sepp Rothwangl einen 300 Kilogramm schweren Mühlstein vor dem Wiener Stephansdom.

Tag der unschuldigen Kinder: Heute wird Mega-Mühlstein am Wiener Stephansplatz aus Protest gegen kirchliche Missbrauchsverbrechen enthüllt


[A 300-kg millstone was deposited at Stephansplatz in Vienna to remember cover-up and dneial of sexual, physical and psychological violence against innocent children by church representatives.]

(Wien, 28.12.14, PUR) Einen 300 kg schweren Mühlstein deponiert die Plattform Betroffener kirchlicher Gewalt am 28. Dezember am Stephansplatz. Der 28.12 ist der “Tag der unschuldigen Kinder“ – Gedenktag der ermordeten Kinder von Bethlehem nach Herodes´ Geheiß. Mit der Hinterlegung des Mühlsteins vor dem Stephansdom erinnert die Plattform an die Vertuschung und Verleugnung sexueller, körperlicher und seelischer Gewalt an unschuldigen Kindern durch Kirchenrepräsentanten. Der nunmehr vor dem Stephansplatz angekommene Mühlstein ist bereits weitgereist: Zuerst war er – im kleineren Format – im oberösterreichischen Hohenzell. Dort wurde er von Aktivisten als Gegengewicht neben einer Ehrentafel für den verstorbenen Kardinal Hans Hermann Groer angebracht.


Jungle Watch

[with documents]

Submitted by Tim Rohr
December 28, 2014, Hagatna, Guam

A PDF copy is available here.

July 16, 2013. Fr. Paul Gofigan is called to a meeting with Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Msgr. David C. Quitugua, the Vicar General. At the meeting he is read a letter 1 :

* accusing him of disobeying an order from the Vicar General to terminate an employee two years previously
* accusing him of causing “grave harm to the parish…especially the youth” and creating “a lasting and potential threat to the safety and well-being” of his parishioners and staff
* demanding his immediate resignation as pastor of Santa Barbara parish or face a more “arduous and painful closure to your assignment”
* telling him to go “look for a benevolent bishop willing to accept you.”
According to Fr. Gofigan, upon returning to his office, Fr. Gofigan finds himself locked out of his office - the archbishop having ordered the locks changed while he was at the meeting with the archbishop.

July 17, 2013. The very next day Fr. Paul Gofigan is officially removed as pastor of his parish by an Aviso 2 appointing Rev. Father Dan Bien as the Parochial Administrator of Santa Barbara Church, upon which Fr. Gofigan is then:
* removed from the schedule of presiders, effectively censuring him without due process
* told to vacate the rectory with no alternative residence provided

July 22, 2013. Fr. Gofigan writes to Archbishop Apuron stating his rejection of the archbishop’s demand that he resign and asserts his canonical rights for “basic due process”, all of which had been heretofore violated by the archbishop. 3

July 22, 2013. The chancery releases a public statement to the media 4 :
accusing Fr. Gofigan of disobeying “ a directive from the Archbishop”
implying that the subject employee was and is a danger to children: “A school full of children is in very close proximity to the parish.”

July 28, 2013. Fr. Gofigan writes Archbishop Apuron and requests a copy of his decree of removal and states his intention to seek “recourse to the author of the decree in accordance with C. 1734.1 and names his advocate: Father Adolfo N. Dacanay, S.J. 5

August 2, 2013. The Vicar General writes Father Gofigan saying that there is no decree of removal because he was never removed and that the letter of July 16, 2013 demanding his resignation was only an attempt to “persuade the pastor to resign.” 6

August 20, 2014. Archbishop Apuron writes Father Gofigan:
* again accusing him of disobeying his 2011 instruction to terminate the employee
* again accusing the employee of being a danger to parishioners
* again accusing the employee of specifically being a danger to children
* claiming that there is no guarantee that the employee, who went to prison in 1981 for sexual assault, * will never commit sexual assault again, thus justifying his accusation that the man is still a danger.
* again demands Fr. Gofigan’s resignation as pastor (even though he was already officially replaced with an administrator, effectively removing Fr. Gofigan as pastor and making a letter of resignation unnecessary.) 7

Concerned Catholics Group Demands Apology from Archbishop

Pacific News Center

Written by Janela Carrera

Guam - The Concerned Catholics of guam is demanding an apology from Archbishop Anthony Apuron for referring to them as a group that’s plotting against the Church.

The group held a press conference today saying they are appalled that the archbishop would refer to them that way as their objective is to assist the church in healing the division within the catholic community. The reference was allegedly made in a letter Archbishop Apuron wrote to Deacon Steve Martinez last week, demanding that Deacon Martinez cut ties with CCOG or face censureship.

"We wanted to bring this to the attention of the media of the public that this is wrong. We are not plotting against the church. We love our church, we wanna help her," said Vice President Dave Sablan. "Is this group really plotting against the church and that is why Deacon Steve is being asked to step down or face censurehsip? That is not true. So if he is censured he’s being censured on false claims because we have been very transparent about our organization. We have requested to meet with the archbishop."

Catholics group demands apology from archbishop


by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Concerned Catholics of Guam organization is demanding an apology from Archbishop Anthony Apuron as the pastoral visit nears for implying that the organization is plotting against the church.

As you may recall the latest rift stems from Deacon Steve Martinez's involvement in the organization where he serves as the treasurer, and although Martinez was absent from today's meeting he has pledged his support. Martinez was given an ultimatum by the archbishop to discontinue his involvement with the CCOG or face censure, in which all his faculties would be removed.

"But the deacon has basically said what we are doing is right and good therefore there is nothing wrong with his membership here and he is willing an prepared to continue his work with us even under threat of censureship so he is not really concerned with the deadline he hopes that things will get resolved before the deadline of the 19th of January I believe," said CCOG vice president Dave Sablan.

Archbishop Apuron in a letter dated December 17th accuses Martinez of being in violation of Canon Law 1374. Sablan said, "It says that if an individual is a member of an association that is plotting against the church then they would be receiving a just punishment and interdiction."

Spirituele Alzheimer


Verzoening, tederheid, vrijheid, verantwoordelijkheid, gemeenschapszin, begrip voor de ander – ik zeg ja! Mooie woorden horen bij de Kerst, net als het fossiele Home Alone, de sleetse André Rieu en de overdaad aan interviews waarin wordt teruggekeken op groot verdriet („Ik liep de helft van de week te janken”). Gerieflijk omdat het zo voorspelbaar is, een koesterende oproep aan je betere ik, dat diep in jezelf begraven ligt, maar in de laatste dagen van het jaar plotseling ruim baan krijgt. Driehonderd dagen per jaar gaat het over jezelf, de laatste dagen van het jaar zijn voor de Ander.

Juist daarom was de jaarlijkse „kerstgroet” van de paus aan de Romeinse curie een vlammende verrassing: een verzengende aanklacht tegen de al te wereldse, al te menselijke aanvechtingen van de kardinalen die in het Vaticaan de dienst uitmaken. Zonder pardon somde Franciscus de zonden van zijn gehoor op, in vijftien schrijnende punten – men voelde zich onsterfelijk, immuun of onvervangbaar, men werkte excessief hard, raakte geestelijk „versteend”, plande te veel, werkte slecht samen, zag de ander vooral als rivaal, er werd teveel gekletst en geroddeld, men keek te slaafs op naar meerderen, te weinig om naar anderen, men liep rond met een begrafenisgezicht, bewoog zich het liefst in een klein, besloten kringetje, wilde van alles steeds maar meer, en er heerste een grote hang naar winst en exhibitionisme.

Forum editorial: Pope puts his words into action



What are Catholics, and the world for that matter, to make of the stern words of Pope Francis in his Christmas lecture to senior Vatican staff? The pope minced no words in an unexpectedly harsh critique of the conduct and lifestyles of cardinals and church high officials. His extraordinary rebuke of Vatican hierarchy and bureaucracy signaled that the reforms he said he would institute will happen.

The pontiff’s denunciation of the scandal-ridden Curia, the Vatican’s administrative apparatus, was in keeping with criticism he has leveled since he was elected in March 2013. But the intensity and strong language of the Dec. 22 address to the assembled Curia were an unexpected ramping up of his campaign. And that he chose the annual address in the Apostolic Palace to denounce the Curia added more weight to his pledge to reform the Vatican’s bureaucracy.

He’s already started the housecleaning. Several senior cardinals have been replaced and/or demoted, including a few who have openly resisted the pope’s initiative. Francis shined his rhetorical klieg lights on cardinals and other church leaders who, by his definition, have adopted patrician lifestyles that are not in keeping with the doctrines of the Catholic Church.

Vatican Bank Joins 100 Nations In FATCA Offshore Account Hunt


Robert W. Wood

In his annual Christmas messages to more than one billion Catholics, the Pope may have left out something: offshore account compliance. Maybe, but the U.S. Treasury is more than happy to fill in the blanks. Just before Christmas, the Holy See reached the substance of an Intergovernmental Agreement (IGA) to hand over American account details. FATCA is everywhere, and the fact that the Treasury Department now trumpets the Vatican deal should come as no surprise.

The Holy See is not part of the European Union and should not be confused with Vatican City. The Holy See is the ecclesiastical jurisdiction of the Catholic church. The Vatican Bank has had its share of corruption kerfuffles in the past. Indeed, the Vatican Bank isn’t exactly transparent, and released its first annual report in 2013.

With transparency comes compliance, and there may well be some accounts held for American clergy that will need to be cleaned up. If accounts are held through entities or via proxies, they still could require disclosure. Presumably the ultimate beneficiaries of the accounts will be known to someone, and that means reporting.

A man of healing, a saga of suffering

Washington Post

Written by Sari Horwitz


He was a world-famous medicine man, a traditional healer and spiritual leader. Followers would travel long distances to this tiny hamlet on the Great Plains to be in his presence and pray in the darkness with him in a sacred sweat lodge.

But Charles Chipps Sr., a medicine man on the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, had a dark secret, federal prosecutors say.

For years, they allege, Chipps sexually abused and raped girls, including some of his own daughters and granddaughters; many of the alleged victims were younger than 12 and several were as young as 5. A girl from Colorado whose aunt brought her to meet Chipps for spiritual guidance committed suicide after revealing the abuse she allegedly suffered.

TOP: Lena Chipps, shown near the skeleton of a sweat lodge, is the sister-in-law of Charles Chipps Sr., above, who is accused of sexually abusing girls for years on an Indian reservation. The allegations against Chipps have torn his family apart, with some relatives and friends supporting him and others shunning him. Now 67, the medicine man has pleaded not guilty. (Obtained by The Post)
The sexual abuse of children has long been regarded as a rampant if largely unspoken problem on Native American reservations, in part a legacy of a boarding school system that was designed to assimilate students and subjected them to widespread sexual, emotional and physical abuse, according to Native leaders and prosecutors. But Chipps’s case, as described in court testimony, is among the most shocking — entailing allegations that a respected elder sexually abused at least six girls.

It is also an illustration of the ways in which the federal, state and tribal legal maze that governs Indian country can complicate the pursuit of justice and, in Chipps’s case, allowed him to go free for three years after he was first jailed.

December 28, 2014

Rev. Thomas R. HOPP (1940 - 2014)

Cincinnati Enquirer

[BishopAccountability.org database - Cincinnati archdiocese]

Reverend Thomas R., died December 21, 2014, Fr. Hopp was born October 8, 1940 and was Ordained May 28, 1966. He served in various parishes in the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. The Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated Monday, December 29, 2014 at 10 AM at All Saints Church in Kenwood. Burial will immediately follow at Gate of Heaven Cemetery.

Pope Francis: Children Are Good & More Children Are Better ???

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* It is astonishing to me as the youngest of ten children and father of four children to read that Pope Francis, a celibate bachelor, is still pushing couples to have more children. Francis even stresses the need to pump up Italy’s low birth rate, as militaristic Mussolini likely did in 1930 when his “ally”, Pope Pius XI, banned birth control apparently out of concern for the threat of the expanding atheistic Soviets and a depleted post-World War I population in Western Europe.

* Pope Francis even suggests that couples may be having less children due to “egoism”. Francis reportedly said on 12/28/14: “In a world often marked by egoism, a large family is a school of solidarity and of mission that’s of benefit to the entire society, … ” . This is likely insulting and offensive to many sincere and responsible couples, I believe. It is to me. To paraphrase pertinent remarks of former Irish president, Mary McAleese, how many “nappies” has Francis ever changed? Is he really serious here?

* Family size should be the decision of couples and their families and not of their celibate and out of touch priests, no? Of course, it should be left up to each couple to assess and act responsibly and reasonably depending on their circumstance. Please see my related remarks at:

* [Christian Catholicism]

* This papal population push is apparently endorsed by papal promoter, John Allen. He is married, but seemingly is as unaware as Francis is, as to the serious consequences for families of having more children than a family may be able to handle. Children may be good, but more children may or may not be better — for the newest child, as well as for siblings and the parents involved. It just depends on the individual circumstances. Only childless celibates seem to have difficulty understanding this, it seems, no?

REBUTTAL to Peggy Noonan’s article ‘Cardinal, Please Spare This Church’ in Wall Street Journal – Opus Dei Beast PR Stunt of Day in US


December 26, 2014

Paris Arrow

Introduction. Read our related articles: Learning from the Temple of Solomon and saving historical Our Lady of Assumption Church – ‘No building is more important than this one’ http://pope-francis-con-christ.blogspot.ca/2014/11/learning-from-temple-of-solomon-and.html

Jesus Christ is liberated from hundreds of tabernacles (prison) in Catholic churches shut down, sold-off, converted into apartments, stores, warehouses http://popecrimes.blogspot.ca/2014/09/jesus-christ-is-liberated-from-hundreds.html

Last November, Cardinal Dolan announced the merger of 112 (of the archdiocese’s 368) parishes consolidated to create 55 new parishes and the sale of 30 churches located in prime real estate in New York. A month later, on December 14, The New York Times published an article that “New York Archdiocese Appears Likely to Shutter More Churches” – indicating that an additional 38 parishes will merge, to create 16 new ones, among the affected churches, 11 would effectively close.

Concerned Catholics of Guam Petition

Concerned Catholics of Guam

The Concerned Catholics of Guam (CCOG) organization has stepped forward to offer assistance in resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities. The objectives of CCOG can be found by clicking here. In support of these objectives, CCOG is distributing a petition to collect names and signatures of supporters. Click the links below to view and download the petition and objectives:

CCOG Support Petition

CCOG Objectives

We hope to gather 2000 signatures by January 3, 2015. Please return any signed pages to Perez Brothers, Inc. in Harmon or contact Vangie Lujan by sending her a message on our Contact Us page.

Concerned Guam Catholics circulate petition

Marianas Variety

28 Dec 2014 By Jasmine Stole - jasmine@mvguam.com - Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — The recently organized Concerned Catholics of Guam group has ​decided to circulate a petition to collect names and signatures of people who support the organization’s mission and objectives. The group aims to collect 2,000 signatures by Jan. 3, 2015, one day before three high level Church leaders are expected to visit Guam.

The petition is the latest development amid several connected controversies surrounding the local archdiocese.

The Concerned Catholics of Guam or CCOG posted a blank printable petition sheet and their objectives online. They aim to target local parishioners ages 16 years old and older for support.

In a short announcement posted on its website, the organization said it has “stepped forward to offer assistance in resolving the divisive misunderstandings that currently plague our Catholic parish communities” and invited the community to endorse their cause.

The group listed 15 objectives it wishes to tackle. The issues are related to the clergy, laity, parish affairs and the archdiocesan affairs. Seven of the fifteen objectives focus on more involvement, strengthening Catholic traditions and amending the Agana Archdiocese’s current policies.

Pope Francis, JUST DO IT, Please, For God’s Sake !!!

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* Pope Francis is a sports fan, a “football enthusiast”. Recently, he cutely observed reportedly that “oddsmakers” last year had him, in effect, as a “dark horse” candidate for papal election at 25-1. Francis convincingly cleared the papal field, but after almost two years of play, he is falling behind in the “match” to save the Catholic Church.

* Pope Francis at times seems like the legendary “Dutch Boy” trying to plug the Vatican dikes’ unending leaks with his papal fingers, but ten fingers are woefully inadequate for the task. The child abuse tsunami is too massive. He needs help, real help!

* Pope Francis needs now to follow Nike’s advice and “Just Do It“. The odds against him “Just Doing It” must be even higher, especially given his present losing “gameplan”. He needs at a minimum to add new players as Cardinals in February, especially women like the former Irish president , Mary McAleese, and Illinois Supreme Court Justice, Anne Burke, and some wise men, like Fr. Hans Kung and Fr. Thomas Doyle. The pope must revise his losing “gameplan” now before his papal clock runs out and a new coach takes over, even further behind in the score.

* Francis needs to be at least as bold as Pope John XXIII was a half century ago. John, in effect, appointed several “dissident” theologians as key experts at the Second Vatican Council and some informed women to advise his major birth control commission.

* Francis’ recent Christmas “attack move” on Vatican officials was surely an exciting play that thrilled Francis’ many fans, but it is not enough. Pope Francis cannot avoid any longer changing fundamentally the dysfunctional and obsolete top down monarchical management structure, and acting effectively and convincingly to curtail the scandals involving continuing priest child abuse, sexually repressive teachings and hierarchical financial corruption, among others, that evidently thrive in the present structure.

* The first Catholics consensually managed their leaders; Catholics can and must do so again, as discussed below. Otherwise, the Vatican Titanic will continue to sink. Unless Pope Francis acts promptly, while he yet is still able, to make the worldwide Catholic 0.01% leadership accountable again to the Catholic 99.9% laity, he will likely lose his final match.


Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse


Tues 20 – Fri 30 Private sessions in capital cities Brisbane, Sydney, Melbourne and Perth
Wed 28 – Fri 30 Private sessions in regional areas


Mon 2 - Fri 13 Public hearing: Case Study 22, Melbourne
Tues 3 – Fri 27 Private sessions in capital cities Melbourne, Adelaide, Brisbane and Sydney
Wed 18 – Fri 27 Private sessions in regional areas
Mon 23 – Fri 6 Public hearing Sydney


Tues 3 – Tues 31 Private sessions in capital cities Sydney, Perth, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane
Tues 10 – Fri 20 Public hearing Sydney
Tues 17 – Fri 20 Private sessions in regional areas
Wed 25 – Fri 27 Public hearing Sydney

Pledge to bring Scotland’s child abusers to justice

Scottish Sunday Express


PAEDOPHILES will “face the full force of the law” promised education secretary Angela Constance yesterday as she unveiled a landmark probe into historic child sex abuse.

Ms Constance told MSPs the statutory public inquiry would have the powers to force witnesses to give evidence.

She said abusers would be brought to justice where evidence of crimes was uncovered. The long-awaited move follows a string of scandals and claims of an Establishment paedophile ring.

Abuse in the Catholic Church and in children’s homes in Scotland is also likely to be investigated. Ms Constance said the full remit of the inquiry and who will lead it would be confirmed by the end of April. Consultation with abuse survivors will take place next month.

She said: “This parliament must always be on the side of victims of abuse. We must have the truth of what happened to them and how those organisations and individuals into whose care the children were entrusted, failed them so catastrophically.

Two more former ministers accused of sexually abusing children ...

Daily Mail

Two more former ministers accused of sexually abusing children 30 years ago in alleged Westminster paedophile ring


Another two former ministers have been accused of sexually abusing children in the 1980s as part of an alleged ring of Westminster paedophiles.

Their names were given to police investigating claims politicians routinely raped young boys and girls at a number of addresses in the capital 30 years ago.

MP John Mann, who handed a dossier of information to Scotland Yard, was approached by the two new politicians' alleged victim last week.

They join 22 others named by Mann to police, six of whom are still in Parliament, the Sunday Times reports.

SAfrica Hindu Maha Sabha to regulate priests amid abuse claims

Business Standard

Press Trust of India

The South African Hindu Maha Sabha has announced plans to regulate Hindu priests in the country amid growing concerns over alleged exploitation and abuse by priests.

The South African Hindu Maha Sabha has asked all temples in the country to submit qualifications of the priests for consideration by its Priests' Accreditation Committee, which will be accredited by the government-run South African Qualifications Authority.

"We have received reports of people posing as priests and duping people who put their trust and faith in them. It is this type of priest who taints the name of all Hindu priests, especially when their activities are highlighted in the media and even brought to court sometimes," Sabha President Ashwin Trikamjee said.

He said the committee was established after receiving complaints of priests conducting rituals with naive devotees in questionable ways, charging exorbitant fees for ceremonies.

The Observer view on Pope Francis

The Observer

Observer editorial

On Christmas Eve, Pope Francis, “a pope for the poor”, the first Jesuit elected to the papacy, returned to what has become a recurring theme of his first two years in office – the venality of power and extreme wealth and the lessons wrenched from poverty. The light in the sky at the birth of Christ, he said in his address, was not seen by “the arrogant, the proud, by those who made laws according to their own personal measures”, but by “the unassuming”.

Some of the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See, whom earlier in the week had been the recipients of the pope’s blistering attack on the 15 ailments that plague the Vatican, must, again, have felt the sting of criticism. On Monday, the 78-year-old had railed against the upper echelons of the church for being infected by careerism, backstabbing and hypocrisy. The pope criticised “the terrorism of gossip” that could “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood ”. Officials, he said, suffered from “spiritual Alzheimer’s”, they were rivals and boastful, they sought worldly profit and had become hardened to others. His reception was frosty.

Pope Francis, born in Argentina of Italian heritage, is a man engaged with the world. He recently achieved a major coup, brokering the restoration of relations between the US and Cuba. At Davos, he chided the rich for neglecting the “frail, weak and vulnerable”. A neoliberal he isn’t. In Evangelii Gaudiium (The Joy of the Gospel), his first major work after he became pope, the pontiff wrote: “The worship of the ancient golden calf… has returned in a new and ruthless guise in the idolatry of money and the dictatorship of an impersonal economy.”

On the Sicilian island of Lampedusa, 70 miles from the Tunisian coast, he demanded more action to save African refugees drowning in the seas in their quest for a better life. “In this globalised world,” he said, “we have fallen into globalised indifference.” ...

The Vatican still has its scandals, most notably the incalculable hurt caused to tens of thousands by helping to cover up decades of child sexual abuse, but Pope Francis appears to be trying to bring transparency and accountability. He speaks on behalf of the poor but how much is he prepared to challenge the power of those, including the church, with an excess of influence and wealth?

Diseased hierarchy



Sunday, December 28th, 2014

Pope Francis continues to shock and astound. The first Latin American pontiff, who has shaken up the Vatican and the worldwide Catholic congregation with the refreshingly casual, forthright approach he has brought to his centuries-old office, made headlines anew this week with a broadside that must have left many in his intended audience squirming in their chasubles.

The recipients of his strong words were not the usual bête noires of the Church he leads—the gays, divorcees, practitioners of contraception, peoples of other faiths and moral relativists of the world—but men closer to his backyard. His colleagues, in fact, in the Vatican, the august cardinals who run the Roman Curia, the governing body of the Catholic Church. To them, Pope Francis spoke not in the pious felicitations that had heretofore characterized the traditional pre-Christmas meeting between the Vatican bureaucrats and the Pope, but in words that clearly intended to cut through the banalities to get to the point.

In a stinging rundown of “15 diseases” that he said were eating away at the top hierarchy of the Church, the outspoken Pope outdid himself with a speech that brimmed with strikingly vivid, unapologetically straightforward language. The Curia—long the subject of scrutiny for its widely reported penchant for intrigue, infighting and disreputable activities, from the careerism of its officials to the irregularities attending its finances—was in danger of bringing the Church down not only with its internal rot, but also by its inability to recognize its errors, he warned. “A Curia that does not practice self-criticism, does not keep up to date, does not try to better itself, is an infirm body.”

Priest jailed for abusing boys

The Corkman

PUBLISHED 28/12/2014

A 71-year-old retired missionary priest from North Cork has been jailed for three years for sexually abusing two boys at a Co Cork boarding school where he taught in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s.

Tadhg O Dalaigh, a native of Boherbue but with an address at Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Dublin, pleaded guilty earlier this year to five counts of abusing one of the boys at Colaiste an Chroi Naofa in Carrignavar in 1982 and 1983

And in June, O Dalaigh, a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, was convicted by a unanimous verdict of a jury following a two day trial at Cork Circuit Criminal Court of sexually assaulting a second boy at the school in 1979.

Last week, Judge Donagh McDonagh sentenced O Dalaigh to five years in jail with two years suspended for the abuse of the boy whose complaint went to trial while he imposed a three year concurrent sentence for the abuse of the other boy to which O'Dalaigh pleaded guilty.

Pope curbs power of ‘sick, gossiping’ Vatican officials

The Sunday Times

Peter Stanford Published: 28 December 2014

HERE is a lesson on keeping faith with voters for today’s politicians: when Pope Francis was elected by his fellow cardinals 21 months ago, they gave him a mandate to overhaul the curia, the Vatican bureaucracy that many feared had become more powerful than the pontiff.

The subject had come up time and again in the “general congregations”, the gatherings of cardinals before the vote to choose a new pope in 2013. Francis, they decided, was the man best placed to deliver.

Once in office, the former Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio of Buenos Aires, an outsider who had never worked in the curia, has been as good as his word and his reforms have been progressing purposefully since he took up residence in the Vatican.

Let the real Francis stand out

Times of Malta

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 00:01 by Fr Joe Borg

The following was the reaction of Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican governor and foreign minister, to the Pope’s address to the Roman Curia earlier on last week, which quite naturally made the headlines: “To be honest, nothing like this has ever happened before.”

It is customary for the Pope to meet the officials of the Roman Curia at this time of year to exchange Christmas greetings. During this meeting the Pope addresses the gathered cardinals, bishops and monsignors about the state of the world, the main events and projections of the pontificate. Instead Francis spoke about the Curia, and, to boot, about the “illnesses we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia”.

He listed 15 different illnesses or diseases. The news bulletin released by the Vatican Information Services minced no words when titling the report: “Francis: a Curia that is outdated, sclerotic or indifferent to others is an ailing body.”

The Pope, quite naturally, departed from tradition for a reason. He is fully conscious of two things: structural change without personal conversion leads to a cul-de-sac and his plan to radically reform the Roman Curia – a reform mandated by the cardinals during their pre-papal election meetings – is opposed by many high officials within the same Curia. Some express their dissent underhandedly while others, as is their right, do it publicly. Cardinal Leo Burke, who before his recent re-assignment was the prefect of the Church’s highest court, had said that there is a strong sense among many that the Church under Pope Francis “is like a ship without a rudder”.

Sexual abuse victims find healing in GRACE report

Greenville News

Lyn Riddle, lnriddle@greenvillenews.com December 27, 2014

Cathy Harris quickly read through the report criticizing Bob Jones University leaders for the way they handled reports of sexual assault and abuse.

Now she's making her way through it again, deliberately this time, trying to sort it all out, letting herself feel all the emotions she tries hard to hold back.

Harris is one of the survivors of sexual assault who spoke with investigators from GRACE, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, which was paid by Bob Jones University to look into the school's counseling practices.

GRACE's two-year investigation found that counseling services were harmful, some students were dissuaded from making police reports, and sermons and classroom lectures made victims feel as if they had brought the abuse on themselves by what they wore or how they acted.

The report singled out Bob Jones III, the chancellor and former president, and Jim Berg, the former dean of students who counseled between 200 and 300 sexual abuse victims in 30 years. GRACE recommended personnel action against Jones and suggested that Berg not be allowed to counsel students, teach counseling and that his books on counseling be removed from the bookstore and online.

Jones and Berg could not be reached for comment.

TOP 10: Two high-profile sex cases shake North Attleboro

Sun Chronicle

Posted: Sunday, December 28, 2014


A former assistant pastor of an Attleboro church is now in prison and a former music teacher and guidance counselor in North Attleboro has a rape indictment pending against him in two shocking sex abuse cases this past year.

The Rev. Jeffrey A. Nichols, 48, was a trusted man of the cloth at Grace Baptist Church and a well-respected principal of Grace Baptist Christian Academy until his arrest Jan. 13 for molesting one of his seventh-grade female students.

He confessed to Pastor Jeff Bailey, who urged him to immediately turn himself in, and then admitted to his crimes when questioned by police. Nichols repeatedly indecently touched the girl, beginning in 2008 when she was only 13. He also made sexual comments to her, exposed himself to her and asked her to expose herself to him, prosecutors said after his arrest.

On Nov. 6, Nichols, a married father of three children whose wife was also a teacher at the school, was sentenced in Fall River Superior Court to a maximum 5-year prison term after pleading guilty.

Pope Francis preached ‘15 ailments of Curia’ but excluded misogyny, Swiss Banks’ theft, Malta’s theft, Vatican Concordats’ theft...

PopeCrimes& Vatican Evils.

Paris Arrow

December 25, 2014 Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all our friends and readers

Christmas Vatican Circus: Master of Deceits – Pope Francis embodies the 15 ailments – plus more secret Jesuit illnesses

In Christmas 2010, we wrote “The Devil’s Bowels smell like roses in the Vatican” http://jp2army.blogspot.ca/2010/12/devils-bowels-smell-like-roses-in.html . Last month we wrote (unknowingly, St. Michael inspired it to be a prelude to the 15 ailments speech), “Pope Francis points two finger at bishops and three fingers at himself when he says, ‘Bishops must not be vain careerists after power, honor’” http://pope-francis-con-christ.blogspot.ca/2014/11/pope-francis-points-two-finger-at.html

The Jesuit Master of Deceits Pope Francis is being praised by Vatican Pied Pipers worldwide for delivering his (hypocritical) scathing speech to his staff at the Vatican Curia – listing their 15 ailments – which are really ultimately about him as the first Jesuit Pope – especially the Vatican Mammon Beast’s sickness of “accumulating wealth and leading double lives which [is] existential schizophrenia.”

Mark Driscoll launches new website

Christian Today

Ruth Gledhill 28 December 2014

Mark Driscoll, former lead pastor of soon-to-be-defunct Mars Hill Church, has launched a new website, MarkDriscoll.org.

It contains Scripture reflections, writing and other blog posts going back to last summer and earlier.

In a Christmas welcome message on the site, an author described as markdriscoll.org writes of Driscoll in the third person. He says: "This website was built in response to requests from people wanting access to Pastor Mark Driscoll's past and future Bible teaching. This is the only official resource from Pastor Mark Driscoll, and will soon be the exclusive home for content from Pastor Mark and his family.

"Our prayer is that these resources will help non-Christians meet Jesus and help Christians become more like Jesus - because as Pastor Mark says, 'It's all about Jesus!'

December 27, 2014

Concerned Catholics of Guam will address latest church squabble


by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Concerned Catholics of Guam organization will be holding a press conference on Monday.

The group will be issuing a response to Archbishop Anthony Apuron's actions against Deacon Steve Martinez.

Martinez received a letter from the archbishop threatening censure until January 19th as well as accusing him of exciting hatred, inciting animosities against an ordinary and joining a group which is plotting against the church. In the letter Martinez was given the ultimatum to discontinue his involvement with the Concerned Catholics of Guam or face censure. The CCOG was formed to investigate all the recent controversies that have erupted within the local Catholic Church.

Charges against Assumption priest dismissed

Star Beacon

Posted: Saturday, December 27, 2014 12:00 am
By DAVE DELUCA / ddeluca@starbeacon.com

GENEVA — Charges against a priest accused of assault and disorderly conduct against have been dropped.

Western County Court Judge David A. Schroeder ruled the charges against Fr. Robert M. Lanterman, pastor of Assumption Church be dismissed on Monday.

Lanterman was charged with one count of misdemeanor assault and one count of misdemeanor disorderly conduct on Sept. 19. The complainant in the case said Lanterman pushed and grabbed her and subjected her to verbal abuse in church after mass that day.

At a pretrial hearing on Dec. 10, the city of Geneva moved to dismiss the case. City Solicitor Lauren Gardner stated on the record that the city could not prove the charges beyond a reasonable doubt, and therefore moved the court for dismissal.

The court allowed Valerie Ferrante, identified as the victim of the alleged assault, to address the court. She referred to the incident, stating she was “physically aggressed” by Lanterman, who she said was also verbally hostile toward her.

During her statement she also recited several sections of the rules of the Youngstown Diocese pertaining to child protection and standings of ministerial behavior. Lanterman’s attorney, William Bobulksy, objected and the court sustained the objection on the basis that church rules were irrelevant to this criminal proceeding.

Free police from secrecy clause to help paedophile inquiry, says MP

The Times

Francis Elliott Political Editor
December 23 2014

Theresa May should lift secrecy restrictions to encourage former police officers to provide information relating to allegations that paedophile rings operated in Westminster, a campaigning MP said yesterday.

John Mann said that more informants had come forward since he had handed a dossier naming 22 MPs and former MPs to detectives investigating allegations of historic child abuse.

Victims want top judge for abuse inquiry

The Times

Richard Ford Home Correspondent
December 24 2014

A group of survivors of child abuse are pressing for the most senior female judge in England and Wales to chair the inquiry into historic sexual abuse.

The Home Office is trawling through more than 100 names put forward to be Theresa May’s third choice to chair the investigation. The home secretary has promised to find a way of involving survivors in her choice.

Britain investigates alleged VIP pedophile ring from '70s and '80s

Los Angeles Times


The allegations about so-called VIP pedophiles involve prestigious London addresses, some of the highest-ranking members of Britain’s establishment and the suspected abuse of young boys in the 1970s and 1980s, including three who were slain.

Six members of Parliament have been implicated in the scandal, which threatens to expose a powerful political elite who may have raped and exploited juveniles for more than a decade and put their self-interests ahead of the protection of children.

John Mann, a member of Parliament, has presented Scotland Yard with a dossier that he said names 22 high-profile figures, including three serving in the House of Commons and three members of the House of Lords, who are believed to have been involved in a pedophile ring. There are no allegations that the six members of Parliament were involved in incidents in which children died.

The dossier includes the names of 14 Conservative politicians, five Labor politicians and three from other parties, Mann told reporters.

He also alleges that up to five pedophile rings were operational at the same time during the 1970s and 1980s, and that two whistle-blowers who knew about nefarious activities by members of Parliament met suspicious deaths.

John Mann Calls For 'Suspicious Deaths' Of Westminster Child Abuse Whistleblowers To Be Re-Investigated

Huffington Post

By Jack Sommers

A campaigning MP has called for the reinvestigation of the suspicious deaths more than 20 years ago of two whistleblowers who he believes had significant information relating to organised child abuse by a group with alleged links to Westminster.

Labour's John Mann made the comments after he handed Scotland Yard a dossier that includes allegations about the involvement of 22 politicians - some of them apparently still serving - in paedophile rings.

He told Sky News: "What I want to see is both those suspicious deaths reinvestigated because what links them together was both were people who in essence were blowing the whistle on child abuse."

One was council official Bulic Forsythe, whose body was found in a burning flat in 1993, and the other an unnamed Lambeth caretaker who died in a suspected arson attack a couple of years earlier.

The two men's deaths were "undoubtedly linked to child abuse and potentially linked into the wider scandal", Mr Mann added.

Government’s historic child abuse inquiry - effect on insurers


Clyde & Co LLP
Judith Martin and Mary Coyles

United Kingdom
December 22 2014

Amidst wider claims of failings within Westminster and the Criminal Justice system, the Home Secretary, Theresa May, states that the new wider panel inquiry into historic child abuse will examine churches, the BBC and political parties.

The government is now facing increasing pressure about the viability of the inquiry in its current form. There is pressure for the inquiry to be disbanded and replaced with a more powerful body. Inevitably if this occurs there will be further delays and it remains to be seen what format the inquiry will ultimately take. The inquiry has previously faced controversy having already come under pressure and scrutiny with criticisms about potential conflicts of interest and that it is not fit for purpose. Fiona Wolfe, Lord Mayor of London, resigned in October amidst concerns and issues with her past links to Lord Brittan followed by the resignation of Baroness Butler-Sloss in July, owing to her late brother’s role as Attorney General during one of the relevant periods. It is fair to say that whoever is finally appointed as the Chair of the inquiry will have a challenging task ahead.

Despite the current challenges and controversy the Home Secretary appears to remain steadfast in her commitment to the inquiry and has confirmed the government’s willingness to consider, if necessary, an upgrade to a full public inquiry. She has also suggested the possibility of granting the inquiry statutory status at some point in the future. The Home Secretary reiterates that the "confidence of survivors is paramount."

In the wake of the recent widespread, highly publicised and investigated activities of celebrities, MPs and priests it is likely that the government’s inquiry will be both long running and politically sensitive. The government has indicated that is unlikely that the inquiry will be completed before the next general election.

Fresh hope for Catholic school abuse victims as inquiry powers set to be extended

Liverpool Echo

Dec 27, 2014 By Helen Davies

A former Catholic school pupil who says he was sexually abused by a priest from Merseyside has fresh hope the truth will finally be exposed.

Home Secretary Theresa May revealed a troubled inquiry into child sexual abuse across the UK could be given extra powers, including the ability to force witnesses to give evidence.

The Sunday ECHO told earlier this year of how both a priest at the centre of a scandal at Mirfield junior seminary in Yorkshire and a former student there – one of those who made the allegations – came from Merseyside.

A group of 11 men settled out of court with the Verona Fathers, the Catholic order which ran the college, for payments totalling £120,000.

The order said the payouts are not an admission of liability but were made on a commercial basis following legal advice.

Gerry McLaughlin, who says he was abused by the late Father John Pinkman from Maghull, and a man from Liverpool who claims he was abused by another priest, have this week spoken of their optimism that tougher inquiry powers backed by Theresa May will mean former priests from the college could be made to appear before the Home Affairs Select Committee.

Former Courtice youth pastor sentenced to house arrest in child luring case

Durham Region

By Jacques Gallant

DURHAM — An Oshawa judge’s decision to sentence a man to house arrest for Internet child luring rather than jail because police publicly revealed his HIV status is the latest example of judges finding creative ways to manoeuvre around mandatory minimum sentences.

Former youth pastor Kris Gowdy was given two years less one day house arrest and three years probation last week by Ontario Court Justice Michael Block rather than the mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail. Mr. Block found Durham Regional Police violated Mr. Gowdy’s constitutional rights when they indicated in a news release shortly after his arrest in August 2012 that he was HIV-positive.

The story of the “HIV-positive ex-youth pastor” made headlines around the world, causing significant emotional trauma to Gowdy, Mr. Block wrote in his decision.

“Mr. Gowdy had a right to make his own choices concerning the disclosure of his HIV status,” he wrote. “No doubt he would have chosen his own method and different timing if he ever determined to inform those near to him. Absent evidence of serious risk of transmission and rigorous compliance with statute, no one had the authority to make that decision for him.”

Avoiding mandatory jail time due to Charter of Rights and Freedoms violations first received widespread attention last month, when the approach was used by Toronto Superior Court Justice Ian Nordheimer.

Archbishop of York’s Bold Suggestion- End To Confidentiality In Child Abuse Confessions

Legal Examiner

Posted by Mike Bryant
December 27, 2014

At times one of the defenses we will see in abuse cases is the confidentiality of penance, which is that things were said to other members of the clergy, but they are protected because they were as part of the sacrament of penance. There would be no duty of disclosure even under the strictest of first reporting laws. There would be no use of this information to show notice of the dangers that would have prevented future abuse. Not even a tip to those in present danger that they need to stay away.

The Huffington Post recently reported that Archbishop of York John Sentamu, Church of England’s No. 2 official ,

said that the Church of England must break the confidentiality of confession in cases where people disclosed the abuse of children. “If someone tells you a child has been abused, the confession doesn’t seem to me a cloak for hiding that business. How can you hear a confession about somebody abusing a child and the matter must be sealed up and you mustn’t talk about it?”

This is a intriguing suggestion and I can hear the immediate response that it would serve as a chilling of people confessing. It is an interesting comparison of the need to confess and find salvation vs. the confessed acts which involve the innocence of children. The statements followed an investigation into Anglican priest Robert Waddington as a serial sexual abuser of children in England and Australia for more than 50 years. Earlier this year, Anglicans in Australia backed a historic change that breaks the convention that the confidentiality of what a man or woman tells a priest during confession is inviolable.

Can Pope Francis Save the Vatican ? Probably Not !

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* Yes, probably not. Pope Francis is surely a remarkable person and is clearly giving it his best in his 79th year. Yet by now he must know what the ex-Pope’s quitting last year signified. Popes now cannot save BOTH the Catholic Church and the Vatican for the reasons discussed below. Francis appears to have chosen mainly to protect the Catholic hierarchy, a losing proposition, and likely has as a result set the stage for an accelerated division into various Church factions. The Catholic Church may survive as a “catch all label” for splintered groups, but its hierarchy is playing out its final act from many indications.

* This future outcome may seem too pessimistic for a purported “unchangeable 2,000 year old institution”. But is it? For reasons discussed below, it is more likely than not.

* The Catholic Church has changed and really changed a lot over two millennia, often due to external pressures. For example, in the 19th Century, Pope Pius IX and his Vatican allies were urged by many, including other rulers, to modernize and reform his declining medieval Papal States kingdom. The pope, in effect, imprudently refused to do so, and instead concentrated on being “declared infallible” by many intimidated bishops. He then quickly militarily lost to Italian troops (including many Catholic troops) a large portion of Italy that popes for centuries had ruled as unaccountable absolute monarchs. So too, a corrupt and imprudent Vatican refused to take Martin Luther’s call for needed reforms sufficiently seriously and lost a major part of the European Catholic Church mainly as a consequence. The Vatican can, does and will err, claims of infallibility notwithstanding!

* Pope Francis is quite old and yet is working non-stop. He appears, unfortunately, to be surrounded by some men who seem to be oblivious to the Vatican’s precarious position. Francis faces at least three major scandals involving priest child abuse, sexually repressive teachings and officials’ financial corruption, while his hierarchy debate arcane matters like “graduality” and most of the media focus on counting papal “tweets”.

* The scandal that has changed everything for the previously “untouchable” Vatican is the child abuse scandal. The pope clearly has not done nearly enough here. And his efforts to change the sexually repressive teachings are facing strong resistance from conservative Cardinals as discussed below. He is almost out of time. While the pope has made a start, in Rome at least, on curtailing his hierarchy’s financial corruption, he still has a long way to go. In New York, for example, even prominent conservative Catholics are complaining about Cardinal Timothy Dolan’s very expensive renovation of his NY mansion as discussed below.

* Pope Francis’ response to date on the most sensational scandal, the abuse cover up, seems to be mostly more of the same half measures used by his failed predecessors. Bishops are still not required under Church rules generally to report child abuse claims to the police, for example, and accused clerics are investigated secretively by other clerics mainly. The respected and informed Financial Times recently has even labeled the Vatican as “criminally slow” on curtailing child abuse and has also viewed the initial Synod on the Family as having been a “victory for conservatives” ! {My emphasis}

MI- Orthodox predator sentenced

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Saturday, December 27

Statement by Melanie Jula Sakoda of Moraga, California, Orthodox Director of SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (925-708-6175, melanie.sakoda@gmail.com )

A former Orthodox subdeacon was recently sentenced to prison on one count of “Child Sexually Abusive Commercial Activity.” We are very grateful that Robert Aaron Mitchell will be kept away from children, at least for a while, and applaud all who contributed to this result.

[Third Judicial Court of Michigan]

Mitchell had an earlier conviction for child abduction in Illinois. Despite this 1998 conviction, he was made a Subdeacon by Archbishop Nathaniel Popp on March 2, 2003. According to Popp, Mitchell was stripped of the title of subdeacon more than 10 years later, on November 20, 2013, after allegations of sexual misconduct were substantiated by the Office for Review of Sexual Misconduct Allegations of the Orthodox Church in America.


Dangerous predators like Mitchell can have many, many victims. We urge Orthodox officials to use all the resources at their disposal to reach out to those who may have been harmed by the former subdeacon. Anyone who either experienced, witnessed or suspected abuse by Mitchell should contact law enforcement, get help and begin healing.


Jungle Watch

Dear Most Reverend Archbishop Savio HON Tai-Fai, Your Excellency Archbishop Martin Krebs, and Reverend Father Nowak:

The people of Guam were made aware of your upcoming visit to our island (January 4- 10) by Archbishop Apuron’s news release of December 18, 2014.

While we are sure that you would have preferred a quieter context for your visit, now that your arrival is a matter of very public attention and in fact proudly (but falsely) trumpeted as a response to an invitation from Archbishop Apuron, please permit me to publicly share and document just a few of the matters at the heart of the ongoing and crippling division in the Archdiocese of Agana.

To assist you in your investigation (though Archbishop Apuron wants us to think you are just dropping by for coffee), I will attempt over the next few days to address and document as many of the following tragic items as possible. Most of these are already thoroughly documented throughout this blog but I will gather them together for easier reference.

Thank you for your attention to the war that rages in this archdiocese. We pray you will see what is at the root of it...or rather, WHO is at the root of it.

Here are a few of the items I intend to document for you:

1. The illegitimate removal of Fr. Paul Gofigan as pastor of Santa Barbara parish.
2. The defamation of Joseph Lastimoza and the subsequent persecution of his family for implying that he was guilty of a crime that he did not commit when labeling him a "danger to children".
3. The slander and calumny of Fr. Paul Gofigan and Joseph Lastimoza by Archbishop Apuron by his implying to a group of clergy that Fr. Paul and Mr. Lastimoza were engaged in a homosexual relationship.
4. The public rejection of a magisterial instruction issued by the Prefect for the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacrament as regards the manner in which the neocatechumenals distribute Holy Communion.

Vatican disinclined to invest in ‘poor’ states like Ireland, TK Whitaker told

Irish Times

Joe Humphreys

Sat, Dec 27, 2014

TK Whitaker explored the possibility of getting the Holy See to invest in Ireland in the mid-1960s but was informed the Vatican was “disinclined” to put money into poor countries.

A newly released file documenting the Department of Foreign Affairs’ dealings with the Vatican bank includes a confidential letter in 1965 from Mr Whitaker, then secretary of the Department of Finance, seeking information on whether the Holy See would “consider investments in Irish government securities or in property development here. If this were so, it would provide considerable relief for us at the present time when we are short of capital,” he wrote.

It was agreed the Irish ambassador to the Vatican, Tom Commins, would make “some very discreet soundings”.

In a memo labelled “highly confidential”, Mr Commins said he had spoken to a “highly placed” member of the Vatican court who was also the director of one of Italy’s biggest banks.

Informed by such sources, Mr Commins wrote: “Vatican policy on investment is prompted and inspired, not only primarily, but exclusively, by considerations of (a) profit and (b) security.”

The Holy See’s operations were almost exclusively carried out on the New York, Zurich and Geneva exchanges and were confined to “top ranking” bonds, he said.

The 10 most read articles of 2014 on irishtimes.com

Irish Times

Patrick Logue

Sat, Dec 27, 2014

The list of most-read stories of 2014 on irishtimes.com tells us a little about what our readers like to consume, but it tells us more about media, social media and their global nature.

The list includes a viral story about a singing priest, a breaking-news report on the death of a celebrity, a report about the winner of an art competition, and an article that cut to the heart of a serious social issue of national and international interest. ...

The second-most-read story of 2014 on irishtimes.com concerned what happened in at a mother-and-baby home in Tuam, Co Galway, where hundreds of children died between 1925 and 1961. The issue of how both lay people and clergy had treated Ireland’s most vulnerable citizens became the subject of a national debate and made headlines around the world.

Rosita Boland’s calm, analytical piece “Tuam mother and baby home: the trouble with the septic tank story”, in June, became central to that debate, and it was widely shared during the summer. The article also attracted more than 600 reader comments.

Papal tirade

Toledo Blade


Pope Francis is popular with millions of Catholics around the world who appreciate his humility, folksy style, and rejection of official splendor. He has fewer fans in the Vatican bureaucracy.

This week, he gathered the Curia — the cardinals, bishops, and priests who run the Vatican’s daily operations — and scolded the surprised and mortified throng.

Outlining 15 problems with the church’s top bureaucracy, Pope Francis accused the princes of the church of being more concerned with accumulating wealth and power than serving God and the ordinary people in the pews. Along with reform of the bureaucracy, he demanded spiritual reform. The stinging rebuke to the men who work directly under him was without historical precedent, some Vatican observers said.

Others speculated that Pope Francis’ fury was informed by the results of a secret investigation ordered by his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI, of backstabbing and infighting in the Vatican bureaucracy. After Pope Benedict’s butler leaked stolen documents that described the discord in 2012, the pope, now retired, wanted to understand the depths of the tension and corruption that surrounded him.

Year of Pope Francis: no wonder Iveagh House wanted to get back in on the action

irish Times

Paddy Agnew

When Ireland’s new Ambassador to the Holy See, Emma Madigan, was chatting to Pope Francis in the pontifical library the day she presented her diplomatic credentials last month, the pope at one point told her: “You know, before the conclave last year the bookmakers were quoting me at 25/1, and then look what happened.”

If Francis’s election in 2013 saw the triumph of a 25/1 shot, what price do we put on the rapid turnaround – even U-turnaround – in Irish-Vatican relations now as compared with three years ago? Those were the days when Taoiseach Enda Kenny, rightly in the opinion of many, accused the Holy See of being dominated by a culture of “dysfunction, disconnection, elitism and narcissism”.

Rather than listen to evidence of clerical sex abuse with “St Benedict’s ear of the heart”, the Holy See had preferred to “parse and analyse it with the gimlet eye of a canon lawyer”, he said in a celebrated speech to the Dáil in July 2011.

When Madigan met Pope Francis last month there was no mention of those strained relations. A veil has been drawn over that awkward moment. But that is not to say that, from 2015, Irish relations with the Vatican will return to their genuflecting past.

Rock star Pope's year of general awesomeness

New Zealand Herald

In 2013 Pope Francis had a lot to celebrate. Not only was he named Time magazine person of the year, but was also awarded the title of Esquire's best-dressed man.

But the leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics had a very eventful 2014 too. Here are nine of the most awesome things the first non-European pope in 1200 years did: ...

7) Personally asked for forgiveness for the 'evil' of sexually abusive priests
Pope Francis pleaded for forgiveness for the "evil" of priests who sexually abused children, and promised to take an even stronger stand than before against Catholic abuse scandals. Vatican Radio quoted him as saying: "I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests -- quite a few in number, [although] obviously not compared to the number of all priests -- to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children."

Man sentenced to house arrest for child luring after police reveal HIV status

Toronto Star

By: Jacques Gallant Staff Reporter, Published on Fri Dec 26 2014

An Oshawa judge’s decision to sentence a man to house arrest for Internet child luring rather than jail because police publicly revealed his HIV status is the latest example of judges finding creative ways to manoeuvre around mandatory minimum sentences.

Former youth pastor Kris Gowdy was given two years less one day house arrest and three years probation last week by Ontario Court Justice Michael Block rather than the mandatory minimum sentence of one year in jail. Block found Durham Regional Police violated Gowdy’s constitutional rights when they indicated in a news release shortly after his arrest in August 2012 that he was HIV-positive.

The story of the “HIV-positive ex-youth pastor” made headlines around the world, causing significant emotional trauma to Gowdy, Block wrote in his decision.

“Mr. Gowdy had a right to make his own choices concerning the disclosure of his HIV status,” he wrote. “No doubt he would have chosen his own method and different timing if he ever determined to inform those near to him. Absent evidence of serious risk of transmission and rigorous compliance with statute, no one had the authority to make that decision for him.”

Some Hopeful Bill Allowing Young Sex Abuse Victims To Secretly Record Abusers Will Pass


[with audio]


At least one lawmaker has followed through on an abuse survivor’s vow to make sure legislation was filed to allow young victims to use private recordings in sex abuse cases. It follows a recent Florida Supreme Court ruling that will now allow a man convicted of abusing his stepdaughter to get a new trial, after she taped an incriminating conversation without his consent.

The Case

The case revolves around a girl, who at 16, privately recorded a conversation between herself and her stepfather Richard McDade.

According to the court documents—while he didn’t use sexually explicit language, he “appeared to be asking her to have sex with him.” And, if she didn’t, he’d be “physically sick.” He also indicated that he was doing her a favor by not telling her mother, otherwise the victim would be taken back to Mexico.

And, reading from the brief, sex abuse survivor Lauren Book says there are so many other things wrong with this case, including the fact that McDade was an ice cream truck driver who had ready access to kids.

Magazine creates stir among Evangelical Christians

Bend Bulletin

By Mark Oppenheimer / New York Times News Service
Published Dec 27, 2014

In October, Mark Driscoll, the evangelical pastor and best-selling author, resigned from Mars Hill, his Seattle megachurch. Last month, Mars Hill announced that it was dissolving its network of 13 satellite churches.

In the aftermath of his fall, Driscoll, who was known for his autocratic management style, his quashing of dissent and his unusually frank talk about how Christian wives can please their husbands in bed, had himself to blame. In resigning, Driscoll admitted his failings, citing his “past pride, anger and a domineering spirit.”

But Driscoll cannot take all the credit for his own downfall. For one thing, any faithful Christian would give Satan his due for leading Driscoll astray. Then there is the role played by World, an evangelical Christian newsmagazine that broke one of the most damaging stories about Driscoll. In March, World reported that $210,000 in Mars Hill church funds had gone to a marketing firm that promised to get “Real Marriage,” a book written by Driscoll and his wife, on best-seller lists.

World was not the only outlet to take on Driscoll. Blogger Warren Throckmorton, in particular, persistently chronicled concerns about Mars Hill for the website Patheos. But the story about best-seller lists was also not the first scoop for World, and Driscoll was not the first conservative Christian leader that the magazine had taken on.

December 26, 2014

Dnevnik Says Pope Shows Determination in Pre-Christmas Speech


Ljubljana, 27 December (STA) - The pre-Christmas address by Pope Francis to cardinals and bishops in the Apostolic Palace shocked even the veterans, as instead of wishing them all the best for Christmas and saying a nice word or two, the Pope uttered one of the most critical speeches of his pontificate, the daily Dnevnik says in a commentary on Saturday.

Exposing Child Sex Abuse: Amy Smith and Kim Frank: A Profile of the Gospel in Action

The Wartburg Watch

"I am only one, but I am one. I cannot do everything, but I can do something. And that which I can do, by the grace of God, I will do." ~ Dwight L. Moody (Amy Smith's favorite quote)

Many of our readers have been abused at the hands of authoritarian religious leaders. Others have been sexually abused by pastors and youth leaders who were supposedly God's men. The evangelical church, until recently, has been able to cover up abusive behavior in church leadership by imposing some sort of made up spiritual crime. These include: do not speak ill of the church; don't gossip; leave it up to the elders, etc.

The supposed goal seems to be to protect churches from having their dirty laundry aired before the public. Whoever thought this was a good idea obviously missed the Gospel-the real one. He is the Living Word of the Gospel who came to earth as a baby and grew up to die on the Cross for the sins of mankind. Honest believers know that men and women who profess the faith are still capable of sin against others because they understand why Jesus came.

because they supposedly understand the Gospel, church leaders should be the first to declare that sin has occurred in their midst. They should be the first to go to the police and report child sex abuse. They should be the first to comfort those who have been deeply wounded by abuse perpetrated by church leaders because they get it. They know they sin. Jesus said so. Instead, they hide it "under a bushel," accuse outsiders of being sinners and hang sparkly lights around their congregation in an foolish attempt to hide the dark corners of sin and pain.

The lowly pew sitters are the object of public church discipline while church leaders are quietly moved aside or continue to embraced by others of the inner circle. Such stories include a seminary leader who divorced his wife and came out of the closet; a pastor who kept a paramour and, after a brief respite, is appointed to lead a ministry; pastors who never apologize to victims, and churches which hide behind lawyers over issues of sex abuse in their churches.

Supreme Court to hear appeal against Catholic Church for molestation case

Las Vegas Sun

By Cy Ryan
Friday, Dec. 26, 2014

CARSON CITY – The Nevada Supreme Court opens hearings in the new year with an appeal by the Catholic Church of a $500,000 judgment involving a priest who sexually molested a 13-year-old Las Vegas boy.

The jury verdict in Clark County in December 2012 is against the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay, Wisc. for failing to notify Nevada officials of the past history of abuses by now defrocked priest John Feeney.

The Supreme Court has denied previous pretrial motions by the church and allowed the case to go to trial.

Feeney faced numerous allegations in Green Bay and was placed on an indefinite leave of absence. He ended up in Las Vegas where he served at St. Francis de Sales Catholic Church. In the Nevada suit, he is accused of rubbing the genitals of the boy twice in 1984 and 1985. The suit was filed in 2008, 23 years after the incidents.

He was convicted of molesting two boys in Wisconsin in 2004 and sentenced to 15 years in prison. He was released after eight years. But the Green Bay Diocese paid a $700,000 civil judgment.

Piden la captura internacional del padre Alessandro De Rossi

Radio Salta

El juez de Garantías, Diego Rodríguez Pipino, libró una orden de captura y detención contra el sacerdote italiano Alessandro De Rossi, imputado por el delito de abuso sexual agravado mientras cumplía funciones en la vicaría "María Medianera de todas las gracias" en el barrio Islas Malvinas de la ciudad.

Fuentes extraoficiales sostienen que el cura se encuentra en Roma por lo que la orden de captura internacional se extendió a la Policía Federal, Gendarmería, Cancillería, Policia de Seguridad Aeroportuaria e INTERPOL.

La Vicaria comprende: Bº Islas Malvinas, Bº S.Silvestre, Bº S.Maria, Bº Parque Oeste, Bº S.Isidro, Bº Roberto Romero.

Conmoción por el pedido de captura de un sacerdote en Salta

La Gacesta

[The international arrest warrant against priest Alessandro De Rossi shocked those who knew him closely in the Falkland Islands where he was at the vicarage. All interviewed in the neighborhood were surprised he was charged with aggravated sexual abuse. One youth said he never noticed anything unusual.]

El pedido de captura internacional contra el sacerdote Alessandro De Rossi conmocionó a quienes lo conocieron de cerca, en el barrio Islas Malvinas, donde se encuentra la vicaría de la que él se hizo cargo. Jóvenes que asistieron con él a la iglesia, vecinas del barrio y comerciantes de la zona con los que pudo dialogar LA GACETA expresaron, todos, sorpresa y también descreimiento ante la acusación de abuso sexual agravado.

Uno de los jóvenes, que se encontraba en la puerta de la Juegoteca, instalada por el mismo padre antes de partir de Salta, un año atrás, manifestó que jamás notó nada raro. Expresó que a la Juegoteca asistían unos 10 adolescentes, otros 12 jóvenes y varios menores de edad. Destacó, además, que los adolescentes se hacían cargo de cuidar a las criaturas más chicas, de cuatro años.

Pope Francis takes on the Catholic bureaucracy

Financial Times

When Pope Francis moved out of the papal apartments into a priestly commune upon ascending to the throne of St Peter last year, he Fsaid it was not so much because they were a luxurious affront to his determination to make the Catholic Church once again an advocate for the poor. The papal suite was, he said, like an “inverted funnel”, keeping people whom he regards as the real church out of its aloof institutions.

That comment from the 78-year-old pontiff was an early sign of his determination to make the Church more open, inclusive and accountable. And that ambition was on full display again this week when he scolded members of the Vatican bureaucracy in a harshly worded Christmas greeting that listed “15 ills” weakening their mission — from narcissism to hypocrisy and even “spiritual Alzheimer’s”.

Pope Francis is giving his two-millennia-old institution the biggest shake-up since the Second Vatican Council convened by John XXIII in 1962-65. Vatican II tried to bring the Church into easier alignment with its modern flock, but its flames of reform flickered and died. Decades of papal intolerance ensued, with John Paul II and Benedict XVI enforcing narrow and defensive dogma. But Francis says the Church must now find a “new balance” or collapse “like a house of cards”. In particular, it cannot “insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage and the use of contraceptive measures”.

His attempt to shift debate away from sexual morality might be seen as tactically astute after the avalanche of evidence of priests sexually abusing children in their care — a scandal the Vatican was criminally slow to address. Yet untold millions of Catholics have drifted away from the Church not just because of that but because its obsession with personal morality is so at variance with the lives they live. One of Pope Francis’s first actions was to replace Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone, the secretary of state of the Holy See, who said the media was responsible for the impression that the Church was obsessed with sex. Pietro Parolin, his replacement, promptly observed that celibate priests are a clerical tradition, not a doctrine.


Jungle Watch

A signed and stamped pdf copy can be accessed here.

December 17, 2014

Dear Archbishop Apuron,

These are undoubtedly trying times for the Catholic Church here in our island. I am writing to you because I continue to be saddened by the problems facing our beloved Church in Guam. It is undeniable that our Archdiocese is clearly divided, and that many of our people are angry, distraught, and confused by all the discord within our Church and among our leaders. The people of the Archdiocese – and even the many in our island community who are not Catholic but who are nonetheless concerned for our island – are all looking to you to provide resolution, healing, and closure. Unfortunately, rather than bringing about resolution, healing, and closure, it is clear that information released by the Chancery has only served to further inflame the situation rather than quell it.

With that said, I pray that you take what I am about to say positively, for my sole intention is to offer my thoughts in an effort to foster understanding, reconciliation, and ultimately the restoration of peace and unity within our fractured Church. I understand that there are numerous issues that need to be addressed, but I wanted to specifically focus on the one area that I believe can be immediately improved: the area of finances.

On this subject, I believe I am more than qualified to speak, as it has been my profession for well over 35 years. As you know, for the last thirteen years, I have been entrusted as the Chief Financial Officer of Calvo Enterprises, the largest locally owned company in Guam. Prior to that, I worked in the public sector as Director of the Bureau of Budget Management and Research for the Government of Guam, serving as the Chief Financial Advisor for three governors of Guam. In all of my previous positions, I have enjoyed the complete trust of my employers, who knew that I would always give my best professional advice.

Cardinal, Please Spare This Church

Wall Street Journal

Dec. 26, 2014

The Archdiocese of New York is threatening to close down my little church, a jewel in Catholicism’s crown on 89th Street just off Madison, in Carnegie Hill, on the Upper East Side of Manhattan. This has caused great pain in our neighborhood this Christmas. St. Thomas More Church is where my son made his first holy communion, where he was confirmed. It is where at the presentation of the cross, on Good Friday, everyone in the parish who wants to—and that is everyone in the parish, poor people, crazy people, people just holding on, housekeepers, shopkeepers, billionaires—stands on line together, as equals, as brothers and sisters, to kiss the foot of the cross. It always makes me cry.

None of this is important except multiply it by 5,000, 10,000, a million people who’ve walked through our doors the past 75 years to marry, to bury, to worship.

There is context, of course, and context must always be respected. New York isn’t the only place that is or will be closing churches, so the story may have some national application.

The Catholic Church, the greatest refuge of the poor in the history of the world, is always in need of money. The New York Archdiocese itself supports schools, hospitals, charities, churches, orders. It is in constant need. There is the refurbishment of mighty St. Patrick’s Cathedral, which has been extremely expensive. There has been the cost, the past 20 years, of all the settlements and legal fees associated with the sex scandals. Compounding this is the constant bureaucratic challenge to manage resources efficiently, professionally.

The Church must save where it can. Churches have been closed. Most had particular stresses in common. Some lost parishioners due to demographic change and a peeling off of the faithful. Some cannot support themselves financially and become a drain on the archdiocese. Some churches have fallen behind in repair and have become structurally dangerous. Some lost their place in the heart and life of their communities.

But the great mystery at the heart of the threatened closing of St. Thomas is that none of these criteria apply to it. Not one.

A Catholic Brother in court on 252 child-sex charges re 35 alleged victims

Broken Rites

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 24 December 2014).

A former Catholic Brother charged with 252 child sexual assaults appeared in court in Sydney on 24 December 2014 after being extradited to Australia from New Zealand. Bernard Kevin McGrath (formerly a member of the St John of God Brothers) faced an extensive list of charges at Sydney's Parramatta Local Court – including raping, molesting and abusing 35 children while he worked as a Catholic Brother in New South Wales.

McGrath (born 22 May 1947) was refused bail and was remanded in custody until his next court date, which is 29 December 2014 for a brief administrative procedure. The main court process will begin in 2015.

The Australian government has been seeking McGrath’s extradition for three years for crimes he allegedly committed during his time as a Catholic Brother in New South Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

In August 2014, he was ordered to surrender to Australia by New Zealand's Justice Minister. McGrath then lost a New Zealand High Court appeal against the extradition.

'There really aren't that many spies in the Church'

Irish Independent

Sarah MacDonald

PUBLISHED 26/12/2014

Spies unhappy with the orthodoxy of Irish priests are responsible for fewer than five letters received by the Papal Nuncio every year.

Archbishop Charles Brown said claims that there was a cohort of spies frequently reporting clerics to the nunciature were "exaggerated".

"It is not the case that there is a huge cohort of spies out there ... that's a bit exaggerated, to put it charitably," the former Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith official stated.

"Every day at the nunciature I get letters of all types. From people who are upset because the candles have been moved on the altar, to letters written by people who are perhaps deeply psychologically disturbed - and we try to respond to them with compassion.

"I can say before God that people reporting priests to the nunciature are very few - maybe four or five a year. Maybe all of these spies are writing to Rome independently of the nunciature," Archbishop Brown suggested.

St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bangor welcomes new priest


BANGOR (WGME) -- The members of a Greek church are moving on, with a renewed faith, after the arrest of their former priest. Adam Metropoulos is awaiting trial on child porn and sex abuse charges. He was the priest at the St. George Greek Orthodox Church in Bangor. The church suspended Metropoulos and now has a new leader.

The new reverend and his parishioners say they're looking forward to a new chapter at the church. "The community is warm and nice so I feel very welcome and I feel very much at home. The house was like, oh, it's not the house I came to. People were gloomy and people were still looking at me like this is that other guy," Rev. Fr. Makarios Nganga, Interim Parish Priest, said.

The new priest says his wife and children are still in his native Kenya but he already feels like a part of the church community.

A year in the life of the Twin Cities archdiocese

Minnesota Public Radio

Madeleine Baran St. Paul, Minn. Dec 26, 2014

One of the biggest stories of 2014 was the MPR News investigation of the clergy sex abuse cover-up in the Twin Cities archdiocese.

A year ago this month, a Ramsey County judge forced Archbishop John Nienstedt to release the names of priests credibly accused of sexually abusing children. In the months that followed, the archdiocese faced new revelations about how deep the cover-up went and who was involved.

What's the current state of the scandal?

Much is still happening behind the scenes. Indications are that the archdiocese will file for bankruptcy, though it claims that it hasn't decided yet. If the archdiocese does file for bankruptcy, all of the church's finances would be under scrutiny by a federal judge. We don't know where that would lead or how much money victims would end up receiving.

Has the archdiocese put procedures in place to ensure reform?

Not as far as we can tell. Over the past year and a half, the archdiocese has announced a new task force and appointed various priests and lay people to advise the church on handling abuse complaints, but the structure of the chancery remains the same. The archbishop holds all the power, and does not have to follow anyone's recommendations. The structure that allowed this cover-up to happen is still in place.

It's also important to note some context. This isn't the first time this archdiocese has faced a clergy sex abuse cover-up. Each time, the scandal starts with an allegation that church leaders covered up abuse. Then the archdiocese apologizes, announces new policies, meets with victims and stresses the idea of healing and moving on. Bishops in the 1980s and '90s said the same things that church leaders say now.

December 25, 2014

Pope’s Priority For Christmas 2014 ? Children or Clerics

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* “May Jesus save the vast numbers of children who are victims of violence … ; children, so many abused children”, so prayed and preached Pope Francis in his well publicized 2014 Christmas greetings to the world. Seemingly on cue, Francis also lamented that many children are ” … never born because of abortion. …”.

* And let us hope and pray that Jesus does help save all the children. But what about Pope Francis doing more to save some children the pope failed to mention that he actually already has the power to save — like those children who still remain at risk of priest sexual abuse or who struggle to recover from the effects of such abuse worldwide, as well as those millions of children whose parents cannot afford to raise them adequately but had them anyway, thanks to Vatican lobbying against affordable access to contraception for these poor couples. Pope Francis will visit the Philippines in a few weeks and can see for himself the millions of struggling kids there on their own, often abandoned by their destitute parents who were, in effect, denied access to effective and affordable family planning.

* An experienced Vatican journalist recently confirmed, in effect, what numerous reports since the pope’s election about his extensive activities with respect to Vatican financial scandals already suggested clearly. Pope Francis may actually be putting a much higher priority on maximizing Vatican wealth than on protecting Catholic children from priest predators and complicit bishops who protect them. Is that what Jesus would have done?

* Generating unlimited children, of course, is geo-politically a “win win” situation for the Vatican. If the children survive, they then become potential donors and voters subject to Vatican indoctrination and influence. If the children struggle, the burden then is mainly on themselves, their parents and their governments. It is only on the Vatican with whatever papal funds remain, if any, after funding the hierarchy’s high lifestyles, political crusades, escalating legal expenses, etc.. Ultimately, children are optional costs for the Vatican.

* Importantly, Francis recently publicly ambushed his cornered Vatican staff. The hapless Vatican officials are an easy target for the pope since many of them lack career and financial options like many diocesan bishops have available to them. Yet, even so, the pope significantly omitted addressing directly and adequately with the assembled Vatican officials either the child abuse cover up or sexism, two major Vatican “ailments” that he urgently must address more effectively. Why these material omissions?

Spiritual Alzheimer’s

The Philippines Star

SKETCHES By Ana Marie Pamintuan (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 26, 2014

My favorite news head on that story about Pope Francis’ greeting to the Vatican Curia is from the Religion News Service: “Merry Christmas, you power-hungry hypocrites!”

RNS reported: The pope’s traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was more “Bah! Humbug!” than holiday cheer as he ticked off a laundry list of “ailments of the Curia” that he wants to cure.

Christmas surely wasn’t merry for a lot of people in the Vatican.

And some members of our local clergy must be having second thoughts about the wisdom of having Francis see for himself the state of the faith in Asia’s bastion of Roman Catholicism. Would Francis also recite a Pinoy version of the 15 Ailments of the Vatican Curia?

The pontiff looks like someone who personally does his homework and is attuned to world affairs. Consider his role in the historic rapprochement between the United States and Cuba. Would Francis say that “spiritual Alzheimer’s” can be catching and has infected certain Filipino bishops?

We can expect this pope, before he visits Manila and the Visayas, to read up on Philippine history, which is inextricably linked with the history of the Catholic Church in this country. Church interference in political affairs, as we all know, did not start in the House of Sin – a reference to the archbishop of Manila during the Marcos regime.

And Yet Finn Remains Bishop

Talk to Action

Frank Cocozzelli
Mon Dec 22, 2014

It has been more than two years since Bishop Robert Finn was convicted by a Missouri criminal court for failing to report child abuse by Fr. Shawn Ratigan. Finn had been warned about Ratigan's behavior but the prelate inexplicably waited six months before notifying authorities as required by law.

Within that same period of time, Ratigan pleaded guilty to possessing child pornography. He is now serving a 50-year sentence in prison. But Finn walks free.

Enter Pope Francis.

The new pontiff has been a breath of fresh air in many ways. But when it comes to removing Bishop Finn as head of the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph Missouri the air around the pontiff has gotten stale.

That's why many were encouraged when Cardinal Sean O'Malley was interviewed recently by the CBS News program 60 Minutes. O'Malley is not just any Cardinal. He is a close friend of and advisor to Pope Francis, who appointed him to lead the Vatican's new sexual abuse commission aimed at strengthening rules to protect children. When the conversation turned to Bishop Finn, Cardinal O'Malley did not mince his words:

Norah O'Donnell: I want to ask you about Robert Finn, who is the bishop of Kansas City/St. Joseph and, as you know, he pleaded guilty to a criminal misdemeanor for not reporting one of his priests to authorities. Bishop Finn wouldn't be able to teach Sunday school in Boston.
Cardinal Seán O'Malley: That's right.

Norah O'Donnell: How is that zero tolerance...

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well...

Norah O'Donnell: ...that he's still in place? What does it say to Catholics?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: Well, it's a question that the Holy See needs to address urgently.

Norah O'Donnell: And there's a recognition?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: There's a recognition of that.

Norah O'Donnell: From Pope Francis?

Cardinal Seán O'Malley: From Pope Francis.

But it was not to be. Or at least not yet. It has been more than a month since that interview when it sounded like Bishop Finn was on his way out the door.

Why is he still there?

The Pope, Beyoncé and Me

The New York Times

Frank Bruni

There was a Christmas Eve a little more than a decade ago when I did something that was, for me, rare, at least on a holiday typically spent in full-party mode, with booze, food, family and friends. I went to church.

No one had died. No one was getting married or baptized. This visit was entirely volitional — and, I told myself, ornamental, which was true to a point.

The church, you see, was St. Peter’s Basilica. I was The Times’s correspondent in Rome. And because I covered the Vatican, I had dibs on prime seats relatively close to the altar. Forgive the following mixture of profane and sacred, but you don’t have to be a Beyoncé devotee to say a quick yes to free tickets in the front rows. You go for the pageant and the privilege.

Pope John Paul II presided over the Mass, as best he could. He struggled to form coherent words, a man disintegrating before the world’s eyes, month by painful month. Many of us in the press corps who kept tabs on him and trailed him — to Guatemala, to Croatia, to Poland — were essentially on a deathwatch. ...

Now there’s Francis. And things are different. Not different enough, not by a long shot. The church remains wrong on women and wrong on gays, and I’ve noted repeatedly the shameful discrepancy between Francis’ kind words and the unkind firings of lesbian and gay employees by Catholic institutions in the United States.

But almost two years into his papacy, it’s impossible to deny the revolutionary freshness of his posture: humble, receptive, even casual. The pomp is gone and, with it, the air of thundering judgment. If the rules haven’t been rewritten, they seem less like bludgeons than in the past.

Francis doesn’t hold himself high, an autocrat with all the answers. He crouches to a level where questions can be asked, conversations broached, disagreements articulated.

He insists that other church leaders lower themselves as well, and used a traditional Christmas address on Monday not to chide the flock for its transgressions but to remind the shepherds of theirs.

Another Christian Brother (Bro. Obbens) is charged in New South Wales

Broken Rites

(Article posted on 22 December 2014.)

Christian Brother William John Obbens (also known as Brother "Dominic" Obbens) has appeared in court, charged with two counts of indecent assault of "a person under 16 under authority". Police allege that the offences were committed on one boy, then aged 13, in the late 1980s, while Brother Obbens was a teacher at St Patrick's Christian Brothers College in Goulburn, south-western New South Wales.

The case had its first mention in Goulburn Local Court on 22 December 2014 when the prosecutors officially filed the charges against Brother Obbens during a brief administrative procedure.

Brother Obbens, aged 69, now of Balmain in Sydney, sat behind his solicitor in court.

As often happens, the court adjourned the case for several weeks while the prosecutors and the defence are dealing with some court documentation. The prosecution must provide a brief of evidence to the defence by 28 January 2015, and the defence is to provide a reply by February 11.

Some St John of God Brothers abused the disabled

Broken Rites

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 20 December 2014)

One of Australia’s most prominent Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers (SJOG) – has had an entrenched culture of sexual abuse, according to court evidence. The St John of God religious order has specialised in accommodating boys who have an educational or, in many cases, an intellectual disability. This Broken Rites article is about court cases in the 1990s (and also in 2006) involving Brother Bernard Kevin McGrath, who was jailed for committing sexual crimes against disabled victims.

Bernard Kevin McGrath (born 22 May 1947) grew up in New Zealand. In the 1960s, aged 18, he joined the St John of God Brothers (SJOG), a Catholic religious order which was conducting residential institutions in Australia and New Zealand for boys who have an educational or intellectual disability. For his training, he went to Sydney where the SJOG order has its headquartes for Australia and New Zealand. Most of McGrath's working life has been spent at SJOG institutions in Australia and New Zealand.

McGrath gave details of his SJOG career in a six-hours videotaped interview with New Zealand detectives in 2003. In the videotape, which was shown in a New Zealand courtroom in 2006, McGrath tells how he was bullied by his authoritarian father who pressured him into joining a religious order at age 18. (McGrath’s father had trained for the Catholic priesthood but ended up as a manual worker.)

A Catholic Brother in court on Christmas eve on child-sex charges

Broken Rites

By a Broken Rites researcher (article updated 24 December 2014).

A former Catholic Brother charged with 252 child sexual assaults appeared in court in Sydney on 24 December 2014 after finally being extradited to Australia from New Zealand. Bernard Kevin McGrath (formerly a member of the St John of God Brothers) faced an extensive list of charges at Sydney's Parramatta Local Court – including raping, molesting and abusing 35 children – after being flown in from New Zealand in police custody.

He was refused bail.

The case will come up in court again on 29 November 2014 for a brief administrative procedure.

The Australian government has been seeking McGrath’s extradition for three years for crimes he allegedly committed during his time as a Catholic Brother in New South Wales in the 1970s and 1980s.

In August 2014, he was ordered to surrender to Australia by New Zealand's Justice Minister and then lost a New Zealand High Court appeal against the extradition.

Why Pope Francis rocked in 2014


[with video]

FROM his comments about “spiritual Alzheimer’s” to his appearance on the cover of Rolling Stone magazine, it’s been a big year for Pope Francis.

As the world prepares to celebrate Christmas, we look back on some of the most awesome things the ever-smiling Pope Francis did in 2014:

He blasted the Vatican bureaucracy

Proving he’s not afraid to take on the big guns in the lead-up, Pope Francis issued a blistering critique of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from “spiritual Alzheimer’s” that has made them forget they’re supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis’s Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalogue of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the new year.

He had some zingers: How the “terrorism of gossip” can “kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood.” How cliques can “enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body” and eventually kill it by “friendly fire.” About how some suffer from a “pathology of power” that makes them seek power at all costs, even if it means defaming or discrediting others publicly. ...

He promised to take a strong stance against abuse scandals

In April, Pope Francis asked for forgiveness for the “evil” damage to children caused by sexual abusers in the clergy. In his strongest statement on the subject yet, he described the abuse as a “moral damage carried out by men of the Church”, and said “sanctions” would be imposed.

The statement, made in a meeting with a child rights group, didn’t hold back.

Pope Francis pleaded for forgiveness for the “evil” of priests who sexually abused children, and promised to take an even stronger stand than before against Catholic abuse scandals.

“I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests — quite a few in number, (although) obviously not compared to the number of all priests —  to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children,” he said.

Nine amazing things Pope Francis did in 2014

Irish Independent

Nishad Sanzagiri

In 2013 Pope Francis had a lot to celebrate. Not only was he named Time magazine person of the year, but was also awarded the title of Esquire’s best dressed man.

But far from resting on his laurels, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics had a very eventful 2014 too. ...

Personally asked for forgiveness for the ‘evil’ of sexually abusive priests

Pope Francis pleaded for forgiveness for the “evil” of priests who sexually abused children, and promised to take an even stronger stand than before against Catholic abuse scandals.

Vatican Radio quoted him as saying: “I feel compelled to personally take on all the evil that some priests - quite a few in number, (although) obviously not compared to the number of all priests - to personally ask for forgiveness for the damage they have done for having sexually abused children.”

Author underplays reforming potential at heart of parish life

National Catholic Reporter

Paul Lakeland | Dec. 24, 2014

By Peter McDonough
Published by Oxford University Press, $29.95

The Catholic Labyrinth: Power, Apathy, and a Passion for Reform in the American Church is a most unusual and remarkably provocative book, both in its thesis and in the way it is constructed. There are surely very few texts on "the state of the American Catholic church" in which bishops figure very little, the pope even less. There cannot be many written by someone quietly signaling liberal sympathies while being less than enthusiastic about the chance of real change. And this has to be the only one in which Jesus Christ, the Gospel and the Eucharist are remarkable by their almost total absence from the weighty 300 pages of closely argued but elegant and attractive prose.

Author Peter McDonough argues that since the Catholic community as a whole is mildly conservative and fairly complacent, the chances of an end to a moderately authoritarian and insistently hierarchical church are slim. Moreover, the fact that most contemporary Catholics vote with their feet on most if not all of the ethical teaching of the church, both sexual and political, reduces still further any righteous indignation for change. ...

One of the more original aspects of the author's argument is that he marginalized the effectiveness of both conservative and reformist pressure groups in today's church. While many think of the church as an intensely polarized community, McDonough's message is that these strong feelings only influence a minority, while the majority of Catholics just go to church and then get on with their lives without paying much attention to either left or right or, for that matter, the voice of ecclesial authority itself.

Conservative Catholic groups, of course, are very well-funded (the Knights of Columbus, Opus Dei, First Things magazine) and have figured out that their struggle is a cultural one in which old-time religion and "family values" blend into a coherent if not particularly influential ideological position. Influential, of course, with a minority of Catholics and, perhaps, a majority of Catholic bishops, but not especially with the mainstream, and destined, thinks McDonough, to fail ultimately to convince a body of believers suspicious of culture warriors and an ethic of sexual repression.

Reform groups, on the other hand, are passionate about internal ecclesial issues but far less well-funded (FutureChurch, Voice of the Faithful, SNAP) and quite disinclined to connect their various platforms to a wider national political agenda. Their cherished causes may find some support among the rank and file of the church, but not enough to inspire real reform.

Pope Francis In 2014: Reformer, Diplomat, Media Star

International Business Times

By Zoe Mintz

It would not be an understatement to say Pope Francis has reached rock-star status. His image has graced the covers of Time Magazine, Rolling Stone and even The Advocate, a gay focused magazine. In March, Fortune called the pontiff one of the world’s 50 greatest leaders. Forbes says he is the fourth most powerful person on the globe. He was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. His approval ratings are sky high. He even helped broker a historic diplomatic deal between the U.S. and Cuba.

But has he lived up to the hype?

“He absolutely lives up to the hype,” Robert Christian, editor for Catholic blog Millennial Journal, told International Business Times in an email. “Francis’ message is not that he’s perfect -- it’s that this is who he is: a guy who cares deeply about the poor and vulnerable, who tries to live simply, who tries to build his life around his love of God and others. People can see with their own eyes this is true, and that’s why he is connecting with them.” ...

Clergy Sexual Abuse Crisis

The clergy sexual abuse crisis -- where thousands of priests have been accused of abusing children over a span of 60 years -- is arguably the largest problem the modern Catholic Church faces. It is also the area where Pope Francis has been lagging, according to David Clohessy, the national director of SNAP, or the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests -- a 12,000-member U.S.-based organization representing victims of clergy sexual abuse. He has wanted doctrinal change for just as long. But he is met with the challenge that most advocacy groups have: Dealing with a 2,000-year-old institution that moves at a very slow speed.

Between the ages of 12 to 16, Clohessy has memories of his childhood priest molesting him during overnight skiing, hiking and boating trips. He suppressed the memories for years, he said, until they flooded back in his mid-30s. He later discovered three of his siblings said they were abused as well.

One of those siblings -- his younger brother Kevin -- later became a priest. When Clohessy went public with his claims in 1992, one of the youth supervisors in his diocese came forward with a list of names of clergy who teenagers told her “made them feel uncomfortable” during overnight trips. One of those names was Kevin’s. He reportedly would get drunk with the boys and make sexual advances. An 18-year-old said Kevin fed him alcohol and carried him to bed.

In 1993, Kevin was removed from his post and entered a treatment program. Church officials said the allegations against him were “inappropriate and serious” but the sexual behavior was “not criminal, in that it did not involve anyone below the legal age of consent.” He was relocated to a different parish. To the best of Clohessy's knowledge, Kevin is currently working at a funeral home. He was not criminally prosecuted or defrocked.

“With each new pope there seems that there’s more talk, promises and apologies, but little-to-no decisive reform,” Clohessy said. There are roughly 6,400 priests who have been publicly accused of sexual abuse in the U.S. Clohessy suspects there are more who have been protected by their bishops.

It was only in the past six months or so when Pope Francis began speaking about the crisis. In May, he met with sex abuse victims and called the allegations an "ugly crime" akin to performing "a satanic Mass." In June, Polish Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski was defrocked after a Vatican tribunal found him guilty of sexually abusing minors. During a homily given in July, Francis called for “zero tolerance” of sex abuse by clergy and met with six more victims. In November, he created a panel of clergy and sex abuse victims that will advise the Vatican on child protection policies. They will meet for the first time at the Vatican on Feb. 6-8.

For Clohessy this isn’t enough.

“In so many other areas the pope’s word is all he has. In terms of peace, hunger, inequality -- the pope can’t do anything about those things except exhort. He has incredible power with the abuse crisis,” Clohessy said. Catholics, he added, should “judge him by his deeds and not his words in every area of his papacy.”

Court clears pastor of molestation charges

Bangalore Mirror

Falsely accused by his wife of indecent behaviour with girls, Shantaraju believes she was after his property

A city pastor who was accused by his wife of indecent behaviour with girls has been cleared by the court. The wife also accused him of being cruel to her and their children. The Additional Chief Metropolitan Magistrate court found that there was no truth in the charges made by the wife, and after more than three years, cleared him of any wrongdoing in its November 22 order. K Shantaraju runs the Children Development Centre in Bethel Church, Siddarthanagar, in Gangammanagudi police limits. The prosecution alleged that Shantaraju had behaved in an indecent manner with girls who were coming to him for tuition. His wife Priyalatha said when she questioned it, Shantaraju was cruel to her and their children, and even threatened their lives. The relatives of Shantaraju were also made accused in the case.

The wife had accused the pastor of sexual abuse of minors, but the CID police found that the allegation of sexual abuse had no truth and the dispute was mainly matrimonial. However, the allegation found mention in the judgment. The judgment said, "It is quite natural that the wife could have developed hatred against her husband and his relatives. This is all the more so when the first accused is suspected to have a relationship with another lady."

How Melbourne celebrated Jesus' birthday

The Age

December 25, 2014

Aisha Dow

Dressed in their Sunday best, families across Victoria flocked to church services on Christmas morning. But not everyone was content to celebrate Jesus' birth the traditional way.

In Sunshine North hundreds gathered at a huge concrete warehouse – Enjoy Church's western campus – where the "doof doof" of the band could be heard even in the car park. ...

Melbourne Catholic Archbishop Denis Hart said sometimes people wonder why bad things happen to good people. He also made a reference the ongoing Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

"During these days of the Royal Commission we pray especially for the innocent victims of sexual abuse in the church and acknowledge the courage of those victims who have come forward to speak of their abuse," he said.

Gift of reform

The Times-Tribune

Published: December 25, 2014

In addition to the traditional prayers and wishes for peace and goodwill, Pope Francis has presented the world’s 1.2 billion Catholics a distinctly unique Christmas gift — sweeping reforms of Vatican institutions.

Members of the Curia, the powerful cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Vatican bureaucracy, sat before the pope Monday like schoolchildren waiting to see the vice principal.

Pope Francis was unsparing in his assessment of their performance. He accused some of them of using their careers to accumulate power and wealth and, thus, of being hypocritical relative to the church’s fundamental mission — what he called, delightfully, “existential schizophrenia.”

That was just one of the “15 illnesses of the Curia” he defined in a Christmas season address that departed exponentially from its usual collegial tone.

Former church school dean denies new federal sex charge

Sun Sentinel

By Paula McMahon
Sun Sentinel

A former church and school official pleaded not guilty Wednesday to a federal charge of using a cell phone to lure a teenage boy into sexual activity with him.

Jeffery London, 51, who was a youth mentor at Bible Church of God in Fort Lauderdale and dean of students at Eagle Charter Academy in Lauderdale Lakes, was indicted in the federal case last week. The charge carries a punishment of 10 years to life in federal prison.

State prosecutors in Broward County dropped their remaining child sex abuse charges against Jeffery London, clearing the way for his federal prosecution on a related charge. London was photographed in Broward Circuit Court during the Dec. 8 hearing. (Rafael Olmeda, Sun Sentinel)
Earlier this year, a Broward Circuit Court jury found London not guilty of 27 state charges of lewd and lascivious conduct involving seven boys. London was not released from jail after the acquittal because he still faced additional abuse charges.

John Paul II’s Achilles Heels. George W. Bush’s Achilles Heels.

PopeCrimes& Vatican Evils.

Paris Arrow

A picture speaks a thousand words. Here are images of the 2 evil Achilles Heels of John Paul II and George W. Bush, two contemporaries in the 20th century who covered-up – through religion – their own worst crimes against children and youth of America and the whole world.

The 2 Evil Achilles Heels of Satanas Saint John Paul II are Cardinal Bernard Law and priest Marcial Maciel, the serial pedophile, pederast, adulterous priest and poster boy of the JP2 Army – John Paul II Pedophile Priests Army. Read the related links below for further explanations.

December 24, 2014

Pope Francis: Man in the middle spurs cause of change

The National (United Arab Emirates)

Jacopo Barigazzi

December 24, 2014

Iacopo Scaramuzzi is a Vatican analyst. He studied journalism at Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University and for years has been following the day by day activities of the Catholic Church for Italian media. Here he talks about Pope Francis.

What has changed? How is it possible that Pope Francis is bringing about so much change in a such a short time?

The three main contributors to the Holy See are the US, the German and the Italian [Catholic] churches.

What has changed is that the money management issue has been put on the table of the last conclave. The Americans and Germans pay large amounts of money but what they have been seeing are many scandals, clashes with the Italian central bank and all of these involving mainly Italian cardinals and bishops.

Now there are basically no Italians left in the positions that count?

Exactly. The big donors that now want to have more weight are the starting point of what has followed after Bergoglio’s [Pope Francis] election, the de-Italianisation of the Roman curia.

Now all the top positions are held by non-Italians. At the helm of Ior [the Vatican bank at the centre of many financial scandals from the beginning of the 1970s] now there is French banker Jean-Baptiste de Franssu.

George Pell, who heads the Vatican’s new secretariat for the economy, is an Australian Cardinal.

Pope celebrates Christmas Eve Mass after excoriating staff

Bloomberg Businessweek

VATICAN CITY (AP) — Pope Francis is celebrating Christmas Eve with a late-night Mass in St. Peter's Basilica just days after excoriating his staff for a laundry list of sins.

Many of the same cardinals, bishops and priests who received the dressing down will be in St. Peter's Basilica for the Mass. Several have spoken out in recent days saying Francis was merely asking them to examine their consciences and use the Christmas season to heal.

Wednesday's Mass kicks off a busy few weeks for the 78-year-old pontiff that includes his traditional Christmas day speech, New Year's Eve vespers and 2015 greetings a few hours later.

Editorial: Pope delivers a welcome season’s scolding

Daily Hampshire Gazette

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Now that’s what we call harkening to the reason for the season. In the second of his annual Christmas addresses, Pope Francis chastised a Vatican leadership in which he said too many prelates preach a Christ-like selflessness but practice a life of backstabbing, power grabs and political maneuvering.

“Brothers, let’s guard ourselves from the terrorism of gossip,” Francis told cardinals and bishops gathered at the Apostolic Palace, The New York Times reports. “The ailment of close circles enslaves their members and becomes a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body.”

Francis’ call to conscience provides the latest, and most dramatic, evidence that the first Latin American pope plans to devote his time at the Holy See to a gospel of inclusion rather than one that has too often excluded the weak, the scorned, the fallen-from-favor. What better message to deliver at this time of year when many celebrate a holy man who devoted his life to embracing the least among us?

In less than two years at the Holy See, Francis has made his home in humble quarters rather than the luxurious papal residence, reminded the church of its duty to the poor, called for acceptance of gay people and pushed for an end to the Cold War between the United States and Cuba.

Cardinal Sean O'Malley responds to Pope Francis' rebuke of church leaders: 'He has our support'

The Republican

By Shira Schoenberg | sschoenberg@repub.com
on December 24, 2014

BOSTON - Two days after Pope Francis delivered a harsh critique of the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, Cardinal Sean O'Malley said concern about the church administration is widespread and was discussed at the last conclave, when cardinals met to select the pope.

"Whoever was elected the pope knew that one of his biggest challenges was going to be the renewal of the central administration of the church, and Pope Francis is doing that with great energy, and he has our support," said O'Malley, who is the archbishop of Boston.

Pope Francis made waves with his annual Christmas greeting to the Curia, a group of cardinals, bishops and priests who make up the church administration. The pope accused the Curia of having 15 kinds of spiritual sickness. Among them: "Spiritual Alzheimer's," or forgetting one's connection with God, the sickness of gossip, of "rivalry and vainglory," of pursuing worldly power and of overly valuing belonging to a closed group. The Associated Press reported that the address was unprecedented in the sharpness of Pope Francis' rebuke. Some observers suggested that it was prompted by the results of a secret investigation into leaks of confidential Vatican papers to journalists in 2012.

O'Malley sits on an advisory board to the pope that is tasked with helping the pope reform the church administration, which has been plagued with problems including the church's response to priests accused of molesting children and allegations of corruption within the Vatican bank. O'Malley spoke to reporters in Boston on Christmas Eve before helping serve lunch to homeless people at the Pine Street Inn.

Pope Francis gives tough Christmas message: Editorial


Chicago Tribune
December 24, 2014

In holiday messages at this time of year, the boss usually musters the energy to say nice things to the people who work for him. Even if he’s exasperated by the performance of his employees or beset by arrogant bullies on the corporate rungs above him.

That’s the generosity of the Christmas spirit, right?

But what if the boss used this holiday interlude not to extol the good but to point out in withering detail his subordinates’ personal shortcomings?

And what if that message resonated well beyond the boss’ workplace, so that all of us could read his remarks and, gulp, see ourselves in the unflinching mirror that he held aloft?

You may have guessed that we’re talking about Pope Francis’ extraordinary Christmas message on Monday.

Instead of a traditional message of charity and hope, Francis excoriated the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Vatican. He accused them of knuckling under to 15 ailments and temptations, including greed, jealousy, hypocrisy, cowardice and, in a memorable phrase, “spiritual Alzheimer’s.”

UK bishops compare defenders of Catholic moral discipline to ancient rigorist heretics

LifeSite News

At almost the same moment that Cardinal Raymond Burke said in an interview that those defending Catholic moral teaching – and the practice of barring people in irregular sexual unions from receiving Communion – are being marginalized within the Church, the Catholic bishops of England and Wales have issued a document for clergy that all but accuses such Catholics of the ancient Donatist heresy.

In a “Reflection Document for Clergy,” the English bishops appear to follow the line of Cardinal Walter Kasper and his followers, saying, “It is not for us to make rash or premature conclusions” about people living in sexual sin.

“We meet people at many different stages of family life which are often not clearly defined in this way nor do they occur in the ‘traditional’ order in which we used to think,” they said.

The bishops go so far as to issue a thinly veiled accusation of heresy against those, like Cardinal Burke, the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, Cardinal George Pell and others, who have refused to follow the Kasper line. The document quotes St. Augustine of Hippo, the 4th century Doctor of the Church, who the bishops say “offers us a way of looking at the Church from his age which is still relevant today.”

Catholic cardinals try to soften Pope Francis’ harsh message

Washington Post

By Josephine Mckenna | Religion News Service December 24

VATICAN CITY — Cardinal Walter Kasper, one of Pope Francis’ closest advisers, has sought to downplay the pontiff’s scathing critique of the Curia earlier this week.

Kasper, who previously led the Vatican body responsible for promoting Christian unity, said the pope was asking the Curia, or Vatican administration, to examine their conscience in a bid to promote spiritual renewal.

The German cardinal, joined by Argentine Cardinal Leonardo Sandri, said Francis was asking the Curia to set an example.

“The fundamental thing is he wants spiritual reform of the Curia,” Kasper told the Italian daily Corriere della Sera on Wednesday (Dec. 24).

“Certainly also reform of the structures is important and he is working on that. But the basis of the problem is spiritual.”

The pope announced what he termed 15 illnesses affecting the Curia at his Christmas greetings on Monday, including “spiritual Alzheimer’s” and gossipy cliques.

The Vatican Bank, Christmas Cheer, And FATCA


Robert Goulder , Contributor

For centuries the inner workings of the Vatican Bank have been cloaked in secrecy. That was before Pope Francis, who has pledged to restore public confidence in the administration of the Roman Catholic Church. This week we learned the United States and the Holy See have brokered a FATCA agreement for the automatic exchange of taxpayer information. The long arm of the U.S. tax code is nothing short of astonishing.

I don’t recall issues like offshore banking and tax evasion being discussed at Sunday school during my youth, but then I wasn’t an attentive pupil. I suppose it’s possible that bilateral exchange of taxpayer information was mentioned at some point in the Beatitudes, but I’d need to double-check. Probably not, since the Sermon on the Mount predates the drafting of article 26 of the OECD model tax convention.

These days, tax treaties aren’t the only way for nations to exchange bank data. We live in the age of FATCA and its progeny — the OECD’s common reporting standard — which are spreading around the world faster than the good word. From Zurich to Bethlehem, from the Cayman Islands to Galilee, FATCA is everywhere. And as of this week, we learned how Francis views the issue. The pontiff is cool with tax transparency. Depending on how one feels about the issue, this news could be either sweeter than sugar plums, or worse than a lump of coal in your stocking.

On December 22 a Treasury Department Web page noted that the Holy See and the U.S. government have reached an agreement in substance regarding FATCA. That informal accord, concluded November 30, adheres to the FATCA Model 1 intergovernmental agreement. There are no details yet on when a formal signing ceremony will be held. In the meantime, the Treasury Department now includes the Holy See on its expanding list of FATCA-compliant jurisdictions.

Our guess: Bishops still hiding 1000s of US predator priests

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

Ever wonder how many more child molesting US clerics there are who have never been publicly exposed?

Consider this: On December 9, in one tiny diocese - Gallup, New Mexico - a court filing revealed in five names of “never before disclosed” credibly accused child molesting clerics.

[BishopAccountability.org - KOAT]

Then, on December 16, Gallup Bishop James Wall released names of 20 priests who it deemed "credibly accused" who had never been publicly accused before.

[Gallup diocese]

So to be crystal clear: In just one diocese, in just two weeks, 25 new names of predator priests have been disclosed.

And there are nearly 200 dioceses in the US. . .

MO--Settlement checks come for abuse victims in time for Xmas

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Wednesday, Dec. 24, 2014

For more information: David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP Director (314) 566-9790 cell, SNAPclohessy@aol.com

Checks arrive for abuse victims
Dozens settled with KC diocese
In rare move, they share nearly $10 million almost equally
And they include three whose cases were rejected by court
“It’s completely unprecedented,” says support group head

Dozens of Kansas City men and women who were sexually assaulted as children by priests have received their settlement checks, just in time for Christmas. And it what’s being called “an unprecedented act of generosity,” they are essentially sharing millions equally and including in the settlement three other victims whose cases were tossed out on legal technicalities.

“In my 25 years of work on the church’s abuse crisis, I’ve never seen anything like this,” said David Clohessy of St. Louis, SNAP’s director. “These incredibly kind victims agreed to divide their almost $10 million settlement basically equally and with three other survivors whose cases had already lost because their abuse happened away from church property so they had no legal standing whatsoever. We are so impressed by and so grateful to these incredible individuals.”

In November, almost 30 adults resolved their civil abuse and cover up lawsuits against the KC Missouri diocese and its convicted bishop, Robert Finn. They were represented by KC attorney Rebecca Randles ( 816 510 2704, rebecca@rmblawyers.com ).

"I'm proud of every single abuse victim I've represented, and I've represented more than 100 of them," she said. "But I've never been more proud of my clients than I am now. Rather than try to 'compete' among themselves for a larger amount, they're showing tremendous sensitivity and kindness to one another."

The settlement came near the end of a nearly three week trial in which Jon David Couzens said that Msgr. Thomas O’Brien repeatedly molested him and that local Catholic officials could and should have prevented the crimes. O’Brien has been accused of sexually assaulting more children than any Missouri cleric, according to SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.

“These wounded individuals are heroes for doing so much for so long to expose wrongdoing by Kansas City Catholic clerics. They have been courageous and compassionate and effective,” said Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, SNAP's outreach director. “This settlement won't magically heal them of the lifelong traumatic effects of the terrible assaults they endured as children. But we are confident that this settlement will help them in their recovery. And we’re thrilled the checks arrived before Christmas.”

“We hope this outcome will prod others who have been hurt by priests, nuns, deacons, seminarians and other Catholic employees to get help, come forward, expose wrongdoers and protect kids,” said Dorris.

Couzens was sexually violated by another KC priest - Fr. Isaac True. That case settled as well.

Because he endured what SNAP calls “a tough trial and cruel defense tactics by Finn’s lawyers,” the victims voted to give Couzens a somewhat larger share.


Jungle Watch

Father Efren Adversario

Dear Tim and Family,

Greetings to you and your family during this festive time of anticipating the Lord's coming in our midst. May He give you peace, and reward you generously for the brave endeavors you have undertaken in service of the Holy Mother Church. I would like to have this on jungle watch when you are able to have time. Thank you, once again.

Luke 4:18 ff. "The Spirit of the Lord has anointed me and sent me to bring glad tidings to the poor, to give liberty to captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to bring freedom to the oppressed, and to proclaim a year acceptable to the Lord."

These words uttered by Jesus Christ echo the words of the prophet Isaiah as he announced the beginning of his public ministry. These are words given to us as a mandate of our discipleship. Christmas is a feast that, although commercialized and often taken out of context, reminds us to heed the profound tome of incarnational salvation. Christmas is not about a vulnerable and helpless little infant or about nebulous little cherubs singing away "Gloria in Excelsis Deo," as the late Fr. Raymond Brown (with whom I had the honor to work on his library before his death) expounded in his book, the Adult Christ at Christmas," but a call to arms about the stewardship entrusted to us. ...

This Christmas I hereby affix my name to the cause of Concerned Catholics of Guam. I believe in their goal to build bridges and to foster transparency (in all levels of administrative decisions) in the Archdiocese of Agana. More importantly, I believe in the integrity of their leaders. Prior to their incorporation, I had the honor of individually engaging Mr Perez, Ms Lujan, Rev Martinez, and Mr Shinohara on different matters unrelated to the current church brouhaha. They are dyed-in-the-wool Chamorro laypeople (or clergy in the case of Deacon Steve) whose sole purpose is to facilitate healing that comes from seeking answers to issues that current leadership has chosen to arrogantly ignore. They have simply given face to the valid and just right of laypeople to know where their donations go, and to truthful answers to recent decisions. It is that simple! They are respectful (and respectable!) people who would themselves shirk from confrontation but have taken great interest in the inaugural words of Jesus as he started public ministry to bring healing to our church.

Why Francis kicked the Curia’s butt

Religion News Service - Spiritual Politics

Mark Silk
Follow @directorsilk | Dec 24, 2014

So far as I can tell, it’s unprecedented for a pope to chastise the Curia publicly. When Pope Francis administered those 15 Merry Christmas whacks heard round the world on Monday, he was doing something new under the Roman sun.

That’s not to say that popes have always been happy with the world’s oldest continuously functioning bureaucracy. Martin V, the Italian aristocrat whose election ended the Great Schism in 1417, reduced the cardinals to “quivering, stammering children in his presence,” writes Eamon Duffy in his History of the Popes. One hundred years later, when Leo X discovered cardinals plotting against him, he executed the ringleader and created 31 new ones in a single day.

“How many people work at the Vatican?” a journalist once asked Pope John XXIII. “About half of them,” he famously replied. Francis, who came into office with a mandate to get the Curia working properly, has by word and deed made clear that he means to do just that.

Pope Francis, Vatican Officials and Machiavelli’s Good Advice

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* May God help Pope Francis! He faces as the last absolute monarch, in an increasingly democratic world, unrelenting and escalating governmental pressures in Australia, the UK, the USA, Germany, China and many countries in between. Yet as his Christmas speech to his Vatican bureaucracy (the Curia) indicated, he is served by some men who are stuck in a Renaissance time warp.

* As Pope Francis tries to sail through a treacherous child abuse and financial scandal triggered tsunami, he might do well to put down the Catechism for a few days and reflect on one of the best informed analysts of Curia behavior, Machiavelli. Perhaps, Francis is already doing this. Ten short examples of Machiavelli’s relevant wisdom are set forth below.

* Before he begins his 80th year in less twelve months, Pope Francis can successfully seize the opportunity, follow his conscience and apply his unique status, forceful temperament and popular appeal. Most importantly, he can declare “infallibly” key changes. By then, he will have received new input from his two advisory Synods of Bishops. He has already been enlightened by his valuable two years of experience as pope.

* Pope Francis now also is unhampered by his prior pastoral positions and unfettered by his earlier ideological constraints as an obedient cardinal, bishop and Jesuit. If Francis fails to act effectively soon, the consequences will likely be quite negative for the leadership of the Catholic Church.

* Pope Francis acts at times like a radicalized realist. His preferred theologian, Cardinal Kasper, describes him as “radical”. Francis is clearly pressing forward relentlessly on a novel path to change. When necessary, he is even bypassing or sidelining fearful and entrenched opponents and factions. His opponents often overlook the many risks that presently exist in the Vatican’s vulnerable predicament. Pope Francis is evidently well aware of these risks. At times, some of his opponents prefer “to play their fruitless fiddles while Rome burns”.

* Pope Francis can accomplish much if he wants to and finds the wisdom and courage to do so. Equally important, it seems unlikely any of his successors will get a more propitious opportunity in the foreseeable future to adopt long overdue changes. It may be now or never for Pope Francis and the Vatican. Does he realize that? His scolding of the Curia suggests he does.

Did Rabbi Barry Freundel Treat Mikveh Like 'Car Wash' To Peep on Women?

The Jewish Daily Forward

By Josh Nathan-Kazis
Published December 24, 2014.

Two new lawsuits aim to hold Modern Orthodoxy’s largest rabbinic organization responsible in the Rabbi Barry Freundel mikvah-peeping scandal.

Both lawsuits allege that the Rabbinical Council of America and Freundel’s own synagogue were aware of inappropriate conduct by Freundel prior to the discovery that he was using a hidden camera to view women as they bathed nude in a Washington, D.C. ritual bath. The lawsuits, which seek class action status, charge that the RCA and Congregation Kesher Israel should have taken measures to remove him from his positions of responsibility based on his earlier behavior.

One of the suits underlines odd behavior by Freundel relating to the mikvah, noting that he allowed non-Jews to attend rituals there and that he invented the notion of “practice dunks.” That suit also quotes an unnamed Kesher Israel staff member saying that Freundel “treated the mikvah like a car wash. Every Sunday, six students at a time.”

That suit charges that Freundel used his role in the RCA’s controversial centralized conversion system to put himself in a position of power over potential converts — a position he allegedly used for sexual exploitation.

DA’s Ties To Satmar Leader Raising Eyebrows

The Jewish Week

Hella Winston
Jewish Week Correspondent

When the bribery and extortion charges against chasidic sex-abuse whistleblower Sam Kellner were finally dropped last March by incoming Brooklyn District Attorney Ken Thompson, advocates for abuse victims hailed the decision. At the same time, they urged Thompson to investigate and bring to justice those who allegedly framed Kellner, who was indicted in 2011 under the administration of the former DA, Charles Hynes.

It has now been almost 10 months since the Kellner case was dismissed and the district attorney has taken no action against those who were behind the trumped-up charges.

Now, advocates suggest, there may be at least a partial explanation: Leo Friedman, the son of one of the three witnesses who apparently gave false grand jury testimony against Kellner, Satmar power broker Moses Friedman, was a hefty contributor to Thompson’s campaign.

Moses Friedman, who is known in the Satmar community as Moshe Gabbai for his longtime role as the personal secretary of the previous Satmar rebbe, Moses Teitelbaum, is also a cousin by marriage of Baruch Lebovits, a convicted child molester whom Kellner helped to put in jail.

Churches Resisting Mergers Appeal to Higher Powers

Wall Street Journal

Dec. 23, 2014

For dozens of Roman Catholic parishes in the New York area, this Thursday will mark a last Christmas celebration.

The reorganization of 368 Catholic churches in the Archdiocese of New York is entering a new phase as archdiocese leaders begin implementing more than 50 mergers announced in early November and slated to take effect next August.

But some churches aren’t going down without a fight.

At least 18 parishes are now seeking recourse with the Vatican to overturn or limit the scope of the imminent merger, according to Sister Kate Kuenstler, a canon lawyer advising the churches.

Among the parishes at various stages of the appeals process are the Church of the Nativity in the East Village, and the Church of Our Lady of Peace and the Church of St. Elizabeth of Hungary, both on the Upper East Side. The Church of St. Elizabeth is the only one in New York offering regular services for deaf and hearing-impaired Catholics.

The Herx verdict exposed the Church's double standards


Margery Eagan
On Spirituality columnist

December 24, 2014

Congratulations to Emily Herx, the Indiana Catholic school teacher fired for using in vitro fertilization treatment to become pregnant. Last week she won a nearly $2 million lawsuit against the Fort Wayne-South Bend Roman Catholic archdiocese.

Most heartening: she won on the basis of sex discrimination, meaning the Church can’t always get away with treating women differently than men.

Herx was fired for running afoul of Church teachings on reproductive issues. But her lawsuit argued that the archdiocese had not fired any male teachers who’d run afoul of Church teachings as well by, for example, obtaining vasectomies or agreeing to their wives’ tubal ligations. A federal jury agreed with Herx fast, deliberating but a few hours in a single day.

Her suit also exposed the Church’s continuing double standard between the rank and file and its bishops. While the archdiocese in Herx case cracked down, again, over a matter involving sex and a teacher, the Vatican remains slow to crack down on matters involving sex and its bishops. Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City has become the new poster boy for this double standard. Two years post his criminal misdemeanor conviction for failing to report to police a suspected pedophile priest, Finn is still being investigated by Rome.

Herx, a woman suffering with infertility, notes in her suit that a priest labeled her a “grave, immoral sinner.” What, then, is Finn?

10 Ways You Helped Us Advance Transparency in the Catholic Church in 2014


Please donate today to BishopAccountability.org – your gift is tax-deductible and helps document and promote transparency.

1. Our website hosted 1.5 million unique visitors — a 15% jump from 2013!

2. Our website grew to an astounding 300,000 pages of documents, articles, and reports. We maintain the world’s largest archive of abuse documents outside the Holy See.

3. Our Database of Accused Priests grew by 178 names. It now provides information on more than 4,000 accused bishops, priests, nuns, and brothers.

Former Catholic brother faces 252 child sex assault charges

Daily Telegraph


A FORMER Catholic brother has been extradited from New Zealand after he was charged with 252 child sexual assault offences.

Bernard McGrath, 67, was extradited from New Zealand overnight and was taken to Mascot Police Station where he was charged.

He appeared briefly at Parramatta Local Court today.

He will spend Christmas behind bars and is expected to make a bail application during his next court appearance on January 29.

Strike Force Lozano, comprising detectives from Lake Macquarie Local Area Command, was formed to investigate allegations of multiple child sexual assault offences committed in the 1970s and 1980s at a school near Morisset.

Brother Bernard arrives in Sydney, extradited from NZ

ABC News

A former Hunter region Catholic Brother accused of a series of historical child sex offences has arrived in Sydney after being extradited from New Zealand.

Police began investigating Bernard Kevin McGrath in 2010 and have been caught up in a long running legal battle to get him back to Australia.

In August, the 66-year-old former Catholic Brother was ordered to surrender to Australia by New Zealand's Justice Minister.

He appealed to the High Court which last week ruled the extradition would not be unjust.

Former Catholic brother appears in court ...

Daily Mail (UK)

Former Catholic brother appears in court after being extradited back to Australia to face 252 child sexual assault charges


A former Catholic brother charged with 252 child sexual assaults has appeared in court after finally being extradited to Australia from New Zealand.

Former brother Bernard McGrath faced an extensive list of charges at Parramatta Local Court – including raping, molesting and abusing 35 children - after being flown in from New Zealand on Tuesday.

He appeared via video link and was refused bail.

Former Catholic brother refused bail

7 News

A former Catholic brother extradited from New Zealand to Australia to face hundreds of child sexual abuse charges has been refused bail in a Sydney court.

Bernard McGrath, 66, is in Australia after a legal bid to block his extradition failed in New Zealand's highest court earlier this month.

On Wednesday, his matter was mentioned at Parramatta Local Court.

McGrath, who is a New Zealand citizen, didn't apply for bail which was formally refused, the NSW Department of Justice confirmed.

He is facing a total 252 charges, including 102 counts of indecent assaults on males.

Which American archbishops—if any—will receive red hats at the February conclave?

Catholic Culture

By Phil Lawler | Dec 23, 2014

Sometime early in the new year, Pope Francis will reveal the names of the new cardinals who will be elevated at a consistory in February 2015. How many American prelates will be on the list?

Quite likely, none at all.

There are currently 18 US citizens in the College of Cardinals. The only country with a greater representation is Italy, with a staggering 48. By contrast, the entire continent of Africa can boast only 18 cardinals, and Asia only 19. If Pope Francis seeks a geographical balance in the College, he may not want to add to the American contingent.

Look at the numbers in a slightly different way: Today there are 111 cardinals who are under the age of 80 and therefore eligible to vote in a papal conclave; 11 of them are Americans. The US accounts for roughly 7% of the world’s Catholic population, but 10% of the cardinal-electors. On this score, too, there would seem to be no urgent need to increase the American representation.

Again there are some striking contrasts: Brazil, with nearly 12% of the world’s Catholics, would have only four votes in a papal conclave today. Mexico, with almost 9%, would have 2 votes; the Philippines, with a Catholic population nearly the same as that of the US, would also have just 2 votes.

Accuser drops sex abuse lawsuit against ex-Vancouver Olympics boss

Sun News


VANCOUVER - A B.C. woman has dropped her lawsuit alleging sexual abuse against former Vancouver Olympics organizing committee CEO John Furlong.

Lawyer Jason Gratl said Tuesday that Beverly Abraham, of Burns Lake, applied to have the suit dismissed, and the request was granted this past Friday in B.C. Supreme Court.

Furlong has always insisted he is innocent of all allegations.

Meanwhile, Gratl has also withdrawn from representing Grace West and Daniel Morice, both of whom also sued Furlong.

He couldn't provide reasons, however, because of professional confidentiality obligations.

Woman Drops Abuse Lawsuit against John Furlong

The Tyee

By Bob Mackin, Yesterday, TheTyee.ca

Allegations by one woman that John Furlong sexually, physically and mentally abused her 45 years ago will not be tested in court, but two others who similarly accused the ex-VANOC boss are still scheduled to face him in B.C. Supreme Court.

Beverly Mary Abraham withdrew her lawsuit Dec. 19, two weeks after her lawyer, Jason Gratl, filed notice to quit the case. Gratl is also no longer representing Grace Jessie West or a male victim who wishes not to be named.

In September, the parties set March 30, 2015 to begin an 18-day trial where the allegations would be heard either together or consecutively. Furlong previously claimed his innocence and agreed to pay the costs of the civil trial. November court filings indicate there was a dispute between Gratl and Furlong's lawyers over whether the trial would be by judge alone or with a jury.

Last June, the court ordered the RCMP's North District Regional General Investigations Section to release Abraham and West's investigation files to Gratl. Examination for discovery of Furlong was to be completed by Dec. 31, 2014.

1 of 3 sexual abuse lawsuits dropped against former Olympic boss John Furlong

Metro News

By Thandi Fletcher

A woman who claims former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong sexually abused her while he was a teacher in a northern B.C. school has withdrawn her lawsuit.

Beverly Mary Abraham said she decided to drop the civil case after months of careful consideration, saying the stress of the lawsuit was too difficult to bear following the deaths of several relatives this year.

“I was so stressed about everything,” she told Metro from her home in Burns Lake, B.C. “There was a lot of weight on my shoulders.”

Lawsuits against former Vancouver Olympic CEO Furlong in doubt

The Globe and Mail

VANCOUVER — The Globe and Mail

Published Tuesday, Dec. 23 2014

Three lawsuits that seek to portray former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong as a repeat sexual abuser appear to be unravelling in the Supreme Court of British Columbia.

One of the three suits has been dismissed. And the two remaining cases are now in doubt with the withdrawal of Jason Gratl, the Vancouver lawyer who was acting for all three accusers.

Beverly Mary Abraham, Grace Jessie West and a man who has asked not to be named, filed sexual abuse claims against Mr. Furlong last year, alleging he assaulted them while they were students of his at a Burns Lake elementary school in 1969-70.

The cases were scheduled to be tried jointly in March, but a motion to dismiss the two remaining cases is expected to be made by Mr. Furlong at a hearing in January.

Mr. Gratl declined comment Tuesday, but in an interview Ms. Abraham confirmed she asked the court to dismiss her claim last Friday, after Mr. Gratl told her he was no longer going to represent her.

“He told me that there was one of his clients that did something wrong and he was charged with it, so he had to walk away,” said Ms. Abraham. “He kind of dropped all three of us together all at once. He didn’t want to drop me but he said that with one, he cannot go to court.”

Civil Lawsuit Filed Against Freundel’s Former Employers

Baltimore Jewish Times

DECEMBER 23, 2014 - א טבת תשעה


While the criminal trial of Rabbi Barry Freundel, formerly of the Kesher Israel Congregation in Washington, D.C., on six counts of voyeurism has not yet begun, some women who allege they are Freundel’s victims have joined a class-action civil lawsuit against his former employers, seeking to be compensated for emotional injuries.

A team of attorneys from the Baltimore-based firm Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White LLC, led by attorney Steven Kelly, held a news conference at the National Press Club last week announcing the addition of the Rabbinical Council of America to the list of defendants in the civil action they filed earlier this month.
RCA now joins Kesher Israel, the National Capital Mikvah and Georgetown University as defendants in the suit, all of which are accused of negligently failing to oversee Freundel prior to his arrest in October, despite previous RCA inquiries into improper conduct between Freundel and conversion candidates.

Two plaintiffs who believe themselves to be victims of Freundel (the U.S. Attorney’s office has not publicly released the identities of the six victims listed in the criminal complaint) were also added to the case. They are Emma Shulevitz, 27, of Rockville, and Towson University student Stephanie Smith.

Mark Driscoll is back and wants your money

Seattle PI

By Joel Connelly

Mark Driscoll, the blue jeans-clad, controversy-plagued former lead pastor at Mars Hill Church, has resurfaced with a new website, just eight days before the Seattle based mega church he co-founded formally dissolves.

The website, its layout bearing striking resemblance to that of his former church, is offering “free exclusive resources directly from Pastor Mark Driscoll” for those who sign up. The initial offering is a Christmas-themed e-book, “The Boy Who is Lord: Jesus’Birth in Luke’s Gospel.”

The Driscoll site also asks for gifts, saying: ”Your tax-deductible donation allows us to continue hosting and distributing Pastor Mark’s Bible teachings and resources.”

The donations “apparently go to something called Learning for Living, described as ‘an application-pending registered 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. All donations are tax-deductible in full or in part,’” Warren Throckmorton reported on Patheos.

Woman drops sex abuse lawsuit against Furlong

Blackburn News

BURNS LAKE, B.C. - A woman who dropped a lawsuit alleging former Olympic CEO John Furlong sexually abused her while a teacher in Burns Lake, B.C., says she feels like a weight has been lifted off her shoulders.

Beverly Abraham's lawsuit against Furlong was dismissed in B.C. Supreme Court on Friday with no costs to either party, after she asked the court to allow her to withdraw the legal action.

Abraham said three of her family members have died recently, including her brother who was like a "twin" to her, and she couldn't handle the stress of the lawsuit on top of her grief.

"A lot was just really heavy on my shoulders. I was going through a lot of stress with this," she said in a phone interview Tuesday.

She says she decided that discontinuing her lawsuit was the best option for her to move on with her life after consulting with hereditary chiefs from her First Nation.

Fr Charles Fenech sends Christmas card to woman he allegedly abused

Malta Independent

[with photo of the card]

Rachel Attard
Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Dominican friar Charles Fenech has sent a Christmas card to a woman who was allegedly abused by him, The Malta Independent has learnt. The card depicting the scene of the Nativity contained a religious message inside. He signed it by hand and addressed it to her, and her family.

Yesterday week the court started hearing evidence in the case against Fr Fenech, 54, who is facing sexual abuse charges. So far, the alleged victim together with three other witnesses have given evidence behind closed doors. The woman who received the card was one of the witnesses who testified.

The sender’s address on the back of the is that of the Dominican Priory in Rabat. The card was sent in the last week of November as one can see from the Maltapost stamp. That date was before the court hearing. This was the week after The Malta Independent on Sunday published details from a sworn statement given by one of Fr Charles’ alleged victims to the police.

December 23, 2014

Youth pastor accused of child sex abuse


HILLSBORO, Ore. (KOIN 6) — A youth pastor is facing criminal charges over claims he sexually abused at least one minor in his church’s basement, the Hillsboro Police Department confirmed Tuesday.

Dylan Ritterman, 27, worked as a youth minister at Bethel United Pentecostal Church, where the alleged molestation is said to have occurred.

Police arrested Ritterman last week after the mother of an alleged victim came forward. The mother told investigators that Ritterman touched her son inappropriately in 2009 and 2010, Hillsboro Police Lt. Mike Rouches confirmed.

The boy, now 18, was 14 and 15 at the time of the purported abuse, Rouches said.

Hillsboro police believe Ritterman may have abused more children but have not released any information regarding additional claims.

Youth pastor arrested in Hillsboro on sexual abuse charges


By Laura Frazier | lfrazier@oregonian.com
on December 23, 2014

A 27-year-old man has been accused of sexually abusing two teenage boys during his time as a youth pastor at a Hillsboro church, police say.

Dylan Ritterman was arrested Dec. 18 on allegations he "unlawfully touched" two boys, said Lt. Mike Rouches, a spokesman with the Hillsboro Police Department. The boys were 14 or 15 at the time, he said.

Ritterman was a youth pastor at Bethel United Pentecostal Church, Rouches said. At least one incident is believed to have occurred in a room at the church and at least one other in a car after Ritterman drove a boy home, he said.

A call has been placed to the church for comment.

Arkansas youth pastor arrested for rape of 13-year-old


LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) – On Monday, a Hot Springs youth pastor was arrested for the rape of a 13-year-old girl.

The victim confirmed that Andrew Lee Jackson, 28, was her youth pastor at her church.

In a police report, the victim stated that she and Jackson engaged in sexual intercourse five different times at his residence that he shared with his wife.

She reportedly explained that she would often spend the night at his home in the living room on the couch with Jackson and his wife on separate sections of the couch.

Hot Springs youth pastor arrested in rape investigation

Arkansas Online

By Danielle Kloap

A Hot Springs youth pastor accused of rape has been arrested, according to the Garland County sheriff's department.

The Jefferson County sheriff's department arrested Andrew Lee Jackson, 28 of Hot Springs, in White Hall Monday night. He faces three counts of rape.

Police started the investigation involving Jackson and a 13-year-old girl Nov. 7, according to an arrest report.

Police said that the teen told investigators she and Jackson engaged in sexual intercourse three times at Jackson's home between August and October.

Pope Francis explains the “15 diseases” members of the Curia may face

Rome Reports

[with video]

Being a member of the Roman Curia is more dangerous than it looks. During his Christmas address to its members, Pope Francis asked this selected group cardinals to keep an eye on 15 diseases.

"A Curia that isn't self-critical, that doesn't want to update and doesn't want to improve, is like a sick body.”

He went on to explain that all the different temptations have the same root, to distance oneself from God. He also referred to what he called "careerism,” that is, the wish to receive more and more titles that only feed vanity.

"It is the sickness of those people who live a double life. People who want to multiply their power at all costs, even if they have to slander, defame and discredit the other, even in newspapers and magazines.”

The Pope read his address in a very peaceful and quiet way. Still, he also made very strong remarks when he talked about the danger of gossiping.

Spiritual Fruit Salad...

Questions from a Ewe

Just before I read reports of his Christmas address to the Vatican Curia, I was wondering if Pope Francis ever actually received the Christmas card and other letters I’ve sent him. He doesn’t write…; he doesn’t call…; he doesn’t visit… What’s a girl to think?

However, now I think it’s possible he has received my mail because his “15 Ailments of the Curia” echo many concerns I’ve expressed in my missives. If you’ve not read his list, I encourage you to do so.

As much as I appreciate Francis acknowledging and even chastising the hierarchy for its arrogance, hubris, insensitivity, hypocrisy, insecurity, self-absorption, fear and unhappiness resulting in over-bearing, domineering, control-freak, career-climbing, self-promoting, money-grubbing, gossiping, suck-up, fashionista hierarchy members who travel in cliques, his litany had a glaring omission: the ailment of “sexism.” I don’t know why he overlooked that ailment unless maybe it’s one that plagues him or one he does not acknowledge. Regardless, without addressing it, the other ailments will never be fully addressed.

I actually believe that tackling Pope Francis’ list of 15 without correcting the ailment of sexism likely will just make a sick turn of the crank grinding women down further within the church and society. I don’t know if that would be an intended or unintended consequence but humble, sensitive, secure, confident and happy sexists are still sexists. One might argue that such sexists are even more destructive ones because their charm wins people’s confidence enabling them to manipulate and abuse people more easily.

I think Francis would bristle at being labeled a sexist. I think he probably envisions himself a very pro-female kind of guy what with him appointing 5 whole women to his 30 person International Theological Commission. That mentality is fairly common amongst people of Francis’ and my parents’ generation. They are so indoctrinated into promoting a gender ideology of females’ limitations and duties, that they often see their sexism as just a factual manifestation of nature…”it’s just how things are…” And though some such folks believe themselves to be rather equality-minded, their face-palm worthy sexist statements and actions belie the gender ideology to which they are enslaved.

Woman withdraws sexual abuse lawsuit against former Vanoc CEO John Furlong

Vancouver Sun


One of the women who accused former Vancouver Olympic CEO John Furlong of sexual abuse has withdrawn her lawsuit.

A B.C. Supreme Court judge granted Beverly Mary Abraham’s request for dismissal on Friday.

Just over four months ago, Abraham lost her brother and shortly after her cousin and her 16-year-old nephew both died. Then, a month ago, her 91-year-old mother broke her leg and Abraham said she felt like she couldn’t deal with the stress of the lawsuit.

She said after speaking with her husband and hereditary chief, “it was time to let it go.” She said she stands by her allegations but she is too tired and stressed out to continue.

“A lot of weight came off my shoulders. I felt a hundred times lighter instead of dragging all these problems around,” she said Tuesday morning from her home in Burns Lake. “I just want to give it up to God. I told the truth. That’s all that matters. It hurts me deeply inside when I think of all the people that supported me saying ‘way to go Bev.’ It seems to me I let them down, but I had to take care of myself too.”


The Pilot

Monday, December 22, 2014

Vatican City (ZENIT) -- Pope Francis received in audience the Cardinals and Superiors of the Roman Curia Dec. 22 for the presentation of Christmas greetings.

After the greeting of the Dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the Pope gave the Roman Curia the address ZENIT translates below.

* * *
“Thou art above the Cherubim, Thou who hast changed the miserable

condition of the world when Thou made Thyself like us” (Saint Athanasius).

Dear Brothers,

At the end of Advent we meet for the traditional greetings. In a few days we will have the joy of celebrating the Lord’s birth; the event of God who makes himself man to save men; the manifestation of the love of God who does not limit himself to give us something or to send us some message or some messengers, but gives himself to us; the mystery of God that takes our human condition and our sins on himself to reveal his divine life to us, his immense grace and his gratuitous forgiveness. It is the meeting with God who is born in the poverty of the cave of Bethlehem to teach us the power of humility. In fact, Christmas is also the feast of light that was not received by the “Chosen People” but by the “poor and simple people,” who awaited the Lord’s salvation.

First of all, I would like to wish you all – collaborators, brothers and sisters, papal representatives scattered throughout the world – and all your dear ones, a Holy Christmas and a happy New Year. I want to thank you cordially for your daily commitment at the service of the Holy See, of the Catholic Church, of the particular Churches and of the Successor of Peter.

We being persons and not numbers or just denominations, I remember in a special way those that, during this year, finished their service having reached the age limit or having taken on other roles or because they were called to the House of the Father. To all of them also, and to their families, go my thoughts and gratitude.

Together with you I wish to elevate to the Lord a heartfelt and profound gratitude for the year we are leaving behind, for the events lived and for all the good that He willed generously to fulfil through the service of the Holy See, asking Him humbly for forgiveness for the faults committed “in thoughts, words, deeds and omissions.”

"Erlittenes Unrecht anerkannt" - Diözese bestätigt Missbrauch in den 70ern durch Leutkircher Pfarrer Fall längst geklärt - Opfer in gutem Einvernehmen mit der Diözese


[The Rottenburg-Stuttgart diocese has confirmed that a former Leutkircher pastor was accused of sexually abusing a child. However, no financial compensation has been paid to the victim.]

22.12.2014Die Diözese Rottenburg-Stuttgart hat einen Medienbericht über sexuelle Vergehen des früheren Leutkircher Pfarrers an einem Heimkind im Grundsatz bestätigt. Allerdings sei das Verfahren im Sommer bereits abgeschlossen und das erlittene Unrecht des Opfers auch finanziell anerkannt worden, stellte die Kommission Sexueller Missbrauch (KSM) der Diözese Rottenburg-Stuttgart am Montag fest. In dem Medienbericht wird allerdings fälschlicherweise der Eindruck erweckt, die Diözese erkenne nur noch bis Jahresende Opfer sexuellen Missbrauchs an.

Tatsächlich bezieht sich die Aussage offenbar auf den vom Staat initiierten Heimkinderfonds West. Dieser mit 120 Millionen von Bund, Ländern und Kirchen ausgestattete Fonds zahlte bislang nach einem Anerkennungsverfahren jedem in einem Heim missbrauchten Menschen bis zu 10.000 Euro an Sachleistungen.

10 Ways You Helped Us Advance Transparency in the Catholic Church in 2014


Please donate today to BishopAccountability.org – your gift is tax-deductible and helps document and promote transparency.

1. Our website hosted 1.5 million unique visitors — a 15% jump from 2013!

2. Our website grew to an astounding 300,000 pages of documents, articles, and reports. We maintain the world’s largest archive of abuse documents outside the Holy See.

3. Our Database of Accused Priests grew by 178 names. It now provides information on more than 4,000 accused bishops, priests, nuns, and brothers.

4. The Boston Globe’s recent front-page investigative report (at right) and editorial about past cover-up by Robert J. Geisinger, S.J., the Pope's new prosecutor of abuse cases, was made possible in part by research and documents we shared with the Globe.

5. We produced the first comprehensive analysis of how the pope handled abuse when he was an Argentine archbishop. In July, it was cited in the New York Times, Reuters, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, National Public Radio, and the Wall St. Journal.

6. To launch our global database initiative, we published the first database of accused priests in Argentina, the Pope's home country, in both English and Spanish. In the course of our research, we came to know Argentine victims, including four who unsuccessfully had sought the Pope's help. We introduced them to each other, and together they wrote a letter to Pope Francis, asking for a meeting.

7. We sent Homeland Security documents we had obtained about a Pennsylvania priest alleged to have sexually molested boys at a Honduras orphanage. Homeland Security investigated, and the priest, Father Joseph Maurizio (at right), was indicted.

8. We caused Pope Francis to remove a bishop (at right below). The Pope's unusual move came in response to the media uproar caused by our revelation in March that an abusive priest banned from the Scranton diocese had been made second in command of a diocese in Paraguay. Within six months, Pope Francis had removed not only the priest, but the bishop in Paraguay who had hired him.

9. Our authoritative data on church bankruptcies, settlements with victims, and numbers of accused priests were cited by the New York Times, the National Catholic Reporter, Associated Press, the Washington Post, and many other news outlets.

10. We answered individual queries from dozens of survivors. “You are the blessing I've been praying for since I finally had the nerve to start speaking up last year,” a survivor wrote to us in October.

Our 2015 Projects Will Include

Completing assignment histories for all 170 accused Jesuits in our database. For the first time, it will be possible to understand the full impact of abuse in the largest religious order. See a sample Jesuit assignment history.

Posting Philadelphia priest files. We will post thousands of pages of Philadelphia files in time for the September 2015 visit of Pope Francis. See the first of the Philadelphia files.

Posting list of accused priests in the Philippines. We will post the first public list of accused priests who have worked in the Philippines in time for Pope Francis’s visit there in January. See a document about one of the priests in the new database.

Concerned Guam Catholics look forward to meeting Vatican representatives

Marianas Variety

By Jasmine Stole - jasmine@mvguam.com - Variety News Staff

HAGÅTÑA — Concerned Catholics of Guam President Greg Perez said the recently formed organization is looking forward to meeting Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai, Rev. Tadeusz Nowak and Archbishop Martin Krebs when the three visit Guam in January.

Perez said he’s made a request to meet with the three officials between Jan. 4 through the Jan. 10.

“We sincerely believe this (visit) is in response to some of the complaints and concerns and questions that have been raised on island and have made its way to Rome,” Perez said. “We’re looking forward to meeting with them and they will come in and provide solutions.”

Archbishop Hon and Rev. Nowak will be here for the first time in an official capacity, according to Rev. Adrian Cristobal, spokesman for Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron. It will also be Archbishop Krebs’ second visit to Guam in six months.

Hon is the secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples and Krebs is the apostolic delegate to the Pacific Islands.

Pope Francis in the News: Media Memes and Informed Commentary (There's a Difference)


William D. Lindsey

Perhaps you haven't noticed, but Pope Francis has been in the news lately. A lot. Headlines yesterday about his scolding of the Vatican Curia ranged from "Francis Gives Roman Curia Officials Coal for Christmas" (Robert Mickens, National Catholic Reporter), to "In Curia: Merry Christmas, You Power-Hungry Hypocrites" (Josephine McKenna, Religion News Service), to "Pope Francis Says the Vatican Curia Is Sick with Power and Greed" (Philip Pullella, Reuters), to "Pope Francis Denounces the Vatican Elite's 'Spiritual Alzheimer's'" (Barbie Latza Nadeau, Daily Beast). I especially like Charles Pierce's wry summary of Francis's come-to-Jesus meeting with the Curia:

Spiritual Alzheimer's?
A mark, that will surely leave.
I'm sure that, within a few weeks, a Senior Vatican Official, or Ross Cardinal Douthat, will explain that the pope really was talking about birth control.
But, still, wow.

As I say, the pope's in the news. And here's more good commentary about Francis and his papacy I'd like to recommend to readers today, as you follow the media statements about his remarks to the Curia:

Jason Berry, "How Pope Francis Became the World's BFF":

Neither book [i.e., Austen Ivereigh, The Great Reformer and Elizabeth Piqué, Pope Francis: Life and Revolution] gives any coverage to Bergoglio’s handling of clergy sex abuse cases as a bishop and cardinal. The website BishopAccountability.org has posted an extensive file of media reports and documents on scandals in Argentina to suggest that Bergoglio was not a healing pastor to abuse victims. And while as pope he has removed several bishops for child abuse, several prominent cardinals in the Vatican who were grossly negligent in concealing pedophiles, notably the former Secretary of State Cardinal Angelo Sodano, have suffered no loss of status. Conversely, Francis has stiffened internal Vatican laws governing child abuse accusations; he has appointed an advisory committee that includes a prominent Irish abuse survivor to develop a policy. The central issue is de facto immunity traditionally given to bishops and cardinals.



By Charles P. Pierce on December 22, 2014

As always, the usual disclaimers are in place, but it seems that Papa Francesco took advantage of his annual Christmas message to give some members of the Clan Of The Red Beanie a good kick right in the chasubles.

The pope denounced the lust for power of ladder-climbing clerics, those who indulge in hypocritical double lives, and lamented a sense of "spiritual Alzheimer's" that leads clerics to forget the joy that is supposed to animate their lives. He also attacked what he called "existential schizophrenia" and the "terrorism of gossip." He was especially critical of cliques that "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body," eventually leading to death by "friendly fire." "These and other maladies and temptations," Francis said, "are a danger for every Christian and for any administrative organization, community, congregation, parish, ecclesial movement, etc., and can strike at both the individual and the corporate level."
Spiritual Alzheimer's?

A mark, that will surely leave.

I'm sure that, within a few weeks, a Senior Vatican Official, or Ross Cardinal Douthat, will explain that the pope really was talking about birth control.

Pope Francis Scolds Subordinates — Will He Now Restore Accountability?

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* Pope Francis surprisingly severely scolded and shamed the Vatican’s bureaucracy, gathered publicly this week for pre-Christmas festivities with the boss. Some of the officials, including Boston’s previously shamed Cardinal Bernard Law, appeared to be in shock, as seen in the PBS video here:

* [PBS]

* Every official was hit — the good, the bad and the ugly. A bit unfair, according to some conservative commentators, who were right on this. The officials may have been expecting good wishes for the season after a tough year. Instead they got a terrible scolding. All manner of immoral actions were cited, they were told, as prevalent in the corridors of Catholic Church power: ruthless careerism, back-biting, narcissism, complacency.

* Pope Francis, following Hans Kung’s medical metaphor, clinically diagnosed no less than 15 specific ailments suffered by Church officials, ranging from a diminishing awareness that the officials’ work had a sacred purpose—to delusions of omnipotence and the terrorism of gossip. Implicitly, Francis indicated he would act to change things soon, no? Will he? Can he? When? How? What was his point in publicly ambushing the entire Vatican bureaucracy? The shrewd ex-bouncer seems always to have a point, even if one has to tease it out at times, no?

* What’s next? Will Pope Francis fire some more officials? Will he act to fix the top down monarchical system that almost inevitably fosters these immoral actions? Francis has not yet “named names” and some of these ailments plague many of his worldwide bishops as well, from many indications.

* Was this just a planned media friendly papal rant of a frustrated ex-bouncer, or is it a prelude to a full housecleaning as openers? After all, criminally convicted Kansas City’s Bishop Finn still remains on his episcopal throne, just one example of Francis’ management omissions so far!

* Was Pope Francis just trying to let worldwide Catholics through him “vicariously vent” their built up hostility to their failed Church leaders? This chilling Christmas rebuke was surprising, especially since Francis has been dealing with the Vatican hierarchy for over four decades, and for over two decades as an episcopal insider. What did he expect to find when he volunteered to be pope at 76 years old?

Pope Issues Blistering Rebuke of Vatican Bureaucracy

Wall Street Journal - via BishopAccountability.org

By Deborah Ball and Tamara Audi
Wall Street Journal
December 23, 2014

Click image at right to view PDF of front page.

Pope Francis launched his harshest criticism to date of the Vatican bureaucracy, likening it to an “ailing body,” and setting the stage for what is expected to be sweeping reform next year.

In his Christmas address on Monday to cardinals and senior officials attached to the Curia, the church’s Rome-based administrative apparatus, Pope Francis warned against “spiritual Alzheimer’s disease,” careerism and gossip.

The harsh critique grabbed wide attention, with the Religion News Service offering a headline that said, “Pope Francis to Curia: Merry Christmas, you power-hungry hypocrites.”

Pope Francis has broken new ground during his papacy in a range of areas, suggesting a more open approach to homosexuals, advocating a stronger role for women in the church, rebalancing the College of Cardinals to increase the weight of the emerging world, and helping support the reopening of relations between Cuba and the U.S.

In a similar vein, the address to the Curia seemed to serve notice that he aggressively plans to take on the problems that have developed in the Vatican bureaucracy during the past decade from infighting among cardinals to embarrassing leaks. ...

Terence McKiernan, President of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks the sex-abuse scandal in the church, said the pope’s speech must be followed with real actions.

“This is a very capable man who is really making some remarkable changes. Rhetoric is part of the way you change things, but it needs to be accompanied by real and significant action,” he said.

“He’s opening up a dialogue that never existed before and I think that’s a very healthy thing,” said Raymond Flynn, former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican, and a Catholic. “Some people will get their nose out of joint, but in the final analysis I think this makes the church stronger.”

Nazareth House abuse survivor's remarkable memoir now on best-sellers list

Belfast Telegraph


For 17 years she was referred only as 'Number 51'.

But the little girl who grew up unloved and neglected in an orphanage - now under scrutiny in a major Government investigation - has had the last word.

Marie Therese Rogers-Moloney's heartrending story of the physical and emotional abuse she experienced at the Catholic Church-run Nazareth House and the search for her parents has resulted in success as a best-selling writer.

The Belfast woman's memoir - For The Sins Of My Mother - is currently in the top 10 in the best selling list in Eason's.

The book, which she started to write over 20 years ago, has sold more than 800 copies in just three weeks after being launched by publisher Colourpoint Books at Belfast Castle last month.

The retired nurse and administrative officer will be one of a number of adults cared for by The Sisters of Nazareth congregation at Nazareth House to give evidence at the Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry next year.

The memoir tells of how she was allocated the number in place of her birth name - which today includes the surnames of both parents - and how she was labelled as "educationally subnormal" by the nuns who looked after her when she retreated into silence in order to escape any mistreatment. Yesterday she told the Belfast Telegraph: "Not all the nuns were bad, but there were three nuns who were just plain cruel and there was no need for it.

The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (VI)


Grant Gallicho December 23, 2014

This is the sixth in a series of posts on the Urrutigoity case. Read the first part here, the second here, the third here, the fourth here, and the fifth here.

The day after Fr. Eric Ensey first sexually assaulted him, John Doe testified, he asked to sleep on the couch. The two were staying with Ensey’s parents in California so that John could visit Thomas Aquinas College. He was considering of attending TAC after graduating from St. Gregory’s Academy in Pennsylvania, where he had met Ensey. It was the fall of 1998. “I remember thinking that I would like to [sleep on the couch],” John would later testify as part of a federal lawsuit alleging that Ensey and Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity had molested him. Yet he was worried that asking to move from Ensey’s bedroom, where the two had spent the previous night, to the sofa “might give some sort of bad connotation.” John thought Ensey’s parents might wonder whether “something had happened, and that was the one thing that I did not want to admit.”

John was upset about what had happened while he stayed at Ensey’s parents. He would later allege that the priest had sexually assaulted him while he was passed out drunk on four occasions during that trip to California. But John “was trying to put it out of my mind.” At the same time, he found it hard to believe that Fr. Ensey “could do something wrong.” By trying to banish those memories, John was able to continue spending time with Ensey when they returned to St. Gregory’s Academy. After resuming his late-night meetings with Ensey, John faced more mockery from classmates. “They made fun of me for spending time with Fr. Ensey,” John recalled, even though it was “very widely known among the students that a good portion of the students drank with Society members.” On one occasion, John returned to his dorm room well after lights out. As he was about to slip into bed, he noticed that someone had spat mucus all over his pillow. “So I didn’t really feel accepted.”

Ensey provided solace. “He made it a point to discuss how friendship should be kept between one or two [people]…and how he was a true friend and no one else was.” By this point, Ensey seemed to be “the only one who understood me...the only one I bothered to invest time in,” John testified. So he continued to participate in Ensey’s brand of alcohol-assisted spiritual direction. On several occasions between the time they returned from California and the time John graduated, Ensey fondled him, according to John’s testimony. (Under oath, Ensey denied assaulting or groping John; efforts to reach him were unsuccessful.)

Yet John still hadn’t told anyone, and he continued spending time with Ensey. That did not mean he was comfortable with the situation. Rather, Ensey had continued to insist that because John was “raised American” he had “Puritanical instincts concerning male friendship,” according to John. Ensey repeated his view “that it was natural for men to sleep in the same bed…[and] to cuddle.” The “Puritanical” aspects of American culture were something Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity was known to complain about, according to other witnesses.

Woman drops lawsuit against Furlong


Liza Yuzda
December 23, 2014

One of the women who filed suit against Former Vanoc CEO John Furlong, accusing him of abuse, has withdrawn her lawsuit.

A judge granted Beverly Abraham’s request for dismissal Friday.

Furlong has maintained his innocence.

A year ago police confirmed they found no evidence of criminal wrongdoing by Furlong.

He’s already taken legal action against reporter Laura Robinson who he is accusing of mounting a ‘malicious’ campaign to destroy his reputation.

John Furlong accuser drops sex abuse lawsuit against former VANOC CEO

CBC News

By Jason Proctor, CBC News Posted: Dec 23, 2014

A woman who claimed she was abused by John Furlong while he was a teacher in Burns Lake, B.C., has dropped her lawsuit against the former head of the Vancouver Olympic Games.

Beverly Mary Abraham was the most outspoken of three people who filed claims in the wake of a Georgia Straight newspaper article alleging Furlong had mistreated students at Immaculata Roman Catholic School in the late 1960s.

"The reason for it is that it was kind of stressing me out," Abraham said from her home in Burns Lake. "I've been thinking about it for months."

Justice Miriam Gropper dismissed Abraham's claim last Friday after she made an application in B.C. Supreme Court. The case was dismissed by consent, without costs to either party. The other two claims continue, but the CBC has learned the lawyer representing both remaining claimants is withdrawing from the lawsuits.

Vehement denial

Furlong has vehemently denied the allegations in all three lawsuits and the newspaper story. He is suing the author of the article, Laura Robinson, but previously dropped a claim against the weekly paper that published the article in September 2012.

His counsel at Hunter Litigation Chambers issued this statement in relation to Abraham:

"Mr. Furlong has always maintained that Ms. Abraham's claim, as well as the claim of assault by the other two plaintiffs, are false. The dismissal follows the RCMP's conclusion following an investigation that, 'Based on the facts uncovered, the allegations made by Beverly Abraham are not supported.'"

Happy Christmas, you rogues

The Economist - Erasmus

POPE Francis is a bag of surprises. When members of the curia, the Vatican's Italian-dominated bureaucracy, gathered this week for a pre-Christmas meeting with the boss, they may have been expecting some emollient words of encouragement and good wishes for the season when their faith's beginnings are enjoyably celebrated. Instead they got a terrible scolding. All manner of pathologies were at work, they were told, in the corridors of ecclesiastical power: ruthless careerism, back-biting, narcissism, complacency. The pope diagnosed no less than 15 specific failings, ranging from "spiritual Alzheimer's"—presumably, a diminishing awareness that the curia's work had a sacred purpose—to delusions of omnipotence and the "terrorism of gossip". Indeed, some Vatican operatives were said to be guilty of "cold-bloodedly killing the reputation of their own colleagues and brothers".

Many people will immediately understand what the pope was talking about. In the weeks and months before the surprise resignation of his predecessor, Benedict XVI, nearly two years ago, the papacy seemed on the verge of paralysis because of the rumours of financial and sexual scandal that were swirling round the Vatican. Ever since then, the new pope has been working hard to get the curia under control. As the first pope from the global south, he has invited a team of non-Italian prelates to advise him on reforming the administration's labyrinthine structures. In recent days his Australian adviser on economic matters, Cardinal George Pell, reported that the financial situation was both better and worse than anybody imagined; he had found that "hundreds of millions of euros were tucked away in particular sectional accounts and did not appear on any balance-sheet."

Strangely enough, the papal scolding comes only days after a historic success for the one department of the Vatican that is widely admired. The historic breakthrough in relations between the United States and Cuba, announced last week, was in large measure orchestrated by the holy see's diplomatic service, and the Vatican was not shy about taking some credit for this. So was the pope being a tad unfair, or inconsistent, in celebrating a diplomatic triumph one day and excoriating his own bureaucrats a few days later? In fact, both initiatives (helping the breakthrough with Cuba, and the drive to clean up the curia) come from places deep inside the pope's complex personality, to judge from the biography which I reviewed in this week’s print edition.

Lajolo on the speech to the Curia: nothing like this has ever happened before

Vatican Insider

The cardinal claims: 'The Pope talks about himself as well. Gossip can kill'


'To be honest, nothing like this has ever happened before'. Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, the former Vatican governor and foreign minister, does not hide his surprise. 'It is the first time this has happened; never before had a Pope set us in the Curia a series of pathologies that we must examine ourselves on.' All along, says the cardinal who has been head of some of the most important offices of the Holy See for many years, 'the exchange of Christmas wishes has been a customary occasion, that follows a usual pattern'.

What did you expect from Pope Francis' speech?

'On this occasion, his predecessors would usually say nothing but the most relevant events of the past year. They summed up the principal events in the Church and in their apostolic activity. So you could have expected Francis to talk about his travels to the Holy See and Turkey, instead he said nothing about them. Maybe he will refer to these in his speech to the ambassadors to the Vatican.'

How did you welcome the Pope's warning?

'It is the request of an examination of conscience, of an end-of-the-year confession. For the first time a Pope asks the Curia to examine itself on a number of problematic issues. For instance, on the basis of my experiences of the Curia, I believe that a simplification of procedures would diminish scandals.'

R.Dominicana: no hay nada oficial de desestimación caso a exnuncio en Polonia


[The Dominican Attorney General said today that so far they have received no official report from Polish authorities on a dismissal of the case in that country against exnuncio Jozef Wesolowski, accused of sexual abuse in the Caribbean nation.]

La Procuraduría General dominicana dijo hoy que hasta el momento no hay ningún reporte oficial de las autoridades polacas sobre una desestimación en ese país del caso contra el exnuncio Jozef Wesolowski, acusado de abuso sexual de menores en la nación caribeña, tal como informó la prensa.

Agencia EFE | 22 de Diciembre de 2014

Santo Domingo, 22 dic (EFE).- La Procuraduría General dominicana dijo hoy que hasta el momento no hay ningún reporte oficial de las autoridades polacas sobre una desestimación en ese país del caso contra el exnuncio Jozef Wesolowski, acusado de abuso sexual de menores en la nación caribeña, tal como informó la prensa.

"Las informaciones provenientes de un diario polaco, no citan nombres de autoridades, solo "fuentes cercanas a la Fiscalía". No es oficial", indicó la Procuraduría a través de un mensaje en Twitter, en el que se refirió a las versiones de medios sobre una desestimación del caso en Polonia contra Wesolowski por supuesta falta de evidencias.

La Procuraduría explicó, además, que en este momento se llevan a cabo dos procesos por presuntos abusos por parte de sacerdotes polacos en República Dominicana con dos "jurisdicciones diferentes": en Polonia contra el religioso Wojciech Gil y en el Vaticano contra Wesolowski.

Poland Suspends Inquiry Into a Former Vatican Envoy

The New York Times

DEC. 22, 2014

WARSAW — Poland has suspended an investigation into the Polish-born former Vatican ambassador, Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, who has been accused of sexually abusing boys while serving in the Dominican Republic.

Przemyslaw Nowak, a spokesman for Warsaw’s regional prosecutor’s office, said Monday that the investigation had been suspended for purely formal reasons. The Dominican investigators have not responded to Poland’s requests for materials and evidence concerning the allegations against Mr. Wesolowski, who has been defrocked. The inquiry could begin again if the Dominican Republic shares — or officially declines to share — the requested documentation, Mr. Nowak said.

The Motto of Liberal Catholics: "Let's Get Those Green Beans Off the Buffet!"

Waiting for Godot to Leave

Kevin O'Brien

One of the readers of my latest post (It's Not the Abuse Crisis - It's the Neglect Crisis) somehow got it into his head that I was making the claim that only the liberals are to blame for the Sexual Abuse Crisis in the Church - which would be a pretty insane position for me to take. Perhaps he hasn't read my criticisms of all of the so-called "conservative" bishops who have enabled abuse, such as Finn, Carlson, Niendstedt, Livieres, etc.

In fact, as everyone knows (but this lone reader), the Abuse crisis cuts across the Big Divide. If liberals could point to hung-up conservatives as abuse enablers, they would, except that conservatives can point to loosey-goosey liberals as abuse enablers. The problem continues to be so wide-spread that every single type of bishop is guilty - and while some of the worst are from the right, some of the worst are also from the left.

But this shows how strange our thinking is.

Conservatives in the Church are a weird bunch, rebelling against the Church on Torture and Lying and Economic issues; but liberals in the Church are even stranger, for not only do the liberals rebel on any issue that has to do with our "naughty bits", the liberals go one step further and make the appallingly stupid mistake of thinking that Church teaching is up for grabs, and that it can be changed, despite 2,000 years of history to the contrary. Not only can it be changed, it will be changed! Just wait long enough and the bishops will endorse "gay marriage", contraception, abortion and pornography - all things most bishops even now wink at and ignore ... but someday these will be positive goods that the bishops will not only tolerate and enable - the bishops will proudly endorse every last one of them! What a strange fantasy to have.

There are days when I wish I was taller than 5' 10". But I don't demand that the yardstick be changed and that feet and inches be redefined to make me 6' 3". In other words, I can understand not liking the measure the Church proposes by which we are to measure ourselves in relation to Christ. I can understand ignoring that measure, discrediting it, making fun of it. What I can't understand is how changing that measure will somehow change us. My height will not change regardless of any tricks I play with the ruler. But liberals are in awe of their ability to alter reality by changing the standards by which we measure reality.

Archbishop Gives Deacon New Deadline to Cut Ties with Concerned Catholics Group

Pacific News Center

Written by Janela Carrera

Guam - Just a few days after Deacon Steve Martinez was practically fired as a Deacon of the Church, Archbishop Anthony Apuron has decided to reinstate him.

In a letter Deacon Steve Martinez wrote to his supporters, he announced that just a few days after he was censured by the Church as Deacon, he was reinstated. However, Deacon Martinez notes that he’s not out of the woods yet.

Instead, Archbishop Anthony Apuron gave him a new deadline of January 19 to cut ties with the Concerned Catholics of Guam, a new organization whose mission is to investigate the Archdiocese of Agana and to provide a forum for concerned Catholics who feel they have been mistreated by the Church.

Last week, after failing to meet a 24-hour deadline to leave the group, Deacon Martinez accepted Archbishop Apuron’s punishment.

Former Saskatoon youth pastor sentenced


A former Saskatoon youth pastor will spend two years under house arrest and 20 years on the national sex offender registry for a child luring conviction.

Kris Allan Gowdy, 44, was sentenced on Friday in Durham Region court in Oshawa, Ont. He was convicted following a trial earlier this year of luring a child over the Internet. A charge of attempted aggravated sexual assault was dropped in 2013.

Gowdy worked as a youth pastor at Saskatoon’s Lakeview Church between May 2011 and July 2012, before his arrest in Ontario, where he was living at the time.

After his arrest, a church official said Lakeview Church was not aware of any inappropriate behaviour involving Gowdy during his employment.

In August 2012, Gowdy was arrested in Ontario after making arrangements on social media to meet a 15-year-old boy for a sexual encounter. The boy was actually an undercover police officer.

Pope Francis Denounces the Vatican Elite’s 'Spiritual Alzheimer’s'

The Daily Beast

Barbie Latza Nadeau

VATICAN CITY—Pope Francis may be known for his generosity when it comes to the needy, giving out 400 sleeping bags to Rome’s homeless and opening the doors of previously shuttered convents to Syrian refugees; but on Monday he made it absolutely clear he won’t be showing the same kindness to the Curia, the clerics who run—or think they run—the worldwide Catholic Church from their comfortable positions in Rome.

In language that left these officials stunned and silent, Francis denounced those among them who "create a parallel world of their own, where they set aside everything they teach with severity to others and live a hidden, often dissolute life.”

The pope didn’t just deliver a lump of coal to the Curia this Christmas; he set it ablaze, outlining what he called 15 ailments that he says are ruining the Catholic Church, ranging from “spiritual Alzheimer's” to “existential schizophrenia” which the pope described as “the sickness of those who live a double life, fruit of the hypocrisy typical of the mediocre.” They are afflicted with “progressive spiritual emptiness,” he said, which no amount of academic honors and degrees can fill. ...

Francis’s comments were met with scorn, reportedly garnering scant applause or none and plenty of glances among the cardinals who expected the usual benight season’s greetings from the pope. Writing in the Boston Globe, Vatican expert John Allen calls the pope’s address “risky” because like a president lambasting congress, the pope does need his Curia to make the changes he so strongly desires: “To insiders, it threw a key question into sharp focus: Is Francis in danger of alienating the very people he will need, sooner or later, to actually get anything done?”

The Vatican’s English language spokesman Father Thomas Rosica said that the pope’s words were prophetic. “Now and then in our religious history, prophets arise to call us back to our origins, our roots and also our intended mission,” Rosica wrote in a note to the press. “That is what Pope Francis is doing. His words apply not only to the Roman Curia at the Vatican but to the entire Church throughout the world. His words are also valid for many institutions in the world today that lose sight of their original mission.”

Man charged with sexual contact with 16 year old


[with video]

Updated: Monday, December 22 2014

FONDA - A Northville man has been arrested, charged with sexual contact with a minor.

State Police say 50 year old David Dickey had sexual contact with a 16 year old earlier in the summer of 2014. Investigators say he was directing a play for a local Fulton County Church group when he became involved with the teen.

He was charged with Sexual Abuse and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. He was arraigned in Town of Mayfield Court and out on $1,000 bail.

Convicted former youth minister declared violent sexual predator and handed 12 to 24 year prison sentence

Fox 43


DAUPHIN COUNTY, PA (WPMT) Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis sentenced former youth minister and a former Dauphin County Domestic Relations Officer, Joshua Markelwitz, of Enola, to 12 years to 24 years in a state prison for charges stemming from his sexual molestation of a minor. Prior to sentencing Judge Lewis classified Markelwitz a Sexually Violent Predator under Pennsylvania’s Megan’s Law statute.

Markelwitz, 28, met his victim and her family through his church when she was about 11 years old.

Markelwitz was a youth leader at the church and her guitar teacher when he began molesting her. He molested the victim on numerous occasions over the period of approximately 3 years. The victim reported the abuse to the police when she was 15 years old.

During the course of the investigation another teenage victim, from Cumberland County, came forward indicating that Markelwitz also had a sexual relationship with her. Markelwitz met the Cumberland County victim when he was a volunteer with her high school band. Markelwitz began a sexual relationship with her after she turned 16 years old. Charges related to the Cumberland County case were consolidated into the Dauphin County prosecution. Markelwitz also admitted to charges related to the Cumberland County victim when he pleaded guilty before Dauphin County Judge Richard A. Lewis back on June 5, 2014.

NYSP: Man arrested for sexual abuse

News 10

MAYFIELD, N.Y. – The New York State Police arrested a Northville man for allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with an underage teenager.

David Dickey is accused of having sexual contact with a 16 year old earlier in the summer. He was directing a play for a local Fulton County church group when he became involved with the teenager, according to police.

The 50-year-old was charged with Sexual Abuse in the Third Degree and Endangering the Welfare of a Child. He was arraigned in the Town of Mayfield court and posted $1,000 bail. He will reappear in the Town of Northampton Court on January 8, 2015.

Church play's director charged with sex abuse

Albany Times Union

MAYFIELD — State Police on Monday arrested a Fulton County man for allegedly having inappropriate sexual contact with a 16-year-old while directing a play for a local church group.

David E. Dickey, 50, of Northville, was charged with sexual abuse and endangering the welfare of a child, both misdemeanors.

Dickey became involved with the teen while directing a play earlier this summer, police said.

He was arraigned on the misdemeanors in Mayfield Town Court and posted $1,000 bail. He is to reappear in Northamption Town Court in January.

Youth minister facing sex abuse charges


[with video]

By Ben Senger

(KPTV) -
Hillsboro police arrested a youth minister in the sexual abuse of two boys at the church where he worked.

Officers took Dylan Ritterman into custody on Thursday on more than a dozen counts of sex abuse charges.

Police told Fox 12 there are at least two victims who Ritterman allegedly abused in the basement of the Bethel United Pentecostal Church in downtown Hillsboro.

The allegations were reported to police by the mother of one of the victims, who is now 18. She told police that Ritterman touched her son inappropriately in 2009 and 2010, when the boy was 14 and 15 years old, respectively. Police said the suspect would also drive the victim home occasionally.

Texas youth minister indicted on child pornography charges

Yuma News Now

Dallas, Texas - A former north Texas youth minister was indicted by a federal grand jury last week on child pornography offenses, announced U.S. Attorney Sarah R. Saldaña of the Northern District of Texas.

U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement's (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) and the Garland Police Department investigated.

Derek Hutter, 37, was charged with one count of attempted production of child pornography and one count of receipt of child pornography. He was arrested on those charges and entered a not-guilty plea before U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul D. Stickney Dec. 18.

Hutter worked as a youth minister at the South Garland Baptist Church in Garland, Texas.

The indictment alleges that about Aug. 14, 2014, Hutter sent an email to Jane Doe #1, a minor girl, requesting she take sexually explicit photos of herself and text them to him. The indictment further alleges that about Sept. 14 Hutter received images of child pornography on his email account.

Pope Francis uses Christmas greeting to chide church officials for greed, gossip and getting ahead

PBS Newshour

GWEN IFILL: Pope Francis took church leaders and Catholics around the world by surprise today when he used an annual Christmas event in Rome to sharply rebuke and audience of top church officials for their shortcomings.

The cardinals, bishops and priests of the Curia, who run the Holy See, sat mostly silent and unsmiling as the pope delivered a scalding review of their behavior.

POPE FRANCIS, Leader of Catholic Church (through interpreter): Let’s start with the sickness of feeling immortal, immune or, even more, indispensable and therefore of neglecting the necessary routine checkups.

GWEN IFILL: Francis said the Vatican officials have a spiritual Alzheimer’s that makes them forget their real purpose, and he listed 15 illnesses, or sins, from vanity to gossip-mongering to materialism.

December 22, 2014

New bishop appointed to lead Vermont Catholics


[with video]

By Alex Apple

BURLINGTON, Vt. - Vermont Catholics have a new leader. Pope Francis appointed Christopher Coyne as the 10th Bishop of Burlington.

"Bishop Coyne arrives as our new bishop and spiritual leader with many rich and varied experiences of church lives," said Monsignor John McDermott, introducing Bishop Coyne Monday morning in Burlington.

The New England native comes to Vermont after four years serving in Indiana. "I come with no pre-established plans or any agenda other than to serve my brothers and sisters as a faithful disciple," Bishop Coyne said.

S'pore friars 'not affected' by money crisis at HQ

Lester HioThe Straits Times
Tuesday, Dec 23, 2014

The Franciscan friars in Singapore said yesterday that they were not affected by a financial scandal exposed by the worldwide head of their Catholic religious order.

Last week, Friar Michael Perry, leader of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), revealed that the organisation which has its headquarters in Rome is broke after "questionable financial activities" by some members.

The friars in Singapore declined to comment on the scandal, but assured donors that funds here are unaffected.

"There has been no impact, as we have never invested with them," said Father Clifford Augustine, parish priest of the Church of St Mary of the Angels, which the friars run in Bukit Batok East.

The local chapter of the OFM is registered as a company limited by guarantee, which means that every dollar is accounted for by local auditors, he explained.

Theresa May to make third effort to name head of abuse inquiry

Financial Times

Kiran Stacey, Political Correspondent

Theresa May will next month make a third attempt to propose a suitable person to run an inquiry into the alleged sexual abuse of children by politicians, six months after announcing the probe.

The home secretary is likely to choose a judge that would preside over hearings, government officials said on Monday. This means witnesses could be required to testify but also that the inquiry could take years to reach a conclusion.

Ms May is also poised to scrap a panel that was appointed to look into the sex abuse allegations and replace it with a new system to reflect the new statutory powers that the inquiry will be given.

“Theresa May has her heart in the right place but I’m not sure about other people. I can’t help thinking that there is something afoot when you have establishment figures chosen to chair it who are wholly inappropriate because they are connected to some of those involved,” said Simon Danczuk, Labour MP for Rochdale.

Clergy abuse survivor to bishops: You're ignoring the greatest threat to the family


By Robert Costello
Special to Crux December 22, 2014

In the weeks since Pope Francis convened a Synod of Bishops from around the world to discuss issues important to family life, there has been a lot of talk about whether the Church should be more welcoming to gays, allow divorced/civilly remarried Catholics to receive Communion, or make annulments easier to obtain.

In the coming year, bishops are supposed to talk to their congregants and each other about the Church’s stance on these and other issues, all related to keeping families strong and together.

Yet the most destructive thing to happen to Catholic families in the history of the RCC is being completely ignored: clergy sexual abuse of children. The Church’s treatment of children is a record of carnage.

I know! I was sexually abused by my parish priest. It not only ruined my life; it also destroyed my family.

The Rev. John M. Cotter started to abuse me when I was seven years old and in second grade at St. Theresa of Avila School in West Roxbury, Mass. The sex abuse lasted for six and a half years. He was everywhere a little boy could be. Being a member of the parish meant that I was an altar boy, involved with the Cub Scout – Boy Scout program, CYO (Catholic Youth Organization), and school. He even abused me in my own home when I was very sick on the living room sofa while my mother was in the kitchen preparing him lunch.

Pope Francis’ risky love/hate relationship with the Vatican


By John L. Allen Jr.
Associate editor December 22, 2014

ROME – Pope Francis delivered a blistering criticism of the headquarters over which he presides on Monday, ticking off a catalogue of “spiritual diseases” to which he believes Vatican officials are susceptible, such as careerism, arrogance, and gossip, calling it all the “pathology of power.”

His annual Christmas speech to the Roman Curia, the Vatican’s central administrative bureaucracy, played around the world as a scathing indictment. To insiders, it threw a key question into sharp focus: Is Francis in danger of alienating the very people he will need, sooner or later, to actually get anything done?

“I have to say, I didn’t feel great walking out of that room today,” one senior Vatican official said, who had been in the Vatican’s Sala Clementina for the speech and who spoke on the condition he not be identified.

“I understand that the pope wants us to live up to our ideals, but you wonder sometimes if he has anything positive to say about us at all,” the official said, who’s been in Vatican service for more than two decades.

For the record, this was an official who describes himself as an “enthusiast” over the direction being set by Pope Francis.

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "One of the Most Creative Things That’s Happened to the Catholic Church in America ...


William D. Lindsey

Droppings from the Catholic Birdcage: "One of the Most Creative Things That’s Happened to the Catholic Church in America Has Been This Vast Exodus of Catholics from the Church"

James Carroll in a recent interview with Michael Schulson:

One of the most creative things that’s happened to the Catholic Church in America has been this vast exodus of Catholics from the church. Everybody who leaves the church, whether it’s women who are impatient, fed up with the second-class status of women, or whether it’s people who are fed up with this clerical sex abuse scandal, whatever it is: everybody who leaves the Church is a challenge to the church to do a much fuller job of reckoning with the truth of this situation.

"A much fuller job of reckoning with the truth": since every Catholic who leaves (and/or is shoved away from the Catholic table) is an indictment of a catholic church's claim to be truly catholic, to be able to cope with the multivalent truths of many different kinds of human beings, to set a table big enough that we all can sit around it . . . . A church that exists to serve and include only the few, to endorse the truths of the lives of only the select chosen, cannot honestly call itself a catholic church.

Francis gives Roman Curia officials coal for Christmas

National Catholic Reporter

Robert Mickens | Dec. 22, 2014 A Roman Observer

It's now all but official. Pope Francis and certain members of the Roman Curia's old guard are openly at battle for the soul and future of the Catholic church. And their clash is over a sense of entitlement and privilege traditionally tied to a clericalist ethos and court mentality that has long held sway at the Vatican.

The Argentine pontiff pretty much confirmed that on Monday in his annual pre-Christmas meeting with the Curia's top officials during which he denounced a long list of bad attitudes and behavior he believes are ailing the church's central offices. (Read Joshua J. McElwee's excellent report on the 15 illnesses that, according to Francis, are threatening the Curia's spiritual and moral health.)

The 78-year-old pope delivered his screed to the cardinals and bishops -- that's exactly how many people inside and beyond the walls of the Vatican will read it -- just a little more than 24 hours after France's oldest national paper, Le Figaro, published a cover article in its Sunday magazine titled, "The Secret War Inside the Vatican: How Pope Francis is shaking up the Church."

The conservative paper's highly respected Vatican analyst, Jean-Marie Guénois, claimed in the article that the "climate inside [the Vatican] is not good." He wrote that "fear reigns" among many officials and employees who do not like how the pope is dismantling traditional protocols and who are nervously waiting to see how his eventual structural reforms will affect them. Guénois quoted one of these officials as saying, "His way of governing is disconcerting." ...

Even though the Jesuit pope did not name names, it's clear he believes some of these cardinals and bishops are inflicted with the "ailments" he listed -- an exaggerated sense of self-importance, lust for power and control, lack of empathy for others, opposition to the movements of the Holy Spirit, careerism, and the "very serious evil" of leading a double life, which he labeled "existential schizophrenia".

The officials, all wearing black cassocks with their red and violet skullcaps and sashes, sat stony-faced throughout the stinging address, which went on for slightly more than 30 minutes.

Uncharacteristically, the pope hardly looked up from his written text and made only a couple, very minor unscripted remarks. His delivery was slow and deliberate. The prelates politely, but unenthusiastically applauded at the end.

Pope Francis says Vatican administration is sick with power and greed

Sydney Morning Herald

December 23, 2014

Philip Pullella

Vatican City: The Vatican's top administrators would have been expecting an exchange of pleasantries at their annual Christmas meeting with Pope Francis on Monday.

Instead, Francis chose the occasion to issue a stinging critique, telling the priests, bishops and cardinals who run the Curia, the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, that careerism, scheming and greed had infected them with "spiritual Alzheimer's".

Francis, the first non-European pope in 1300 years, has refused many of the trappings of office and made plain his determination to bring the Church's hierarchy closer to its 1.2 billion members. To that end, he has set out to reform the Italian-dominated Curia, whose power struggles and leaks were widely held responsible for Benedict XVI's decision last year to become the first pope in six centuries to resign. ...

"This is the ideological and religious manifesto of a radical reform of the Curia," Carlo Marroni, a Vatican expert with the Italian daily Il Sole 24 Ore, said. "He doesn't describe the details of the reform that we will most likely see next year, but he indicated the principles according to which the Church has to change, at least in the pope's intentions."

In his Christmas speeches, Benedict XVI, now pope emeritus, had often issued programmatic statements for the year to come, and talked about controversial issues like same-sex marriage. However, he had not used such a stern tone.

Last year, in his first Christmas speech to the Curia as pope, Francis warned his prelates against drifting "downwards towards mediocrity," and urged them to be "conscientious objectors" to gossip.

In a meeting with the Vatican's employees soon after his speech to the Curia, Francis repeated his plea for forgiveness, asking the laypeople who work for the Vatican to pardon his shortcomings and those of his collaborators, as well as some scandals that have hurt the church.

Pope Francis delivers scathing criticism of Vatican administration, culture amid demand for reform


By The Associated Press

VATICAN CITY — To the Catholic Church's "seven deadly sins," Pope Francis has added the "15 ailments of the Curia."

Francis issued a blistering indictment of the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who serve him of using their Vatican careers to grab power and wealth, of living "hypocritical" double lives and forgetting that they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis turned the traditional, genteel exchange of Christmas greetings into a public dressing down of the Curia, the central administration of the Holy See, which governs the 1.2-billion strong Catholic Church. He made clear that his plans for a radical reform of the structures of church power must be accompanied by an even more radical spiritual reform of the men involved. ...

"This is a speech without historic precedent," church historian Alberto Melloni, a contributor to Italian daily Corriere della Sera, said in a telephone interview. "If the pope uses this tone, it's because he knows it's necessary."

Melloni noted that until Francis was elected, the Vatican bureaucracy largely answered to no one, saying "an entire generation of the Curia ran it as if they were pope." St. John Paul II was too busy traveling the world, and later too sick, to pay attention to administrative details, and Benedict left the minutiae of running a government to his deputy, later determined to have been part of the problem.

The Rev. Robert Wister, a church historian at Seton Hall University, said Francis was essentially asking the Curia to undergo an examination of conscience, asking them to reflect on how they had sinned before God before going to confession.

"Perhaps he believes that only a severe rebuke can help turn things around," he said.

The cardinals were not amused. Few smiled as Francis spoke, and at the end they offered only tepid applause to a speech that was so carefully prepared it had footnotes and Bibilical references. Francis greeted each one, but there was little Christmas cheer in the room.

'Spiritual Alzheimer's': Pope Francis' stern lecture to Roman Curia

Los Angeles Times


Pope Francis on Monday launched a stunning attack on the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Vatican, accusing them of succumbing to greed, jealousy, hypocrisy, cowardice and “spiritual Alzheimer's.”

In a pre-Christmas speech to the officials of the Roman Curia, Francis kept the season’s greeting to a minimum, choosing instead to ask prelates to make “a real examination of conscience.”

Francis then listed 15 “illnesses” he said they were prey to, including the “terrorism” of gossip, which he called a “cowardly” disease which could kill the reputation of a colleague “in cold blood.”

Top of the list was the fault of feeling “immortal, immune or even indispensable,” which Francis said could be remedied by a visit to a cemetery to see the graves of those who once felt immortal.

Francis also slammed prelates for showing off, accumulating wealth and leading double lives, which he said could lead to “existential schizophrenia.” ...

“I have never seen a Christmas speech like this; this felt more like Lent,” said Maria Antonietta Calabro, a Vatican specialist at Italy’s Corriere della Sera newspaper. “Francis was elected to clean up the Curia and he is returning to this theme and strongly reasserting his authority.” ...

Francis also attacked those who “discredit others, even in newspapers and magazines” to build their own power, even if they claim they are doing so “in the name of justice and transparency.”

Australian Cardinal George Pell, who was tasked by Francis with giving order to Vatican finances, recently wrote an article for a Roman Catholic publication claiming he had found millions of euros unaccounted for only to have Vatican officials deny funds were concealed.

“It looks like Francis is referring to Pell, which is ironic because Pell is his man,” said Calabro.

Pope Francis' Christmas Speech Was Not Full Of Christmas Cheer



Pope Francis delivered his annual Christmas message on Monday, and it ended up being a lot less festive than expected. Instead of spreading some Christmas cheer, the pope harshly criticized Vatican bureaucracy. All Francis wants for Christmas is for everyone to stop gossiping — is that so much to ask for?

While addressing senior Vatican officials, which includes bishops and cardinals who serve the Holy See, Francis laid out their laundry list of sins — 15, to be exact. Some of the sins these Vatican officials have committed are the lust for power, feelings of superiority, and the “terrorism of gossip.” What a way to end the year.

Francis began by suggesting that the Vatican has been “exposed to sickness,” causing it to become an “ailing body” that has weakened the Catholic Church. The first sickness, the pontiff said, was “considering oneself ‘immortal’, ‘immune’ or ‘indispensable’.”

Francis continued:

A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service.

Aging Pope Francis Shows That Church Needs Democracy Again

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

* Aging Pope Francis cannot clean up the Catholic Church “mess” and its rigged leadership transition process, unless he moves now to restore the Church’s consensual management structure with its democratic accountability. It is basic “Management 101″. Changing the obsolete top down monarchical management structure, and curtailing the resulting and continuing priest child abuse and financial scandals, among others, cannot be avoided any longer! It appears to be “now or never” for Pope Francis and the Vatican.

* The first Catholics consensually managed their leaders; Catholics can and must do so again, as discussed below. Otherwise, the Vatican Titanic will continue to sink.

* Unless Pope Francis acts promptly, while he yet is still able, to make the worldwide Catholic 0.01% leadership accountable again to the Catholic 99.9% laity, he will likely fail.

* Now in his 79th year, Pope Francis has once again raised unexpectedly his mortality, volunteering that he will not “be around” in connection with Rome’s Olympic bid. He had also a few months ago publicly broached with reporters the prospect of his own death in “two or three years”, while also not ruling out retirement before then.

* Pope will be nearing his 80th year, when his all “celibate male” Final Synod of Bishops gives him in less than ten months their recommendations for Church reforms. It appears to be now or never for this pope to make a real difference in Church reform that is not just a temporary fix that can be readily reversed by his soon to be secretly selected successor, perhaps Cardinal Sodano’s protege, Cardinal Parolin.

* Pope Francis now has the full power to change the procedures for selecting bishops, including the Bishop of Rome (i.e., the Pope himself). He needs to begin now to change these procedures promptly, just as he created his Council of Cardinals out of thin air, it appears. Canon law is whatever a pope says it is, in the final analysis.

Whistleblowers' deaths probe call

Belfast Telegraph

22 DECEMBER 2014

A campaigning MP has called for the reinvestigation of the suspicious deaths more than 20 years ago of two whistleblowers who he believes had significant information relating to organised child abuse.

And John Mann called on Home Secretary Theresa May to lift the restrictions of the Official Secrets Act in relation to historic abuse, which he believes are holding back former Special Branch police officers from coming forward with vital information relating to allegations of a child sex ring linked to powerful people in Westminster in the 1970s and 1980s.

Mr Mann's comments came as a second Labour MP warned that the Government looks as though it does not "want to get to the truth" about historic child abuse after Mrs May indicated that a troubled inquiry panel commissioned to look into the issue could be disbanded and replaced.

Simon Danczuk said victims would be dismayed at the lack of progress in the probe, and could not help worrying that the litany of mistakes - including the resignation of two chairmen following claims about their perceived closeness to establishment figures - was "deliberate".

How One Religious Organization Bankrolls America’s Social Conservative Movement

Think Progress


In 1882, a group of Catholic men gathered together by New Haven, CT pastor Father Michael J. McGivney incorporated an organization to provide for the families of its deceased members. More than 125 years later, the Knights of Columbus boasts of more than 1.8 million members and of “donating more than $167.5 million to charitable needs and projects” in 2012. Among its members: presidential 2016 hopeful Jeb Bush (R), Speaker of the House John Boehner (R), and Justice Samuel Alito.

But while much of the Knights’ charitable efforts in recent years have supported purely altruistic causes such as the Special Olympics and Habitat for Humanity, millions of their charitable dollars have funded a very socially conservative ideological agenda: opposing abortion, LGBT rights, euthanasia, embryonic stem cell research, and pornography, while supporting public funding for religious organizations.

While legally independent from the Catholic Church, the Knights of Columbus entities call themselves the church’s “strong right arm.” The main national organization, a tax-exempt 501(c)(8) “Fraternal Benefit Society,” provides insurance-type benefits to its membership, much like a life insurance company. In 2012, the organization’s revenue and expenses exceeded $2 billion. While only Catholic men above the age of 18 are allowed to join, Catholic women are permitted to join a much smaller affiliated auxiliary organization called the Columbiettes.

The Knights also operate a legally-separate but affiliated charitable arm called the Knights of Columbus Charities Inc. That tax-exempt non-profit organization made about 57 percent of its annual grants in 2013 to efforts to “promote matters affective life family, marriage and similar priorities in building a culture of life.” More than $1 million of that went to support “Crisis Pregnancy Centers,” a network of facilities that dissuade women from choosing to terminate their pregnancies, often by sharing misinformation.

The Treacherous Intersection of Faith and Child Abuse

Huffington Post

Burke E. Strunsky

Faith is a deeply personal experience, and I don't say this as a politically correct sound bite. I truly believe that I'm lucky to live in a country that values the right of its citizens to freely practice religion if they so choose. However, as a criminal prosecutor, I am repeatedly faced with situations in which people forsake reason for faith or forsake faith for reason. It's a false dilemma--a needless collision of choices. Too many make the tragic mistake of relying solely on their faith in cases of crimes, particularly child sexual abuse. Some religious groups might see these events as strictly a crisis of the soul when, in fact, concealing these atrocities only contributes to even deeper spiritual crises for the victims and their families. That's why I make this plea to families of all faiths: Please do not rely exclusively on the guidance of your religious institutions to deal with the crime of child molestation. If people truly believe in God or a higher power, then they should open their minds and hearts to the possibility that, in addition to their capacity to believe, they also possess the ability to reason for a reason.

It's impossible to pinpoint the first primordial whispers of faith or even the birth of religion--itself a communal kind of faith. Since the earliest man tilted his head to the cosmos and wondered, "Where does it all come from?" humanity has been searching for the meaning of life. Regardless of one's personal beliefs, faith and religion appear to be distinctly human phenomena, pointing us in the same direction toward the same intangible reality of a higher purpose or an unexplainable force that guides and connects us. Thirteenth-century philosopher and theologian Saint Thomas Aquinas wrote that in the search for truth, humans possess two unique sources of knowledge--reason (natural) and faith (supernatural)--and that the two were never meant to contradict one another but rather to work together.

Secrecy is essential to the crime of child molestation and when it encounters the sacred secrecy inherent to some religious organizations, an atmosphere is created in which the predator can thrive. Psychoanalyst Sue Grand has studied child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic Church and sums up the crisis from both psychological and religious perspectives: "Secrecy, concealment, denial, ambiguity, confusion: These are Satan's fellow travelers, requiring elaborate interpersonal and intrapsychic collusion between perpetrators and bystanders. The operations of silence potentiate evil and remove all impediments from its path."

Historically, the most prominent religious organizations involved in criminal and civil child sexual abuse cases included the Roman Catholic Church, the Jehovah's Witnesses organization, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as the Mormon Church).This certainly doesn't mean that people who belong to these groups are more likely to sexually abuse children than are, say, Methodists, Buddhists, Jews, Muslims, or Hindus. Rather, it's the manner in which these institutions have sometimes handled sexual molestation accusations that is problematic. It often leaves the pedophile free to roam and attack again.

How Pope Francis Became the World’s BFF

The Daily Beast

Jason Berry

The first Jesuit pope has endeared himself to people not so much through his religion but through his humane politics, which were forged in repressive Argentina.

In the 20 months since his bow from the balcony above St. Peter’s Square after the conclave, introducing himself as the bishop of Rome, Pope Francis has registered in poll after poll as the most popular person in the world.

“Barack Obama gets an average of 1,300 retweets on his account; Pope Francis gets twenty thousand,” wrote Alma Guillermoprieto in a June 23 profile of the pope for Matter, signaling another sign of this pope’s status.

Popes, presidents, the Dalai Lama, certain first ladies, and movie stars typically lead such surveys; but after decades of scandals over sexually abusive priests and financial corruption reaching into the Vatican Bank, the church’s reversal under Francis is a striking media narrative. For much of the popular tide behind him reflects another reality: his politics have an appeal that reaches far beyond the declining number of church-going Catholics. Not since 1989, when John Paul II bestrode the global stage as a catalyst in the collapse of the Soviet Empire, has a pope stirred such feelings of hope. John Paul was youthful in his sixties with a radiant charisma. Francis is well into his seventies, looks it, has a mild demeanor and soft speaking style; but his rhetoric is electrifying.

Former Yarmouth priest granted full parole ...

Nova News

Former Yarmouth priest granted full parole on November 2012 conviction for indecent assaults

YARMOUTH – A former Yarmouth County priest who was sentenced in November 2012 after pleading guilty to sexually abusing six young boys dating back to the mid 1960s to the earlier 1980s has been granted full parole.

Albert LeBlanc – who was 83 years old when he was sentenced in a Yarmouth courtroom to five-and-a-half years in prison – was granted full parole in early December.

The victims of his crimes have been made aware of the Parole Board of Canada’s decision.

As part of his parole conditions, LeBlanc must immediately report all intimate relationships and friendships with females and males who have parental responsibility for male children under the age of 18.

Pope Francis, At Christmas Gathering, Blasts Vatican's Bureaucrats



Pope Francis has blasted the Vatican's top bureaucrats at an annual Christmas gathering, accusing the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Curia of "spiritual Alzheimer's" and careerism.

"Sometimes, [officials of the Curia] feel themselves lords of the manor – superior to everyone and everything," Francis told the Curia's assembled members, according to Vatican Radio, which carried a report of the meeting titled "Pope Francis: Christmas greetings to Curia."

The Curia is dominated by Italians who oversee the world's 1.2 billion Catholics. Francis, an Argentine, is the first non-European to hold the papacy in more than a millennium. The former Cardinal had not worked in the Curia before his election, and has made reform of the Vatican a major part of his agenda.

"The Curia needs to change, to improve ... a Curia that does not criticize itself, that does not bring itself up to date, that does not try to improve, is a sick body," he said.

Pope Francis makes scathing critique of Vatican officials in Curia speech

The Guardian (UK)

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
Monday 22 December 2014

Pope Francis ended the year with a scathing critique of the church’s highest-ranking officials, including a list of 15 “ailments” that he said plagued the Vatican’s power-hungry bureaucracy.

The Argentinian pontiff used a traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See to portray a church hierarchy that had lost its humanity at times, a body consumed by narcissism and excessive activity, where men who are meant to serve God with optimism instead presented a hardened, sterile face to the world.

The 78-year-old pope’s second Christmas speech since his election in 2013 was met by tepid applause among his Vatican audience, according to the Associated Press, and just a few smiling faces.

Pope Francis: Merry Christmas, you power-hungry hypocrites

USA Today

Josephine McKenna , Religion News Service December 22, 2014

VATICAN CITY (RNS) — Pope Francis launched a blistering attack on the Vatican bureaucracy Monday, outlining a "catalog of illnesses" that plague the church's central administration, including "spiritual Alzheimer's" and gossipy cliques.

The pope's traditional Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was less an exchange of warm wishes than a laundry list of what the pontiff called the "ailments of the Curia" that he wants to cure.

In a critique that left many of the assembled clerics clearly uncomfortable, the 15 ailments in Francis' "catalog of illnesses" reflected the take-no-prisoners approach he promised when he was elected nearly two years ago as an outsider with little direct experience in Rome.

Pope issues scathing critique of Vatican bureaucracy in pre-Christmas meeting

National Catholic Reporter

Joshua J. McElwee | Dec. 22, 2014

Pope Francis on Monday used an annual pre-Christmas meeting with the cardinals and bishops of the Vatican bureaucracy -- normally an exchange of good wishes and blessings -- to issue a scathing critique of them, warning against 15 separate "diseases" in their work and attitudes.

Saying he wanted to prepare them all -- including himself -- to make "a real examination of conscience" before Christmas, Francis said while the Vatican bureaucracy was called to "always improve and grow in communion," it was also prone to "disease, malfunction, and infirmity" like every human institution.

"I believe it will help us [to make] a 'catalog' of diseases ... to help us prepare for the sacrament of reconciliation, which will be a good step for all of us to prepare for Christmas," Francis said.

Many of the 15 diseases given by Francis were frank and blunt: a feeling of indispensability like a "rich fool"; of having a "spiritual Alzheimer's" that makes a person dependent on the present; of living an "existential schizophrenia" of double lives that create "parallel worlds"; and a "terrorism of gossip" that sows discord and that amounts to "cold-blooded murder" of friends and colleagues.

VT--Victims blast new VT Catholic bishop

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Monday, Dec. 22

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com , davidgclohessy@gmail.com )

We are deeply disappointed that Pope Francis has promoted Cardinal Bernard Law’s former mouthpiece. For years, time and time again, then Fr. Christopher Coyne repeated deceptive public relations spin about heinous child sex crimes and callous cover ups by Law and other Catholic officials.

[Burlington Free Press]

Ironically, on the same day that headlines tout a tongue-lashing of self-serving church bureaucrats by Pope Francis, the Vatican announces the promotion of an aide to perhaps America’s most self-serving church bureaucrat ever.

[Island Packet]

While a bishop in Indiana, we prodded Coyne to aggressively reach out to anyone who may have seen crimes by Fr. Francis Markey who was arrested by US marshals at his Indiana home in connection with the alleged rape of a 15-year-old boy twice, including the day of the boy's father's funeral.

As best we can tell, he ignored our request.


And he did absolutely nothing in Boston or Indianapolis that gives us any hope he’ll be any better on children’s safety than his predecessor.

So we urge Vermont Catholics and citizens to be skeptical and vigilant and report known or suspected clergy sex crimes and cover ups to secular authorities, not church officials.

In many ways, Francis is very different than Benedict. When it comes to the abuse crisis, however, he really isn’t. Both popes promote church officials who ignored or concealed known or suspected clergy sex crimes, time and time and time again. Today’s announcement continues that depressing pattern.

Francis: a Curia that is outdated, sclerotic or indifferent to others is an ailing body

Vatican Information Service

Vatican City, 22 December 2014 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Holy Father held his annual meeting with the Roman Curia to exchange Christmas greetings with the members of its component dicasteries, councils, offices, tribunals and commissions. “It is good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is, a body that seeks, seriously and on a daily basis, to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itself and with Christ”.

“The Curia is always required to better itself and to grow in communion, sanctity and wisdom to fully accomplish its mission. However, like any body, it is exposed to sickness, malfunction and infirmity. … I would like to mention some of these illnesses that we encounter most frequently in our life in the Curia. They are illnesses and temptations that weaken our service to the Lord”, continued the Pontiff, who after inviting all those present to an examination of conscience to prepare themselves for Christmas, listed the most common Curial ailments:

The first is “the sickness of considering oneself 'immortal', 'immune' or 'indispensable', neglecting the necessary and habitual controls. A Curia that is not self-critical, that does not stay up-to-date, that does not seek to better itself, is an ailing body. … It is the sickness of the rich fool who thinks he will live for all eternity, and of those who transform themselves into masters and believe themselves superior to others, rather than at their service”.

The second is “'Martha-ism', or excessive industriousness; the sickness of those who immerse themselves in work, inevitably neglecting 'the better part' of sitting at Jesus' feet. Therefore, Jesus required his disciples to rest a little, as neglecting the necessary rest leads to stress and agitation. Rest, once one who has brought his or her mission to a close, is a necessary duty and must be taken seriously: in spending a little time with relatives and respecting the holidays as a time for spiritual and physical replenishment, it is necessary to learn the teaching of Ecclesiastes, that 'there is a time for everything'”.

Police investigate 5 Westminster pedophile rings, survivors demand inquiry overhaul


Survivors of alleged Westminster child sex abuse have called on the government to replace the current inquiry with a more powerful body. Meanwhile, it has been revealed that the Home Secretary was considering disbanding the investigation entirely.

A letter written to Home Secretary Theresa May by survivors of child abuse urged that powers be given to a new inquiry which would have the authority to “compel witnesses to give evidence under oath.”

The letter, which was shown to the BBC, reportedly requested a “replacement of the current panel” and an increase in “statutory powers,” it was reported Sunday. Signed by an organization of survivors and professionals, the letters claimed that more powers would “increase confidence” in the inquiry.

“It is essential that those conducting the inquiry have appropriate experience, are free from strong links to prominent establishment figures or any other potential conflict of interest and have a proven track record of promoting survivors’ rights,” the letter said.

Abuse survivor: Inquiry 'must have teeth'

BBC News

[with audio]

22 December 2014

Dozens of child abuse survivors have urged the government to scrap an inquiry into historical abuse and replace it with a more powerful body.

In the letter to Home Secretary Theresa May, survivors, survivors' groups and associated professionals call for a new inquiry with the power to "compel witnesses to give evidence under oath".

Ian McFadyen is an abuse survivor and campaigner who signed the letter.

He told the BBC 5 live Breakfast that he felt the inquiry "must have teeth".

Pope says Vatican administration is sick with power and greed


By Philip Pullella

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – The Vatican’s top administrators would have been expecting an exchange of pleasantries at their annual Christmas meeting with Pope Francis on Monday.

Instead, he chose the occasion to issue a stinging critique, telling the priests, bishops and cardinals who run the Curia, the central administration of the Roman Catholic Church, that careerism, scheming and greed had infected them with “spiritual Alzheimer’s”.

Francis, the first non-European pope in 1,300 years, has refused many of the trappings of office and made plain his determination to bring the Church’s hierarchy closer to its 1.2 billion members.

To that end, he has set out to reform the Italian-dominated Curia, whose power struggles and leaks were widely held responsible for Benedict XVI’s decision last year to become the first pope in six centuries to resign.

“The Curia needs to change, to improve … a Curia that does not criticise itself, that does not bring itself up to date, that does not try to improve, is a sick body,” he said in a sombre address.

Pope Francis deplores Vatican 'ills' in speech to Curia

BBC News

Pope Francis has sharply criticised the Vatican bureaucracy in a pre-Christmas address to cardinals, complaining of "spiritual Alzheimer's" and "the terrorism of gossip".

He said the Curia - the administrative pinnacle of the Roman Catholic Church - was suffering from 15 "ailments", which he wanted cured in the New Year.

Pope Francis - the first Latin American pontiff - also criticised "those who look obsessively at their own image".

He has demanded reform of the Curia.

Schwerer Weg zurück: „Möchte keine Rache“



HEIDECK Die Gebetsbücher sind längst vergriffen, als die letzten Besucher in den Gottesdienst eilen. Die Stadtpfarrkirche ist besetzt bis auf den allerletzten Platz. Ein Blick in die Gesichter der Menschen an diesem Samstagabend zeigt: Die Katholiken in Heideck sind durch die Bank angespannt.

Wie wird der Pfarrer Tobias Göttle seiner Gemeinde im mittelfränkischen Landkreis Roth gegenübertreten? Nach all dem was passiert ist in den letzten 16 Monaten. Nach den schweren Vorwürfen des Kindesmissbrauchs und den Monaten in der Untersuchungshaft. Alle sind sie heute gekommen, um dabei zu sein, wenn der alte und neue Pfarrer ein paar Tage vor Weihnachten in den Kreis der Gemeinde zurückkehren soll. Darüber sprechen, wie sich das anfühlt, will vorher keiner. Was könne man schon sagen, wenn ein katholischer Geistlicher einen Jungen sexuell missbraucht haben soll? Die Öffentlichkeit sei allzu schnell bereit gewesen, den ungeheuerlichen Verdacht für bare Münze zu nehmen. Waren die katholischen Priester nicht genau aus diesem Grund zuletzt weltweit in die Schlagzeilen geraten? Auch in Heideck hat es Schlagzeilen gegeben. „Pfarrer hinter Gittern“ war nur eine davon.

Heideck: Beifall für Stadtpfarrer


The Heidek parish priest was returned to service this past weekend after he was cleared of charges of sexual abuse of a minor. He was greeted with applause.]

HEIDECK - Dass in einem Gotteshaus Beifall aufbrandet, ist eher selten. Am Samstagabend jedoch gab es für den Heidecker Stadtpfarrer in der Kirche St. Johannes der Täufer reichlich Applaus, nachdem dieser die vergangenen Monate aus seiner Sicht hatte Revue passieren lassen, in denen er dem Verdacht des sexuellen Missbrauches eines Minderjährigen ausgesetzt und deswegen ein Vierteljahr in Untersuchungshaft war (wir berichteten mehrfach). Nachdem der Haftbefehl gegen ihn aufgehoben und die kirchenrechtliche Untersuchung abgeschlossen war, kehrte der Geistliche am Samstag an seine alte Wirkungsstätte zurück – in Begleitung des Eichstätter Bischofs Gregor Maria Hanke.

Missbrauch Kloster Ettal: Gerichtstermin steht fest

Radio Oberland

[Abuse Ettal Abbey: court date is set]

Montag, 22. Dezember 2014
Er soll zwischen den Jahren 2001 und 2005 mehr als 20 Kinder sexuell missbraucht haben – Jetzt steht der Gerichtstermin für den angeklagten Pater aus dem Kloster Ettal. Wie das Tagblatt mitteilt muss er sich zum ersten Mal am 22. Januar vor der Jugendstrafkammer des Münchner Landgerichts verantworten. Für die Verhandlungen sind sieben Tage angesetzt.

Pfarrer missbrauchte eigenes Patenkind!


[A priest named only as George K. (56) has been accused of abusing children, including his godson. The vicar at Willich was in charge until 2008 of several municipalities in the Lower Rhine and is said to be accused of at least 23 cases of abuse.]


Krefeld (NRW) – Er ist ein Mann Gottes: Doch Pfarrer Georg K. (56) wird beschuldigt, ihm anvertraute Kinder missbraucht zu haben. Selbst das eigene Patenkind war nicht vor ihm sicher.

Der Pfarrer aus Willich, der bis 2008 verschiedene Gemeinden am Niederrhein betreute, soll zwischen 2001 und 2006 das zunächst 11 Jahre alte Patenkind in mindestens 23 Fällen missbraucht haben.

Von dem nackten Kind soll er Fotos gemacht haben. In zwei Fällen, so die Anklage, hat er mit dem Kind vor den Übergriffen Marihuana geraucht. Außerdem soll er den damals 8 Jahre alten Bruder des Jungen dreimal missbraucht haben – so zum Beispiel bei einem gemeinsamen Sauna-Besuch.

Sexueller Missbrauch Minderjähriger durch katholische Geistliche...

Bundespresse REPORT 2014

Sexueller Missbrauch Minderjähriger durch katholische Geistliche in Deutschland | Fernau / Hellmann | Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft

[Sexual abuse of minors by Catholic clergy in Germany | Fernau / Hellmann | Nomos Verlagsgesellschaft]

Im vorliegenden Sammelband werden erstmals empirische Befunde zum sexuellen Missbrauch durch katholische Geistliche in Deutschland präsentiert. Die Datenbasis bilden zwei Betroffenenbefragungen, die vertiefende Erkenntnisse über Hintergründe, Besonderheiten und Folgen von innerkirchlichen Missbrauchserfahrungen liefern: eine quantitative Fragebogenerhebung sowie eine qualitative Interviewstudie.

Schwerpunkte der quantitativen Untersuchung sind die Analyse von zentralen Charakteristika der Taten sowie von psychosozialen Folgen, welche diese bei den Betroffenen auslösten. Ferner werden die Reaktionen der Behörden und der katholischen Kirche auf Offenbarungen von Betroffenen in den Blick genommen. Im Fokus der qualitativen Forschung steht die Rekonstruktion verschiedener biografischer Umgangsformen mit den Missbrauchserfahrungen. Dabei wird insbesondere der Rückgriff auf katholische Glaubensvorstellungen in der Auseinandersetzung mit der erlebten sexuellen Gewalt beleuchtet.

Pope Francis’ remedies to heal Curial pathologies

Vatican Insider

An analysis of the speech to the Curia. The Pope does not introduce a new project from the top but the way of mercy that the Church has always recommended in order to cure the 15 ‘diseases’


In his traditional speech to the collaborators of the Roman Curia, a few days before Christmas, Pope Francis avoided customary evaluations of the past year and did not launch programmatic discussions or key words on which to realign the language and initiatives of the Vatican congregations. The Pope spoke to the heads of the Vatican congregations in the Curia about the life of the Curia and its ‘diseases’. His speech expounded a detailed, collective ‘examination of conscience’, recommended to cardinals, bishops and monsignors called to collaborate with him in the Vatican.

The Pope took on the role of spiritual father, educated at the school of St. Ignatius. He did not have any qualms about calling the pathologies, affecting his immediate surroundings, by their name. He did it with lucidity and ‘expertise’ of the object, frustrating once again the stereotype of the Latin-American alien who is not used to the ‘complexities’ of Rome and Europe, with which critics and neo-courtiers attempt to neutralise him. Pope Francis highlighted the root of the curial diseases, as well as providing an ample symptomatology and, above all, he suggested remedies. He started from the rediscovery of the nature of the Church as ‘Mystical Body’ of Christ, according to the consecrated form of Pius XII’s encyclicals ‘Mystici Corporis’.

The ‘Messiah complex’ is mostly responsible for these pathologies among ecclesiastics also in the Curia. This complex often takes over circles and ambitious ecclesiastics, used to putting the teaching about the necessity of grace on the backburner; a teaching already pronounced by Christ to his disciples. Pope Francis said that ‘it must be clear to us all that without Him we can do nothing’. Christmas, said Pope Francis to the officials of the Curia, is a favourable chance to rediscover this dynamic of grace told in the Gospel, because ‘it is also the festival of a light that is not welcomed by the “chosen people” but by the “poor and simple” who awaited the salvation of the Lord.’

Pope Francis: the fifteen 'diseases' of the Curia

Vatican Insider

Francis invites his collaborators to examine their conscience to confess their 'sins' in today's speech. He mentions vainglory and feeling essential, as well as 'spiritual Alzheimer's' and hoarding money and power. The Pope also speaks of closed circles and worldly profit, as well as the 'terrorism of gossip'


15 diseases listed and explained, one by one in detail. In his second Christmas speech to the Roman Curia, Pope Francis identifies and explains 15 shades of sin, inviting everyone to ask for God's forgiveness. The same God who 'is born in poverty in a cave in Bethlehem to teach us the power of humility', and was welcomed not by the "chosen" people but by the "poor and simple". Pope Francis asks his collaborators to really examine their conscience in preparation for confession before Christmas.

Francis explains that these 'diseases' and 'temptations' do not only concern the Curia but 'are naturally a danger to every Christian and every curia, community, congregation, parish, and ecclesiastic movement'. The Pope, however, clearly identifies these as present within the environment where he has been living for 21 months now.

The Pope said that 'it would be good to think of the Roman Curia as a small model of the Church, that is as a "body" which earnestly attempts to be more alive, healthier, more harmonious and more united in itslef and in Christ every day". The Curia, like the Church, cannot live 'without having a vital, personal, authentic and solid relationship with Christ'. And a member of the Curia who does not draw from that every day will become a mere bureaucrat. He adds that ' we will talk about the list of diseases which, following the Fathers of the desert, will aid us in preparing for confession'.

Pope Francis: Christmas greetings to Curia

Vatican Radio

(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis received the heads and other senior officials of the departments of the Roman Curia on Monday, in their traditional exchange of Christmas greetings. In remarks prepared for the occasion and delivered Monday morning, the Holy Father focused on the need for those who serve in the curia – especially those in positions of power and authority – to remember and cultivate an attitude and a spirit of service.

“Sometimes,” said Pope Francis, “[Officials of the Curia] feel themselves ‘lords of the manor’ [It. padroni] – superior to everyone and everything,” forgetting that the spirit, which should animate them in their lives of service to the universal Church, is one of humility and generosity, especially in view of the fact that none of us will live forever on this earth.

This “disease” of feeling “immortal” or “essential” – irreplaceable – was one of fifteen maladies, which Pope Francis identified during the course of his address: from a tendency to prefer Martha’s portion over Mary’s, to over-planning (and micromanaging), to wearing being a perpetual downer and wearing a “funeral face” all the day long.

“These and other maladies and temptations,” said Pope Francis, “are a danger for every Christian and for any administrative organization, community, congregation, parish, ecclesial movement, etc., and can strike at both the individual and the corporate level.”

Udienza del Santo Padre alla Curia Romana in occasione della presentazione degli auguri natalizi, 22.12.2014


[Francis: a Curia that is outdated, sclerotic or indifferent to others is an ailing body - Vatican Information Service]

La Curia Romana e il Corpo di Cristo

"Tu sei sopra i cherubini, tu che hai cambiato la miserabile condizione del mondo quando ti sei fatto come noi" (Sant’Atanasio).

Cari fratelli,

Al termine dell’Avvento ci incontriamo per i tradizionali saluti. Tra qualche giorno avremo la gioia di celebrare il Natale del Signore; l’evento di Dio che si fa uomo per salvare gli uomini; la manifestazione dell’amore di Dio che non si limita a darci qualcosa o a inviarci qualche messaggio o taluni messaggeri ma dona a noi sé stesso; il mistero di Dio che prende su di sé la nostra condizione umana e i nostri peccati per rivelarci la sua Vita divina, la sua grazia immensa e il suo perdono gratuito. E’ l’appuntamento con Dio che nasce nella povertà della grotta di Betlemme per insegnarci la potenza dell’umiltà. Infatti, il Natale è anche la festa della luce che non viene accolta dalla gente "eletta" ma dalla gente povera e semplice che aspettava la salvezza del Signore.

Innanzitutto, vorrei augurare a tutti voi - collaboratori, fratelli e sorelle, Rappresentanti pontifici sparsi per il mondo - e a tutti i vostri cari un santo Natale e un felice Anno Nuovo. Desidero ringraziarvi cordialmente, per il vostro impegno quotidiano al servizio della Santa Sede, della Chiesa Cattolica, delle Chiese particolari e del Successore di Pietro.

Essendo noi persone e non numeri o soltanto denominazioni, ricordo in maniera particolare coloro che, durante questo anno, hanno terminato il loro servizio per raggiunti limiti di età o per aver assunto altri ruoli oppure perché sono stati chiamati alla Casa del Padre. Anche a tutti loro e ai loro famigliari va il mio pensiero e gratitudine. ...

Pope lashes Vatican's bureaucracy, decries greed, egoism

The Guardian (Nigeria)

Monday, 22 December 2014 Written by AFP

POPE Francis lambasted the Vatican's bureaucracy on Monday, saying some within the Church had a lust for power, were indifferent to others and suffered from "spiritual Alzheimer's".

The Argentine used a Christmas speech to cardinals, bishops and priests to list a catalogue of ailments plaguing some at the very top and urging a "cure".

He said the Vatican was riven with "existential schizophrenia", "social exhibitionism", "spiritual Alzheimer's" and a lust for power, all of which have led to an "orchestra that plays out of tune".

He warned against greed, egoism and people who think they are 'immortal'.

It is not the first time the 78-year-old has taken on the scandal-hit, intrigue-filled Curia, and called for them to renounce gossip and act responsibly.

Pope issues blistering critique of Vatican bureaucracy

Island Packet

Associated Press
December 22, 2014

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis issued a blistering critique Monday of the Vatican bureaucracy that serves him, denouncing how some people lust for power at all costs, live hypocritical double lives and suffer from "spiritual Alzheimer's" that has made them forget they're supposed to be joyful men of God.

Francis' Christmas greeting to the cardinals, bishops and priests who run the Holy See was no joyful exchange of holiday good wishes. Rather, it was a sobering catalogue of 15 sins of the Curia that Francis said he hoped would be atoned for and cured in the New Year.

He had some zingers: How the "terrorism of gossip" can "kill the reputation of our colleagues and brothers in cold blood." How cliques can "enslave their members and become a cancer that threatens the harmony of the body" and eventually kill it by "friendly fire." About how some suffer from a "pathology of power" that makes them seek power at all costs, even if it means defaming or discrediting others publicly.

Francis, who is the first Latin American pope and never worked in the Italian-dominated Curia before he was elected, has not shied from complaining about the gossiping, careerism and bureaucratic power intrigues that afflict the Holy See. But as his reform agenda gathers steam, he seemed even more emboldened to highlight what ails the institution.

High-level Vatican visit to Guam amid allegations

Radio New Zealand

A high-level Vatican official is to visit Guam's Catholic community next month.

The Pacific Daily News reports that it is unclear whether the nature of the visit by Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai is friendly or investigatory.

Guam's Archdiocese of Agana says that Hon's Guam trip is a "pastoral visit" that comes in the wake of Archbishop Anthony Apuron's recent trip to see Pope Francis in Rome.

However, Hon is the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican office to whom some of Guam's Catholics have sent letters in recent months, seeking an investigation into various controversies in the local archdiocese.

Representatives from different Guam parishes have formed a group called Concerned Catholics of Guam and plan to investigate the archdiocese's handling of a sexual molestation allegation against Archbishop Apuron.

Deacon is latest to squabble with archbishop


by Krystal Paco

Guam - Controversy continues to plague the local Catholic Church as a new riff emerges, this time between Archbishop Anthony Apuron and Deacon Steve Martinez.

It was on December 17th Deacon Martinez tells KUAM he received a letter from Apuron giving him 24 hours to comply with a directive or face censure meaning he would be removed from his position as a deacon at the Agana Cathedral. That censure automatically went into effect the evening of the 18th.

According to the creator and main blogger at JungleWatch, Tim Rohr, Martinez was accused of exciting hatred and contempt against the church, inciting animosities and hatred against an ordinary and provoking subjects to disobedience as well as joining an association which is plotting against the church. But when asked for proof to substantiate the claims Rohr says "nothing".

Then over the weekend according to Martinez he received another letter from the archbishop reversing his removal however that letter came with the warning that he could still be subject to censure until January 19th. Rohr says this means a gag order has been placed on Martinez. Martinez says that all of this stems from his involvement in the newly formed group the Concerned Catholics of Guam. You may recall that the CCOG was formed by a group of parishioners to investigate the recent controversies within the archdiocese.


Roman Catholic Diocese of Burlington

BURLINGTON – At 6 a.m. Vermont time today – 12 p.m. Noon at the Vatican – Pope Francis appointed The Most Reverend Christopher James Coyne (@bishopcoyne), until now Auxiliary Bishop of Indianapolis, as Tenth Bishop of Burlington.

A Boston native, Bishop Coyne will formally be installed as pastor of Vermont’s 118,000 Catholics on Thursday, January 29, 2015, at 2:00 PM, with a Solemn Mass of Installation in Saint Joseph Co-Cathedral. The Pope’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, will be in attendance as the Holy Father’s personal representative.

“I am grateful to Pope Francis for his confidence in me in appointing me to Burlington. Personally, I could not be happier to be assigned here and look forward to returning to my native New England,” Bishop Coyne said.

The Catholic Church’s first blogging priest to become a bishop on his appointment by then-Pope Benedict XVI in 2011, Coyne is an internationally cited leader in the Faith’s “digital revolution.” Having kept a dedicated daily presence on both Facebook and Twitter to a current 10,000 followers, as well as producing a regular podcast, the bishop’s outreach has been featured on NBC’s Today Show and in the nationally broadcast coverage of the Indianapolis 500, at which he delivered the pre-race Invocation for the last three years. In November 2014, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops elected Bishop Coyne as the next chairman of the national church’s communications efforts, a three-year mandate which begins in 2015.

The middle of seven children born to a postal worker and parish secretary in Woburn, Mass., after graduating from the University of Lowell and working two years as a full-time bartender, Bishop Coyne attended seminary for five years and was ordained a priest of the Archdiocese of Boston on June 7, 1986. While ministering in parishes for most of his years in Massachusetts, Bishop Chris additionally spent twelve years serving as a professor of liturgy at St. John’s Seminary, Brighton, and a number of years as the Archdiocesan Director of Worship and later Secretary for Communications.

Coyne named bishop for Vermont's Catholic Diocese

Burlington Free Press

MIKE DONOGHUE, Free Press Staff Writer December 22, 2014

Auxiliary Bishop Christopher J. Coyne of Indianapolis has been named the new Bishop for the statewide Roman Catholic Diocese in Vermont.

The 56 year-old Massachusetts native has been serving in Indiana for four years. Coyne, who was ordained a priest for the Archdiocese of Boston in June 1986, served in Massachusetts for much of his religious life.

In Vermont Bishop Coyne will oversee the state's largest religion — about 120,000 Catholics spread among about 120 churches. There are 13 Catholic schools, including high schools in South Burlington and Rutland. The diocesan headquarters are on Joy Drive in South Burlington. ...

Coyne became well-known in Massachusetts when the Boston archdiocese in 2002 appointed him the primary spokesman in the wake of numerous priest sex abuse cases and the resulting lawsuits and trials. He held that post for three years.

Vermont has had its share of priest sex abuse cases. When Matano arrived in 2005 he inherited many of the legal problems that stemmed from lack of action by his predecessors, primarily Bishop John A. Marshall, who served Vermont from 1971 to 1991.

Matano initially did not want to settle many of the sex abuse cases. After losing some costly civil trials, the diocese eventually agreed to a $17.65 million out-of-court payout in May 2010 to settle lawsuits with 26 victims alleging long-ago child molesting. The diocese also agreed to undisclosed amounts to settle three other cases that were on appeal to the Vermont Supreme Court.

Matano always said the money would not come from parish members and eventually the Burlington diocese began to sell some of its property in an effort to pay the settlement. The diocesan headquarters on North Avenue was eventually sold for $10 million in January 2011 to Burlington College. Camp Holy Cross in Colchester, a 26-acre parcel on Lake Champlain was sold for $4 million in January 2012. Camp Tara, a short distance away, had sold for $2.2 million in 2004.

‘Canadian Philomenas’ continue to fight for justice

The Irish Times

Jennifer Hough

Mon, Dec 22, 2014

When Valerie Andrews heard an interview last year on the CBC, Canada’s state broadcaster, with Irish adoption campaigner Philomena Lee, she thought “great, but why don’t you give us some airtime?”

“We are here, we are the Canadian Philomenas,” says Andrews, who has been fighting for years to have the story of Canada’s mother-and-baby homes unearthed and acknowledged.

Canada’s tale is all too familiar: pregnant single women incarcerated in religious homes, forced to attend church and carry out unpaid labour; babies removed after birth and illegally adopted, with no way of tracing them.

Testimonies, trickling out slowly from under layers of grief and shame, suggest what happened was just as extreme as what occurred in Ireland, contends Andrews, executive director of Origins Canada, an adoption rights group.

But the Canadian story is yet to have its breakthrough moment, one, perhaps like the Philomena movie, that pierces public consciousness in a way that makes the issue impossible to ignore.

Salvation Army's reputation declines after child sex abuse inquiry hearings: research

ABC News

By Danuta Kozaki

The Salvation Army's reputation has been severely damaged by evidence that children were abused in its homes in the past, research suggests.

In an annual index of the reputations of 40 of Australia's largest charities, the Salvation Army fell from 10th last year to 27th this year.

The Charity Reputation Index, published by research consultants AMR, is based on a survey of the public and considers issues such as trust, leadership and governance.

Managing director Oliver Goodman said community perceptions of the Salvation Army were affected by the high-profile hearings of the Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse earlier this year.

The inquiry heard evidence children were physically and sexually abused in the homes over many years.

Child abuse inquiry: Survivors want new panel and extra powers

BBC News

Dozens of child abuse survivors have urged the government to scrap an inquiry into historical abuse and replace it with a more powerful body.

The call comes after a leaked letter from Theresa May told inquiry members their panel might be disbanded.

Peter Saunders, from National Association for People Abused in Childhood, said the move would be supported by the majority of survivors.

Labour's Simon Danczuk said the inquiry so far had been an "utter mess".

Mr Danczuk, who exposed child sex abuse allegations against former Liberal MP Cyril Smith, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that survivors would be "dismayed" by the progress of the inquiry - which was set up in July and has started work, but has no chairman.

Survivors urge scrapping of child abuse inquiry

Channel 4

Dozens of child abuse survivors welcome Theresa May's indication that the panel conducting an inquiry into historical abuse could be disbanded to make way for a more powerful body.

A letter, signed by more than 60 victims and representatives who wish to remain anonymous, calls for a statutory inquiry to be declared, a public announcement that the existing panel will be scrapped and replaced on a "transparent fit-for-purpose" basis and the appointment of an inquiry chair who has "demonstrable experience and ability in challenging the establishment".

"It is important that the inquiry is centred on bringing perpetrators before the courts, holding those that have failed in their professional duty or covered up allegations or been obstructive to account and delivering justice for survivors," the letter reads.

Home Secretary Theresa May's first two choices to chair the inquiry have both stood down amid claims they were too closely linked to establishment figures.

Shambolic government inquiry into child sex abuse ...

Daily Mail

Shambolic government inquiry into child sex abuse looks like a 'deliberate' cover up, says Labour MP


Theresa May’s shambolic handling of the government’s historic child abuse inquiry looks like a ‘deliberate’ attempt to stop victims getting to the truth, a Labour MP has claimed.

Simon Danczuk said survivors of abuse could be forced to take ‘direct action’ if the Home Secretary fails to get a grip.

The remarks, which sparked a furious backlash, come after Mrs May revealed that an independent panel set up to support the planned public inquiry could be disbanded.

Some victims’ groups welcomed the move despite warnings it could delay the inquiry for ‘yet more weeks and probably months’.

Mr Danczuk said victims would be dismayed at the lack of progress in the probe, and could not help worrying that the litany of mistakes was party of a wider cover up.

Child abuse victims’ group wants panel to be replaced with more powerful body

The Guardian

Andrew Sparrow, political correspondent
Monday 22 December 2014

A leading organisation representing child abuse victims has welcomed reports that Theresa May, the home secretary, may scrap the abuse inquiry panel so that it can be replaced with a more powerful body.

Peter Saunders, chief executive of the National Association for People Abused in Childhood (Napac), told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday that he did not know any abuse survivors who had confidence in the panel as it currently exists.

He was speaking after it emerged that more than 60 victims and their representatives had written to the Home Office supporting the call for the panel to be replaced with a statutory inquiry that has the power to call witnesses.

Having to wind up the panel and start again would be an embarrassment for May, who originally announced the inquiry in the summer. On Monday Simon Danczuk, the Labour MP who has played a leading role in campaigning for an inquiry, said the Home Office was making so many mistakes that he was starting to suspect it wanted to stop the inquiry getting to the truth.

Child abuse inquiry: 'The Government might not want to get to the truth,' says Labour MP


LIZZIE DEARDEN Monday 22 December 2014

A Labour MP has said that continuing chaos surrounding the Westminster child abuse inquiry makes it look as though the Government does not “want to get to the truth”.

Simon Danczuk said victims would be dismayed at the lack of progress in the probe, and could not help worrying that the litany of mistakes was “deliberate”.

The Home Secretary has indicated that the troubled inquiry panel may be disbanded and replaced after calls from victims' families to give it more powers, potentially causing further delay.

Fiona Woolf and Baroness Butler-Sloss have both stepped down from the role of inquiry chairman and a replacement has not yet been appointed.

Towson student joins lawsuit involving rabbi

The Baltimore Sun

By Susan Reimer
The Baltimore Sun

A Towson University student has added her name to a civil suit involving a Towson associate professor and rabbi accused of taking pictures and videos of women in a ritual bath.

The young woman, who asked that she be identified only by her first name to protect her privacy, was a student of Rabbi Barry Freundel when, she said, he encouraged her to participate in a mikvah as research for a term paper, even though she was not Jewish and had no wish to convert.

A mikvah is a cleansing ritual that is often a final step for a convert.

Stephanie said she believed as soon as the charges against Freundel were make public in October that she had been videotaped, too.

"I felt shock first. Total and complete shock," she said in a telephone interview Sunday. "It took a while to feel everything else that comes with something like this."

Exposed: The Gay-Bashing Pastor’s Same-Sex Assault

The Daily Beast

M.L. Nestel

He preached against homosexuality on Sundays—and forced himself on young men during the week.
Pastor Gaylard Williams earned a good reputation among his evangelical ilk.

The Indiana holy man carried himself with humility, and on the pulpit Gaylard Williams played to his conservative congregants by coming out swinging against homosexuals.

The God-fearing 59-year-old was able to prove himself a servant of God to the elderly followers who filled the pews every Sunday at the Praise Cathedral Church of God in the small hamlet of Seymour, Indiana, to receive his heartfelt sermons.

And Williams presented himself as a dedicated husband for two decades to his wife, who also led the women ministry, and took pride as a father in having reared two upstanding sons.


Southwark News

22 December 2014 By Court Reporter

A controversial African preacher who claimed to be able to give infertile couples 'miracle babies' was cleared of raping a follower on Thursday.

Self-styled 'Archbishop of Peckham' Gilbert Deya, 61, vowed to continue in his mission to "preach the gospel of Jesus Christ" after the court cleared him of two counts of rape, two of sexual assault, attempted rape and assault by beating after nearly five hours of deliberations.

Deya said: "The court has today rightly ruled that I am an innocent man" after he stood accused of sexually assaulting one of his followers during an alleged campaign of abuse spanning nearly a decade.

The alleged victim came to Britain from Sierra Leone in 2003 and visited Deya's church in Peckham in 2006.

December 21, 2014

Brothers pay more to victims

The West Australian

Bethany Hiatt
December 22, 2014

The Christian Brothers have reopened 80 previously settled cases in the wake of royal commission hearings held earlier this year into sexual abuse at four WA orphanages.

In a written statement, the Christian Brothers said new settlements had been reached in 14 cases and mediation meetings had taken place recently in 20 cases in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The commission released a report on Friday which found that Christian Brothers leaders knew of allegations of sexual abuse of children at four WA orphanages and failed to manage the homes to prevent the systemic ill-treatment for decades.

Christian Brothers Oceania province leader Brother Peter Clinch said it had made significant progress on the commitment it made at the public hearings in April to re-examine cases that had been "settled on demonstrably unjust and unreasonably low terms".

Jury sides with fired teacher

The Journal Gazette

$1.9 million judgment against Catholic diocese

Rebecca S. Green The Journal Gazette

Almost every single thing for which Emily Herx asked the jury, she received.

Nearly $2 million in damages, and vindication, after the jury ruled that the Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend discriminated against the former language arts teacher at St. Vincent de Paul Catholic School when they fired her for undergoing in vitro fertilization.

The verdict came after about 51/2 hours of deliberation Friday afternoon, capping off a four-day jury trial before U.S. District Judge Robert Miller Jr. in the expansive federal courthouse just a few blocks from the Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception, the center of the diocese.

As she waited for the jury to come in, Herx sat ramrod straight in her chair at the table next to her attorney, Kathleen DeLaney, her face anything but calm as she clearly tried to control her breathing and anxiety.

Throughout the trial, she heard herself characterized by the defense as a potential drug abuser, an emotional basket case and as someone who committed a sin so grave and immoral that no circumstances could justify it.

But after the verdict was read, she seemed to uncoil with relief, crying and holding onto DeLaney in a long and tearful embrace.

Grandma Hillary Clinton vs. Grandpa Figure Pope Francis in 2015 ?

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

1. Exceptional “Grandma” figures, Hillary Clinton and Betty Clermont, are in different ways poised to challenge in 2015 the world’s most prominent “Grandpa” type figure, Pope Francis, as the Vatican priest child abuse and contraception ban controversies are set to boil over next year.

2. Betty Clermont is a retired grandmother armed only with a computer and Internet access. She is author of “The Neo-Catholics”. Her well researched recent reports relentlessly and exhaustively have shown the large gaps between Pope Francis’ deeds and words. Please see Betty Clermont’s exceptional, interesting and disturbing new report at:

3. [Daily Kos]

4. Hillary Clinton has been in Vatican struggles over women and children’s rights since at least her 1995 clash with Mary Ann Glendon, now apparently Pope Francis’ top female adviser, at the UN Beijing Conference on women’s rights. For a recent look back at Hillary Clinton’s 1995 efforts, please see , “20 Minutes That Changed The World: Hillary Clinton In Beijing.” and her 1995 address at Beijing at:

5. [Huffington Post]

6. [YouTube]

7. Betty Clermont also has exposed repeatedly the captive main stream media’s subtle and troubling role in creating the Francis Myth. She has illustrated extensively the appalling power of the nearly monopolistic main stream media, almost stealthily, to create an “accommodating” world religious leader in Francis to facilitate the obscene and dangerous trend towards worldwide income inequality. Where are the main stream media investigators on these matters? Why are so many of them so often outdistanced by a lone, but courageous, grandmother like Betty Clermont?

8. The main stream media’s papal omissions, however, may soon be reversed in 2015. Two world media stars are on course to collide in the “battle of the sexes”, senior style, in 2015.

Salvation Army drops 17 places on charity reputation survey

Sydney Morning Herald

December 22, 2014

Angharad Owens-Strauss

One of Australia's best-known welfare organisations, the Salvation Army, has dropped 17 places from last year in the 2014 AMR Charity Reputation Index, a yearly survey which measures the overall reputation of the country's 40 largest charities .

The Salvation Army dropped from No.10 in 2013 to No.27 this year.

The results follows allegations of child sex abuse by Salvation Army staff that were the subject of a royal commission inquiry. More than 100 children came forward with reports of physical, sexual and indecent abuse.

In a February hearing of the royal commission, James Condon, leader of the Salvation Army's Eastern Territory, said the charity's reputation was no longer a priority.

"The priority is the survivor, not protection of the Salvation Army," he said.

The National Heart Foundation of Australia dropped nine places in this year's index.

Theresa May could 'disband' child sex abuse inquiry panel


The panel set up to run the public child sex abuse inquiry may be "disbanded" by Theresa May in the New Year, according to reports.

In a letter addressed to panel members, and leaked by investigative website Exaro News, the Home Secretary says she is considering three options which will give the inquiry full statutory powers - two of which would most likely require the panel being split up.

The three options outlined by May to secure the inquiry statutory powers, including the ability to compel witnesses to give evidence, are:

* the appointment of a new chairman who would then request statutory powers

* the setting up of a new inquiry panel under statutory terms

* holding the inquiry as a Royal Commission without the powers of a statutory inquiry

The Home Office said May was still considering all her options and nothing has yet been decided.

Child sex abuse inquiry panel 'could be disbanded

BBC News

By Tom Symonds
Home Affairs correspondent

The independent panel set up to support the planned public inquiry into historical child abuse could be disbanded, the BBC understands.

Home Secretary Theresa May has written to panel members saying three options to give the inquiry full statutory powers are being considered.

Only one option does not require the panel to be disbanded.

A Home Office spokesman said Mrs May wanted to balance making progress "with the need to get this right".

The panel, which has started work, still has nobody to chair it after the first two nominations stood down.

Theresa May opens way for beefed-up child sex abuse inquiry


By David Barrett, Home Affairs Correspondent
21 Dec 2014

Theresa May, the Home Secretary, has indicated for the first time that she is prepared to go back to the drawing board over the controversial Government inquiry into historic child sex abuse.

Members of the official inquiry panel set up by the Home Office said they were "devastated" that ministers were poised to scrap the existing set-up in the New Year.

However, groups representing alleged victims of abuse welcomed the ​ development and said they hoped the new inquiry would have tougher powers, including the ability to force witnesses to give evidence.

In a letter to panel members Mrs May said she was considering a number of options, which would have "implications" for members.

Survivors Welcome Scrapping Of Sex Abuse Panel

Sky News

By Sean Dilley, Sky News Reporter

Survivors have welcomed reports, in a letter seen by Sky News, that Theresa May is planning to scrap the panel set up to investigate allegations of historical child sex abuse.

The letter, signed by more than 60 victims and representatives who wish to remain anonymous, lists a series of demands for the Home Secretary regarding the Child Sex Abuse Inquiry.

It calls for a statutory inquiry to be declared, a public announcement that the existing panel will be scrapped and replaced on a "transparent fit-for-purpose" and the appointment of an inquiry chair who has "demonstrable experience and ability in challenging the establishment".

It reads: "Following the mistakes of the last six months, we consider your proposals as an opportunity to place the inquiry on to a firm footing whereby it can focus on dealing with organised and institutional abuse and cover ups at the highest levels.

Duped by the Media on Pope Francis, Progressives Wonder How Republicans Get Elected

Daily Kos

SAT DEC 20, 2014

by Betty Clermont

“Americans will vote for Republicans even though they disagree with them on everything. [O]n the biggest issues facing Congress, they still agree with Democrats on ... almost everything. That includes issues like raising the minimum wage, making the rich pay more in taxes, letting illegal immigrants stay in the United States, taking action to stem global warming, legalizing same sex marriage and fixing the Affordable Care Act rather than repealing it,” noted Zachary A. Goldfarb, policy editor at the Washington Post, after November’s elections.

By 2014, “the state of the nation has improved dramatically over the past four years. Unemployment is down to 5.9 percent and consumer confidence is back to levels not seen since before the deep recession which began in late 2007. The stock market is at record highs while the annual federal budget deficit is less than half of what it was when Barack Obama first took the oath of office,” explained Jon Perr who cited the above article by Goldfarb.

A majority of Americans don’t know this because the corporate media don’t report it.

“At its founding [in 1934], the Federal Communications Commission viewed the stations to which it granted licenses as ‘public trustees’ and required that they make every reasonable attempt to cover contrasting points of views. The Commission also required that stations perform public service in reporting on crucial issues in their communities. Soon after he became FCC Chairman under President Reagan, Michael Fowler stated his desire to do away with this Fairness Doctrine.”

“The devolution of the American press began when Ronald Reagan abolished the Fairness Doctrine. [Broadcasters] no longer have an obligation to serve the public interest. Their only obligation is to their shareholders,” stated Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. ...

The following illustrates the appalling power of the corporate media to create a world leader and will hopefully generate a conversation, using this example, about how to overcome its lies and omissions. Information about Pope Francis withheld by the corporate media comes after the popular headline. ...

Pope Francis Addresses Sex Abuse Scandal

Next to appointing and promoting a dozen or so churchmen with records as dismal as his own in protecting predator pedophiles, there is no better example of Pope Francis’ lack of resolve to protect children than his handling of his former nuncio to the Dominican Republic, Archbishop Josef Wesolowski. For more than 16 months after being informed of the accusations against his ambassador, the pope left Wesolowski with free access to more children. Additionally, Pope Francis has done everything possible to prevent Wesolowski from being prosecuted by Dominican officials.

A Catholic deacon, Francisco Javier Occi Reyes, was arrested by the police on June 24, 2013. The deacon “said at the time of his arrest he was ‘pimping’ a youngster for Wesolowski, who was allegedly waiting in his vehicle nearby….The minors interviewed [by the police] admitted to masturbating for, and of taking part in oral sex with the archbishop as he filmed them with a cell phone [in exchange for cash] while another witness affirmed seeing porno in his laptop at the Vatican embassy.”

Occi confessed to the allegations. “When no one came to bail him out, the deacon sent an anguished letter dated July 2 to Wesolowski... The deacon sent copies of the letter to Cardinal Nicolas de Jesus López Rodriguez, the head of the Church in the Dominican Republic, and to a Dominican bishop, Gregorio Nicanor Peña Rodríguez. The cardinal then carried the evidence to the Vatican, where he met directly with Pope Francis according to Dominican officials.”

Reported with the usual “Pope Francis gets tough on sex abuse” headlines, on July 11, 2013, the pontiff enacted a civil law making sexual violence and possession of child pornography punishable by up to 12 years in prison not only for those who live in Vatican City State, but also all employees, including the diplomatic corps, of the Holy See. Those accused of these crimes would be tried by the Cardinal Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura (Supreme Court) and two other judges of his choosing - providing a possible motive for the later dismissal of the independently-minded Cardinal Raymond Burke.

According to experts in international law, the Vatican could have waived diplomatic immunity for the ambassador. But in hindsight, it’s probable that Pope Francis wanted Wesolowski tried under his control.

Because the pope kept the information about Wesolowski secret, the general public knew nothing about the ambassador until a local TV broadcast on August 31, 2013. The result of a year-long investigation, the program contained testimony about Wesolowski’s crimes. Three days after the broadcast, a local bishop confirmed that Wesolowski had already been dismissed by the pope and that he had left the country only a few days earlier. There were accusations that the pope allowed Wesolowski to escape and his whereabouts remained unknown.

"For me it was a surprise to see Wesolowski walking along Via della Scrofa in Rome. The silence of the Church has injured the people of God," tweeted Santo Domingo archdiocese Auxiliary Bishop Víctor Masalles on June 24, 2014. Another report stated “the former papal nuncio was living in a fairly upscale house for prelates called the Casa del Clero.”

£2 million for victims of child sex abuse


Organisations which help victims of child sexual abuse have been awarded £2 million by the Government due to a massive surge in their workload.

The Home Office and the Ministry of Justice said charities and other groups had seen an increase in demand because of the Government's high-profile inquiry into the issue, prompted by allegations of a Westminster paedophile conspiracy.

Organisations will be able to apply for a share of the fund if they are assisting people directly affected by issues covered in the inquiry.

Further cash was also announced for other groups assisting victims of sex abuse, brining the total to £7 million.

Ex-detectives who claimed VIP paedophiles were protected in cover-ups to present dossier to inquiry


Dec 20, 2014 By Nick Dorman, Alex Varley-Winter

The former Metrpoplitan Police officers have agreed to ­compile formal statements on what they knew of VIP child abuse operations being shut down

Ex-cops who claim VIP paedophile investigations were axed in a cover-up are to hand a dossier to Britain’s most senior police officer.

They have agreed to ­compile formal statements on what they knew of ­operations being shut down.

The file will be presented to Met Commissioner Sir Bernard Hogan-Howe.

Last week we told how in messages on a members-only web forum for ex-officers, it was claimed probes which got close to explosing VIPs were “canned”.

Now we can reveal messages on the site detail the plan to compile a dossier for Sir Bernard and Home Secretary Theresa May’s Child Sex Abuse inquiry.

Police discuss submitting statements on paedophile cover-up

Exaro News

20 December 2014

By Alex Varley-Winter

Exaro today publishes postings on a private forum in which former officers from Scotland Yard discuss submitting statements on the cover-up of VIP paedophiles.

We’re putting an end to religion: Richard Dawkins, Bill Maher and the exploding new American secularism



What is going on? How do we explain this recent wave of secularization that is washing over so much of America?

The answer to these questions is actually much less theological or philosophical than one might think. It is simply not the case that in recent years tens of millions of Americans have suddenly started doubting the cosmological or ontological arguments for the existence of God, or that hundreds of thousands of other Americans have miraculously embraced the atheistic naturalism of Denis Diderot. Sure, this may be happening here and there, in this or that dorm room or on this or that Tumblr page. The best-sellers written by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris—as well as the irreverent impiety and flagrant mockery of religion by the likes of Jon Stewart, Stephen Colbert, Bill Maher, House, South Park, and Family Guy—have had some impact on American culture. As we have seen, a steady, incremental uptick of philosophical atheism and agnosticism is discernible in America in recent years. But the larger reality is that for the many millions of Americans who have joined the ranks of the nonreligious, the causes are most likely to be political and sociological in nature.

For starters, we can begin with the presence of the religious right, and the backlash it has engendered. Beginning in the 1980s, with the rise of such groups as the Moral Majority and the Christian Coalition, the closeness of conservative Republicanism with evangelical Christianity has been increasingly tight and publicly overt. Throughout the 1990s and 2000s, more and more politicians on the right embraced the conservative Christian agenda, and more and more outspoken conservative Christians allied themselves with the Republican Party. Examples abound, from Michele Bachmann to Ann Coulter, from Mike Huckabee to Pat Robertson, and from Rick Santorum to James Dobson. With an emphasis on seeking to make abortion illegal, fighting against gay rights (particularly gay marriage), supporting prayer in schools, advocating “abstinence only” sex education, opposing stem cell research, curtailing welfare spending, supporting Israel, opposing gun control, and celebrating the war on terrorism, conservative Christians have found a warm welcome within the Republican Party, which has been clear about its openness to the conservative Christian agenda. This was most pronounced during the eight years that George W. Bush was in the White House. ...

A second factor that helps account for the recent rise of secularity in America is the devastation of, and reaction against, the Catholic Church’s pedophile priest scandal. For decades the higher-ups in the Catholic Church were reassigning known sexual predators to remote parishes rather than having them arrested and prosecuted. Those men in authority thus engaged in willful cover-ups, brash lawbreaking, and the aggressive slandering of accusers—and all with utter impunity. The extent of this criminality is hard to exaggerate: over six thousand priests have now been credibly implicated in some form of sex abuse, five hundred have been jailed, and more victims have been made known than one can imagine. After the extent of the crimes—the rapes and molestations as well as the cover-ups—became widely publicized, many Americans, and many Catholics specifically, were disgusted. Not only were the actual sexual crimes themselves morally abhorrent, but the degree to which those in positions of power sought to cover up these crimes and allow them to continue was truly shocking. The result has been clear: a lot of Catholics have become ex-Catholics. For example, consider the situation in New England. Between 2000 and 2010, the Catholic Church lost 28 percent of its members in New Hampshire and 33 percent of its members in Maine, and closed nearly seventy parishes—a quarter of the total number—throughout the Boston area. In 1990, 54 percent of Massachusetts residents identified as Catholic, but it was down to 39 percent in 2008. And according to an “American Values” survey from 2012, although nearly one-third of Americans report being raised Catholic, only 22 percent currently identify as such—a precipitous nationwide decline indeed.

Catholic Bishop of Fairbanks, Chad Zielinski, Ordained in Fairbanks


By Jenn Ruckel, December 19, 2014

after more than a year without an official leader, the 18,000 Catholics in the 46 parishes of northern Alaska will now be led—for the first time in U.S. history—by an active duty military chaplain. Bishop Chad Zielinski was ordained in Fairbanks on Monday, and was welcomed by a host of priests, deacons, and parishioners from throughout the region.

The ceremony was a unique blend of Catholic and Native traditions, bringing people together all the way from North Pole to Barrow and Nome. While the diocese is still recovering from a dark chapter—more than 100 claims of sexual abuse at the hands priests and church volunteers—parishioners like Michael Welch say this is a time for healing, with the guidance and support of their new bishop.

December 20, 2014

Vatican official set to visit Guam

Pacific Sunday News

Written by
Gaynor Dumat-ol Daleno
Pacific Sunday News

A high-level Vatican official is visiting Guam's Catholic community next month, but whether the visit will be friendly, or investigatory, is in dispute.

"The Archdiocese of Agana is happy to welcome the pastoral visit of His Excellency, the Most Reverend Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai," the archdiocese stated Friday, in part, in a written statement to the media.

Hon is the secretary of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, the Vatican office to whom some of Guam's Catholics sent letters over the past several months, seeking an investigation of the various controversies in the local archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Agana emphasized, by underlining in Friday's media statement, that Hon's Guam trip is a "pastoral visit."

Hon's visit, according to the archdiocese, comes "in the wake of Archbishop Anthony Apuron's successful visit with Pope Francis last month in Rome." ...

More than a week ago, certain members of different parishes on Guam formed a nonprofit group called Concerned Catholics of Guam Inc., and announced the group plans to investigate the management of the local church, its financial books, and the archdiocese's handling of a sexual molestation allegation against Apuron.

Apuron has called the allegation a "horrible calumny," but declined to respond further to the allegation on the advice of his attorney because he's planning a defamation lawsuit to defend the church.

The group's president, Greg Perez, made a statement on Dec. 9 on why Concerned Catholics was formed. "A few of us would meet occasionally to discuss these stories about the archbishop, priests who have been allegedly blamed for mismanagement of funds or alleged disobedience and then removed from their parishes, the lack of transparency with the finances of the archdiocese, neglect of precious artifacts in the archdiocesan museum, among other issues," Perez said.

Tim Rohr, a Guam resident who writes a blog on Catholic issues, called Jungle Watch, believes the nature of the Vatican official's visit is investigatory. "The people who are coming -- the nature of their office is investigation," Rohr said.

Child abuse panel faces axe threat

Daily Mail

Press Association

The troubled child abuse inquiry panel could be disbanded in order for a new, more powerful, body to take over, Theresa May has indicated.

The Home Secretary has written to the panel's members setting out her plan for the inquiry to be given statutory powers, including the ability to compel witnesses to give evidence.

But the move has left members of the panel "devastated" that they could face being removed from the inquiry.

Mrs May told MPs last week that she wanted the inquiry - which is without a chairman following the resignation of two previous appointees - to be given extra powers.

That could mean waiting for a chairman to be appointed for the inquiry panel, who would then request statutory powers, or setting up a new inquiry panel under statutory terms.

The third option of a Royal Commission - as some want - would not have the powers of a statutory inquiry under the 2005 Inquiries Act and would be ''legally more risky''.

Theresa May scraps panel for inquiry into child sex abuse, report says

The Guardian

Nadia Khomami
Saturday 20 December 2014

Theresa May is to scrap the panel for the independent inquiry into child sex abuse, it has been reported.

The home secretary wrote to each member of the panel to tell them she is considering turning it into a statutory inquiry, or setting up a fresh statutory inquiry or a Royal Commission, according to the Exaro News website.

The letter, which followed a meeting between May and panel members on Monday to discuss the future of the inquiry, added that any statutory inquiry panel would be newly appointed, and that existing panel members can apply for positions on the new panel.

She put this decision down to concerns raised about the panel by abuse survivors. May wrote: “As I said on Monday, I am currently considering these three options and I appreciate this has implications for the members of the panel.

“I should like to make clear that I appointed each and every one of you for your experience, your professionalism and your undoubted commitment.

Guam: When ordinary people do extraordinary things

The Worthy Adversary

Posted by Joelle Casteix on December 20, 2014

I hate watching sports … but I LOVE stories about sports.

The minutiae about how any particular game is played is usually lost on me. For me, going to a live sporting event is about the spectacle, not the stats or the rules.

But give me a documentary, movie, book, magazine article, or TV show about the PEOPLE in and behind the games, and I’m mesmerized. These stories draw me in because they are about ordinary people who do extraordinary things. These stories take place in a world—our world—where ANYTHING is possible. There are no victims and there is no pity. This is a world full of vision, enthusiasm, dreams, hope, love, and the value of tenacity.

Which brings me to a small island in the Western Pacific: Guam—an island full of ordinary people doing very extraordinary things. These people aren’t athletes—they are Catholics fighting to take back their church, their faith, and their reputations.

I went to Guam in 2010. Survivors on the island had asked me to come there and reach out to other survivors who felt like it was not safe to come forward and report. The Archbishop of Hagatna, Anthony Sablan Apuron—according to Catholics and critics—was perceived as a bully who scared and shamed victims into silence. So, for some sex abuse victims in the Archdiocese of Hagatna (the only diocese on Guam), coming forward and reporting abuse was tantamount to career and reputation suicide. For the rest, it was suicide.

So when Guam legislators passed a 2011 civil window that allowed sex abuse victims to come forward and use the civil courts to sue their abuser (but not the Archdiocese), victims didn’t come forward … it was just too risky.

Fast forward to 2014. This is where the story really begins. (Note: this story is SO complex and complicated, I know I’m going to miss some of the big points. But the story is still pretty darned juicy.)

Local Catholics, led by trail blazers such as Tim Rohr (a man Apuron had recruited to discredit me in 2010) and Fr. Matthew Blockley, decided that they had had enough. Apuron was pushing the Neocatechumenal Way, a lay movement within the church that according to John Allen, Jr., is “playing fast and loose with both Church teaching and the liturgical rules, fostering a cult of personality, and dividing parishes by insisting that members attend their own Saturday evening services rather than the usual Sunday Mass.”

Pope sacks Bertone, Cardinal Tauran new Camerlengo


(AGI) Vatican City, Dec. 20 - Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone is no longer Camerlengo of the Holy Church of Rome. Pope Francis has replaced him with Cardinal Jean Louis Tauran, the memorable Foreign Minister of Pope John Paul II and currently president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue.

Bertoni turned 80 last Dec. 2 and therefore could not eventually participate in a Conclave. As Protodeacon, Cardinal Tauran announced the election of Pope Francis on March 13, 2013.

During the last few month, he closely collaborated with the Pontiff, especially in cleaning up the Vatican's financial sector and the IOR Vatican bank in particular. Born in Bordeaux, Cardinal Tauran is now 71 years old.

Concern over Nestor child abuse case



A FORMER priest who was provided with a character reference by Tony Abbott while he stood trial for sexually abusing an altar boy had further complaints made against him.

A REPORT by the royal commission into child abuse said those complaints justified "serious reservations and concern" about the danger John Gerard Nestor posed to children and his suitability for ministry.

Nestor was a priest in the Wollongong diocese in NSW when he was charged and convicted of indecently assaulting a 15-year-old altar boy in 1996.

Mr Abbott, then a parliamentary secretary in the Howard government, described Nestor as a "beacon of humanity" in a character reference provided for his former seminary colleague.
Nestor was later acquitted on appeal.

Rome’s Scrutiny of American Nuns

New York Times

DEC. 20, 2014

Six years ago, in the midst of the scandal over child abuse by rogue Catholic priests, the Vatican shocked many of the laity by ordering a sweeping investigation into the behavior and fidelity of the 50,000 American nuns who quietly labor in hospitals, prisons and outposts of the nation’s impoverished. The inquiry, ordered by the church under Pope Benedict XVI, seemed a deliberate distraction from the abuse scandal, and was tinged with male chauvinism.

Now, under the more egalitarian Pope Francis, the inquiry has been concluded with a generally positive report that mainly praises the sisters and their works in words of gratitude and encouragement.

The report should help counter the fear and discouragement that many sisters felt when Rome ordered the inquiry into the community life and finances of the nation’s 350 women’s religious orders. Far from discouraging the social justice ministries that nuns have pioneered, the report urged the sisters to continue their work taking on “the structural causes of poverty.” It even quoted Francis’s call for “a more incisive female presence in the church.” No means for achieving that were suggested, though the sisterhood was a bastion of good works during the harrowing scandal that saw hundreds of men dispatched from the priesthood.

Unfortunately, there is a second, more ill-advised inquiry still to be completed — into whether the national leadership of the nuns has taken on what a ranking prelate termed “a certain secular mentality” and “a certain feminist spirit.” The inquiry was begun under Benedict when Vatican officials expressed concern that teachings on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood might have been criticized at leadership conferences of American nuns.


Road to Recovery

[Note: This event has been postponed.]

Hartford, CT Archdiocese has been informed of clergy sexual abuse by a deceased Hartford, CT priest, Fr. Vincent A. Brown, but refuses to acknowledge and validate the sexual abuse claim of the victim, Charles Mc Gilton, and help him heal

Hartford, CT Archdiocese, despite knowing about sexual allegations against the late Fr. Vincent A. Brown, has not ordered a public golf tournament named after Fr. Vincent A. Brown to be re-named

Fr. Vincent A. Brown, formerly assigned to St. Mary’s Parish, Branford, repeatedly sexually abused a minor child, Charles Mc Gilton, when Fr. Vincent A. Brown was assigned to St. Lawrence Parish in West Haven, CT

A media event and leafleting to alert St. Mary’s Parish, Branford, CT, the greater Connecticut area, and the general public of the Hartford Archdiocese’s unwillingness to help a sexual abuse victim of a Hartford Archdiocesan priest, the late Fr. Vincent A. Brown.

Sunday morning and afternoon, December 21, 2014 after the 7:00 am Mass until the end of the 12:15 pm Mass (and all Masses in between). Press conference will be held at 11:30 AM.

On the public sidewalk outside St. Mary’s Parish, 731 Main Street, Branford, CT, 203-488-1607

Charles Mc Gilton, the sexual abuse victim of Fr. Vincent A. Brown, from West Haven, CT; Dr. Robert M. Hoatson, President of Road to Recovery, Inc. a non-profit charity that advocates for and assists victims of sexual abuse and their families; and other supporters.

Charles Mc Gilton was a young boy when his family lived near and attended St. Lawrence Catholic Church in West Haven, CT. Charles Mc Gilton delivered newspapers to the rectory at St. Lawrence Church where Fr. Vincent A. Brown invited him in and repeatedly sexually abused him there. Fr. Vincent A. Brown also sexually abused Charles Mc Gilton in a local West Haven store where many of Fr. Vincent A. Brown’s parishioners and neighborhood friends gathered to eat and talk. Subsequently, Fr. Vincent A. Brown was transferred to St. Mary’s Parish in Branford, CT, where, today, a golf tournament, which raises thousands of dollars annually for the parish school, is named for Fr. Vincent A. Brown, held at a local elite country club, and supported by local Hartford media personalities, civic and Church leaders, and other celebrities. Demonstrators will call on the Hartford Archdiocese in the person of Archbishop Leonard Blair, the people of St. Mary’s Parish, Branford, and all people in the greater Hartford/New Haven region to acknowledge and validate Charles Mc Gilton’s allegations, apologize for the sexual abuse he endured, and provide him with the resources he needs to heal. Demonstrators will also demand that the name of Fr. Vincent A. Brown be removed from the annual St. Mary’s Parish Golf Tournament and any other honorary titles he holds.

Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., 862-368-2800
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, Boston, MA, 617-523-6250

Financial fraud uncovered at branch of Catholicism’s Franciscan order


By Philip Pullella December 20, 2014

A branch of the Franciscan religious order that runs churches and convents in 110 countries says fraud by some of its monks has plunged it into grave financial difficulty.

The Italian news magazine Panorama reported in its latest edition that tens of millions of euros of funds from the Order of Friars Minor (OFM) had been invested in offshore shell companies.

Brother Michael Perry, head of the OFM, said an internal investigation had uncovered “a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the order”.

In a letter posted on the OFM website on Wednesday, Perry said the order was in “grave, and I underscore grave, financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt”.

The letter, addressed to all friars, said the order’s general treasurer had resigned but gave no details.

The Zen Predator of the Upper East Side

The Atlantic

Nearly 50 years ago, a penniless monk arrived in Manhattan, where he began to build an unrivaled community of followers—and a reputation for sexual abuse. The ongoing accusations against him expose a dark corner of the Buddhist tradition.

Mark Oppenheimer
DECEMBER 18, 2014

I. “That was the beginning of the sangha”

Eido Shimano, a Zen Buddhist monk from Japan, arrived at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport on December 31, 1964, New Year’s Eve. He was 32 years old, and although he had just spent four years in Hawaii, part of the time as a university student, his English was poor. Besides his clothes, he brought with him only a small statue of the Buddha and a keisaku, the wooden stick a Zen teacher uses to thwack students whose posture sags during meditation. Before flying east, he had been offered temporary lodging by a couple who lived on Central Park West. Not long after he arrived—the very next day, according to some versions of the story—he began to build his sangha, his Zen community. He did this, at first, by walking the streets of New York. The followers just came.

“It was the middle of the 1960s, full of energy,” Shimano recalled when we met for lunch last year. “And all I did was simply walk Manhattan from top to the bottom. And in my Buddhist robe. And many people came. ‘What are you doing? Where are you going?’ So I said, ‘I am from Japan and doing zazen practice’”—Zen meditation. It was a kind of Buddhism, he told the curious New Yorkers. Now and again, somebody asked to tag along. Yes, Shimano told them. Of course. Before long, he had a small space to host meditation sessions, and all were invited. “Little by little, every single day, I walked entire Manhattan,” Shimano told me in his still-fractured English. “And every single day I picked up two or three people who were curious. And that was the beginning of the sangha.”

Within weeks, Shimano had an enthusiastic sangha of perhaps several dozen novices, who met daily for zazen. They rotated from one follower’s apartment to the next, learning to sit and meditate. One day a Canadian woman in her 60s, who had been sitting with Shimano every day, said she was returning to Canada, and she handed him an envelope. “I opened it, and there was a check for $10,000!” Shimano said. He used that money to rent a five-room apartment at 81st Street and West End Avenue. Very soon thereafter—this is still early 1965—a friend told him that he might try to affiliate his growing organization with the Zen Studies Society, which had been founded by D. T. Suzuki, the Columbia University instructor whose English-language books had helped popularize Buddhism in the United States. Suzuki had returned to Japan, and his society was now moribund. Shimano went to see the society’s lawyer, George Yamaoka. “I said to George, ‘I came here about the ZSS,’ and he said, ‘Would you like to join?’ ‘Yes!’ I just signed. And then he immediately resigned, and I became the only ZSS!”

Fr Lombardi’s ‘Ten Commandments’ for Catholic communications

Headlines from the Catholic World

Rome, Italy, Dec 19, 2014 / 03:01 pm (CNA/EWTN News).- “To communicate is to unify” is the first of the “Ten Words of Communication” that Fr. Federico Lombardi, director of the Holy See press office, described in a lecture given Nov. 24 at the Pontifical Salesian University in Rome.

Fr. Federico Lombardi was given an 'honoris causa' degree in social communication from the university, and in the lecture he held at ceremony he traced with passion the 25 years he has spent working in the Church’s communications, summing up all the teaching he had learned in Ten Commandments, which he called ‘Ten Messages.”

“There are people who think that conflict must be fed in order to make communication more dynamic. Let me stress that I am radically against this view; I hate and refuse this kind of communication. And this truly comes from my heart,” Fr. Lombardi said.

The first message is “communicating to unify,” and it is built on the background of the personal experience of Fr. Lombardi, who was appointed director of Vatican Radio in 1991, “on the day when the first bombs of the First Gulf War were lobbed.” ...

Fr. Lombardi then spoke about his experience as director of the Holy See press office, and of how much his work had been tried, especially in the cases of the clergy sex abuse scandal and of Vatican finances.

On the side of sex abuse scandal, Fr. Lombardi reminded that “Benedict XVI had spoken several times about the path of purification of the Church regarding these horrible signs of the presence of evil within herself.”

“Being on the frontline as a communicator permits and requires one to be involved in a very deep way in this path, and to take part in it trying to pay with your own personal suffering a little contribution to the huge price the Church has to pay off it,” Fr. Lombardi confessed.

And he stressed that the Seventh Message is “being ready, in solidarity with the community of the Church, to pay the often painful price of growing up in truth.”

Pastor accused of making unwanted sexual advances on man at lake


SEYMOUR, Ind. —A southern Indiana pastor accused of making sexual advances on a 27-year-old man near a lake is charged with battery.

Gaylard Williams, 59, is the pastor at the Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour.

On Tuesday morning, he appeared at the Jackson County Superior Court.

According to court documents, the victim told police that on Friday, Williams approached his vehicle that was parked at Cypress Lake.

He said that when he rolled down his window, Williams grabbed and squeezed his genitals, and then requested that he perform oral sex.

Anti-LGBT pastor arrested for grabbing man’s genitals at Indiana park: police

The Raw Story

19 DEC 2014

A southern Indiana minister who preaches against homosexuality was accused of soliciting gay sex at a park.

Gaylard Williams, pastor of Praise Cathedral Church of God in Seymour, was charged with battery after a man said he grabbed his genitals last week at Cypress Lake.

A man parked at the lake Dec. 12 said the 59-year-old Williams asked him to roll down his vehicle window, then reached in and squeezed his genitals and offered to perform oral sex.

The man told the pastor he was “barking up the wrong tree” and acted like he was reaching for a gun.

He said Williams fled, but he wrote down his license plate number and called police.

Officers said Williams had gay adult material in his vehicle when they stopped him later.

Trial set for church leader who faces sex abuse charges



A former Sheffield church leader facing sex abuse charges is scheduled to go to trial next month.

The Alabama Bureau of Investigation arrested Oliver Brazelle back in January.

He was working as the minister of music at First United Methodist Church when an investigation by the church found inappropriate behavior between Brazelle and three male victims.

Church leaders turned over their findings to police, who charged Brazelle with sodomy and sexual abuse.

After scathing sex abuse report, Bob Jones calls itself 'very safe'


December 19, 2014 4:45PM ET
by Claire Gordon @clairedon Google+

The blistering report on how Bob Jones University has handled sexual abuse reports is still warm off the presses and some victims are already skeptical that the university is willing to acknowledge the seriousness of what it exposed. They say BJU's response reeks of damage control.

In its two-year independent investigation, the nonprofit Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment found that sex abuse victims on the Greenville, South Carolina, campus were often urged to find the sin behind their rapes, pushed to repent for any pleasure they might have experienced during their assaults, and encouraged to reach out to their abusers and express forgiveness or ask forgiveness from them. The university's counselors were unlicensed and had no formal training in psychology.

Some students, the GRACE report found, were punished for reporting their abuse. Almost half said they were advised not to go the police. The 301-page dossier also paints a campus culture where sex abuse victims were made to feel like "damaged goods." In the past year, America Tonight has interviewed five former Bob Jones students who reported their abuse to school officials and all say they have yet to recover from how BJU treated them.
Thumbnail image for Report: Bob Jones University shamed victims of sexual assault
Report: Bob Jones University shamed victims of sexual assault

For decades, Bob Jones University, a self-described fundamentalist Christian college, has urged sexual abuse victims not to go to the police and counseled them to repent for the blame it said they share, according to an extensive independent investigation published last week.

Sodomy with a minor, oral copulation with a minor alleged

Highland Community News

On Monday, Dec. 15, 2014, at approximately 1 p.m., deputies from the Victorville Sheriff's Station began investigating a report of unlawful sexual intercourse with a boy, now 17. The reporting party, the victim's father, called the station to report that his son disclosed he had a year long sexual relationship with Joseph Kealoha, 26, a volunteer group leader at the High Desert Church in Victorville. Kealoha's role was to mentor and assist adolescents in small study groups.

The San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department's Specialized Investigations Division, Crimes against Children Detail took over the investigation. Upon further investigation, detectives learned that the victim met Kealoha while attending High Desert Church, specifically during a youth beach trip in August of 2013. Shortly after meeting, Kealoha began a dating relationship with the minor which ultimately led to sex acts. According to statements provided by the victim, these acts occurred monthly throughout the duration of the relationship, which came to an end in September 2014.

In addition to Kealoha's volunteer position at the High Desert Church, he is also employed as an instructional aid at Morgan Kincaid Preperatory School, as well as a program leader at Bradach Elementary School's "Think Together" program, both schools being part of the Adelanto School District. Kealoha was subsequently relieved of his duties at the church and the schools.

Worcester-area filmmakers respond to Sony decision nixing screening of 'The Interview'

Telegram & Gazette


WORCESTER — Hours after President Barack Obama said Sony Pictures "made a mistake" by shelving "Interview," Worcester-area filmmakers and movie lovers weighed in on the company's decision to abandon releasing the film.

Andrea Ajemian, a filmmaker who has set several of her films in Worcester County and who is a Worcester native, said the decision by Sony to pull the film was "mind-blowing." ...

Worcester-based filmmaker George "Skip" Shea, along with Ms. Ajemeian, said he would like to see "The Interview" released online.

"In a lot of ways, Sony's hands were tied because it appears the cinemas refused to show it and if they're pulling distributions, then (the film's producers) don't have much leverage," he said.

Mr. Shea noted that as a survivor of sexual abuse allegedly by priests, he has aired films with subject matter critical of the Roman Catholic Church. He's now in production with his current film that also touches on the topic, titled "Trinity," and says Sony's call now sets a dangerous precedent.

"It's very sad to me that regardless of the merit of the art (of 'The Interview') this has happened," he said. "How often are we going to cave to this stuff?"



Friday, December 19, 2014

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The ABC7 I-Team reports that the sex abuse investigation of a popular North Side priest has been closed and no charges will be filed.

Since April, Fr. Michael O'Connell of St. Alphonsus Church in Lakeview has been under investigation for allegedly abusing a boy while serving at a different church. O'Connell has always maintained his innocence.

The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests says it is disappointed and wants O'Connell suspended.

Victorian education official Sonia Sharp sidelined over UK sex abuse cases

Herald Sun


AN education official who worked at a UK council slammed for not protecting children from a plague of sexual exploitation has been sidelined from her Victorian job.

Dr Sonia Sharp has been serving as Victoria’s deputy secretary of early childhood and school education but has been moved to the Department of Health and Human Services while her recruitment is reviewed.

Education Minister James Merlino has previously said Dr Sharp should never have been hired - but now he is in government, he has stopped short of firing her.

From 2005-08 Dr Sharp was director of children’s services at Rotherham Borough Council, where an estimated 1400 children - some as young as 11 - were sexually exploited between 1997 and 2013.

Daly City pastor to face one count of child molestation at trial

Mercury News

Bay City News Service

POSTED: 12/19/2014

DALY CITY - A Daly City pastor at a church in San Francisco will face trial for one count of child molestation, a San Mateo superior court judge ruled Thursday.

Venije Singkoh, 70, pleaded not guilty to three counts of child molestation, said San Mateo County District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe. San Mateo Superior Court Judge Donald Ayoob ruled today that Singkoh would face only one count at trial.

Wagstaffe said the judge determined that two less serious allegations involving the pastor kissing young girls at the church on the cheek and one kiss on the lips didn't fall under "lewd intent."

Prosecutors said Singkoh is a pastor at the Indonesian Pentecostal Foursquare Church in San Francisco. On Feb. 7, a 9-year-old girl told her parents he molested her on multiple occasions over the past year by placing her on his lap and kissing her inappropriately.

December 19, 2014

Jerry Slevin on Pope Francis's "Huge Papal Mistake" in Not Placing Father Thomas Doyle on Papal Abuse Commission


William D. Lindsey

At his Christian Catholicism site, Jerry Slevin argues that Pope Francis is making "a huge papal mistake" and "exhibiting his papal fallibility" by passing over Father Thomas Doyle, one of the leading authorities on the Catholic abuse crisis, as Francis adds new members to his commisison on abuse. Jerry points to Tom Doyle's extensive qualifications to serve the church on this papal commission:

Fr. Doyle is a Dominican priest with a doctorate in canon law and five separate master’s degrees. He sacrificed a rising career under Cardinal Laghi at the USA's Vatican Embassy to become an outspoken advocate for Catholic Church priest sexual abuse victims. Since 1984, when he first became involved with the issue of sexual abuse of children by Catholic clergy while serving at the Embassy, he has become an expert in the canonical and pastoral dimensions of this problem—working directly with victims, their families, accused priests, bishops, and other high-ranking Church officials.

Doyle has interviewed over 2,000 victims of clerical sexual abuse in the USA alone, and has been the only priest to testify in court in over 200 cases as to the legal liability of the Church. He has developed policies and procedures for dealing with cases of sexual abuse by the clergy for dioceses and religious orders in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.

As an expert in this area, Doyle has delivered lectures and seminars for clergy and lay groups throughout the U.S. In 1989 he appeared as an expert witness before the legislature of Pennsylvania concerning that State’s child protective legislation. As an Air Force major stationed in Germany, and who also served as a military chaplain in Iraq, he holds 16 military awards and decorations for distinguished service.

Doyle currently serves as a consultant/court expert in clerical abuse cases throughout the U.S., Canada, Ireland, Israel and the United Kingdom. The Voice of the Faithful honored Doyle with their first Priest of Integrity Award in 2002. In recognition of his advocacy work for the victims of clerical sexual abuse, he has also received the Cavallo Award for Moral Courage (1992) and the Isaac Hecker Award from the Paulist Fathers (2003). In June of 2003 Doyle was also issued an official commendation from the Dominican Fathers for his "prophetic work in drawing attention to clergy sexual abuse and for advocating the rights of victims and abusers."

How American nuns prevailed over the Vatican


Jason Berry

Trailed by bitter controversy, a six-year investigation of American nuns ended Tuesday with the release of a Vatican report that praised the religious sisters “for all that they contribute to the church’s evangelizing mission.”

The document released by Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life – a major Vatican office – drew on dozens of interviews in convents and religious houses which disproved allegations that caused Cardinal Franc Rodé, as prefect of the congregation in 2008, to order an investigation into “a certain secular mentality ... and perhaps also a certain ‘feminist’ spirit,” as Rodé told Vatican Radio at the time.

One of the more conservative cardinals in the Vatican, Rodé was not at the Tuesday press conference at which his successor, Brazilian Cardinal João Braz de Aviz, struck a tone of harmony with the nuns.

Within the politics of the Roman Curia, Braz de Abriz has also emerged as an ally of Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR), the American organization representing superiors of 80 percent of the orders of religious sisters. A separate Vatican office, Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, had imposed an overseer, Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain, the vet the group’s speakers and publications.

“The Vatican realized they messed up this situation and they are trying to mend fences,” Sister Christine Schenk of Cleveland told The GroundTruth Project. ...

As the investigation Rodé launched made news, Vatican officials saw the blowback in media coverage which cast the nuns, working on the margins with the poor, confronting cold male bureaucrats in Rome.

Rodé was an unstinting supporter of Father Marcial Maciel, a notorious pedophile and founder of the Legion of Christ, an order enmeshed in lawsuits in America for duplicitous fundraising. ...

Cardinal Rodé, in an interview with this writer in his Vatican apartment two years ago, said that the call to investigate had come from Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as Boston archbishop in 2002 amid the abuse crisis, and soon found redemption in Rome as pastor of a great basilica. The other prelate behind the call, said Rodé, was Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore.

In 2003, Lori approved a $21 million abuse victims settlement involving several priests. Voice of the Faithful criticized him for allowing an accused monsignor to stay in his parish until he resigned, facing 2011 sex harassment allegations from a female church worker.

That double standard in leadership – bishops stained by scandal in the abuse cases, accusing nuns of bad faith – may be at its eclipse.

Franciscan religious order in 'grave' financial crisis

St. Louis Post-Dispatch

ROME (AP) — The main Franciscan religious order in the Roman Catholic Church is in a financial crisis because of alleged wrongdoing from within and outside its ranks.

The head of the Order of Friars Minor said in a statement from Rome that questionable financial activities by some friars and outsiders have caused a grave situation that threatens the financial stability of the religious order.

The Rev. Michael Perry says the order's financial oversight was either too weak or was compromised.

The general treasurer in the order's administrative offices has resigned. The order has notified church and civil authorities and is reviewing its finances going back to 2003. Perry revealed the crisis in a statement posted Wednesday on the order's website.

Milwaukee archdiocese reaches $2.3M settlement with insurers; half proposed for abuse victims

Milwaukee Business Journal

Rich Kirchen
Senior Reporter-
Milwaukee Business Journal

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee has reached a $2.3 million settlement with insurers in the archdiocese bankruptcy case, and half of that amount would go to a proposed settlement of allegations of clergy sexual abuse.

The latest settlement would bring to $5.15 million the total amount available to people who have sought compensation. The new settlement figure was included in a motion filed Wednesday and is subject to approval by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Susan Kelley in Milwaukee.

"Our relentless pursuit of insurance carriers has brought $10 million into the (reorganization) plan," archdiocese spokesman Jerry Topczewski told the Milwaukee Business Journal Friday.

Lloyd's of London previously agreed to pay $8 million to the archdiocese with $4 million of that planned as payments to clergy abuse victims and $4 million to pay the administrative costs of the case. The new development involves a settlement with OneBeacon Insurance Co. and Stonewall Insurance Co.

Insurers agree to pay archdiocese additional $2.3 million

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

By Annysa Johnson of the Journal Sentinel Dec. 19, 2014

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee has reached an agreement with its insurance companies for an additional $2.3 million, bringing to $10.3 million the amount its insurers will pay to help the archdiocese emerge from its nearly 4-year-old bankruptcy.

Under the terms of a motion filed in the bankruptcy this week, half of the $10.3 million would go to pay administrative costs — primarily legal fees that have now topped $16 million. Half would go into a trust for 128 of the bankruptcy's creditors, men and women who were sexually abused by diocesan priests as children.

The settlement brings the amount available to those survivors to $5.15 million, from $4 million in the archdiocese's original plan of reorganization.

Victims and their attorneys blasted the settlement as inadequate, and said they would object to the plan in court.

"All the insurance settlements here shut survivors out of the process and are taking money from survivors and putting it in the pockets of the bankruptcy attorneys," said Michael Finnegan, whose St. Paul, Minn., firm represents most of the 575 men and women who have filed claims in the bankruptcy alleging they were molested by priests and others connected to the church.

Judge rejects shock probation for molester

The Courier-Journal

Matthew Glowicki, The Courier-Journal December 19, 2014

A judge has denied the request of convicted child molester Rev. James Schook to be released from prison after serving six months of a 15-year sentence.

Schook, 67, was found guilty in April of molesting a 13-year-old alter boy in the 1970s. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison on three counts of sodomy and one count of indecent and immoral practices.

Jefferson Circuit Court Judge Mitch Perry denied the motion for shock probation ahead of a hearing scheduled for Friday.

"The Defendant shall remain in custody to serve out his sentence in accordance with the law," Perry wrote in the order denying Schook's request.

Milwaukee archdiocese seeks settlement that would double money for abuse survivors

National Catholic Reporter

Marie Rohde | Dec. 19, 2014

The Milwaukee archdiocese has asked a bankruptcy judge to approve a settlement with three insurance companies, a move that would more than double the $4 million the archdiocese has offered the survivors of clergy sexual abuse.

The archdiocese and the insurance companies -- London Market, OneBeacon, and Stonewall -- have been negotiating for more than four years and entered into mediation several times. According to the proposed agreement, the insurance companies will buy back policies for a total of $10.3 million. Half of the money will go to a fund for victims, and the other half will go toward legal fees that now amount to more than $18 million, some of which has already been paid.

The settlement agreement will not be finalized until approved by the bankruptcy judge, Susan V. Kelley, and is likely to be opposed by survivors who have filed claims, according to a lawyer and a survivor representative. Kelley could approve the agreement without the go-ahead, but it is unlikely, as no other diocesan or religious order bankruptcies have proceeded in the face of such opposition.

Jerry Topczewski, a spokesman for the Milwaukee archdiocese, said in a statement: "Because of the archdiocese's relentless pursuit of a settlement with insurance carriers, it has brought more than $10 million into the plan of reorganization which benefits abuse survivors and it brings us another step closer to a resolution of the Chapter 11 proceeding."

Franciscan Minister General to Order: We're broke, due to questionable financial activities of the recent past

Rorate Caeli

From the letter of the Franciscan Minister General, Brother Michael Perry, OFM:

In an effort to live as children of the light, the General Definitorium and I wish to bring to light a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself. The matter involves our financial stability and the patrimony of the Order. While our first concern has and remains verifying the nature, extent, and impact of what has occurred, we also recognize the significant role that external actors, people who are not members of the Order, have played in creating this grave situation.

In September 2014, the General Definitorium initiated a series of steps in order to conduct an internal inquiry into the financial dealings of the Office of the General Treasurer. A sub-commission within the General Definitorium was created to serve as an advisory group. Together we charted a course to collect reliable information, identify potential concerns, and examine all available documents in order to reach well-informed decisions about how best to proceed to guarantee the financial soundness of the Order in a manner consistent with our Franciscan values and way of life. We immediately sought advice from a highly regarded group of lawyers who continue to work for the Order. Competent ecclesiastical authorities also were informed of our concerns and have been updated on a regular basis. In addition, Provincials and Custodes in a number of the Franciscan Conferences also were provided with a brief, albeit incomplete, explanation of our situation and were requested to demonstrate their solidarity with the General Curia through prayer and in other significant ways. I regret that not all Provincials and Custodes were contacted. I ask of all Provincials and Custodes your understanding and for a financial contribution to help address the current situation, which involves also the repayment of significant debts. ...

Right, "without the full knowledge" -- of those who should have full knowledge... It is just so nice that the predecessor of the current Minister General for ten years (!), current Abp. José ("Call me Pepe") Rodríguez Carballo, was made Secretary and the personal man of the Pope in the Congregation for Religious. The same man who has been a key player in the ongoing dismantling of the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate.

Quite a promising start for the Year of Consecrated Life!

(Note: both in Italy and in many other places, large orders such as the Friars Minor also receive massive amounts of public funds, both through tax breaks and direct government contributions to their educational, healthcare, and charitable activities. Will authorities in Italy and elsewhere act accordingly considering the shady financial dealings of the past? As with the ongoing abuse scandal, will the intervention of Caesar be necessary to bring justice to this situation?)

Franciscan order embroiled in financial crisis

Catholic Herald (UK)

by Madeleine Teahan posted Friday, 19 Dec 2014

The Franciscans is facing a “grave situation” following an internal investigation into the state of its financial affairs.

In a letter to the order, first reported by Rorate Caeli , Brother Michael A Perry, Minister General of the Order of Friars Minor (OFM), said: “I wish to bring to light a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself. The matter involves our financial stability and the patrimony of the Order. While our first concern has and remains verifying the nature, extent, and impact of what has occurred, we also recognise the significant role that external actors, people who are not members of the Order, have played in creating this grave situation.”

Brother Perry said that one of the key findings of the investigation involves a “number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the Order without the full knowledge or consent of the former and current General Definitorium.”

He continued by saying that as a result of this finding the order had involved the civil authorities. He said: “Because of the scope and magnitude of these activities, they have placed the financial stability of the General Curia at grave risk. These questionable activities also involve people who are not Franciscan but who appear to have played a central role. For these reasons, the General Definitorium, working in unanimity, has decided to call upon assistance from civil authorities to take up this matter.”

'Questionable' financial activities leave Franciscans in serious debt

Catholic News Service

By Carol Glatz
Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Ineffective budgetary oversight and "questionable" financial activities have plunged the Order of Friars Minor into significant debt and an extremely serious financial situation, its minister general said.

Following an internal investigation into the order's finances, U.S. Franciscan Father Michael Perry, the superior, announced to all members of the order that its general curia "finds itself in grave, and I underscore 'grave,' financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt."

He attributed the situation to unapproved financial activity by some friars as well as non-Franciscans and said the curia had retained lawyers and contacted civil authorities.

The announcement was published as an open letter on the order's website Dec. 17. The announcement included a plea to Franciscan superiors around the world for "your understanding and for a financial contribution to help address the current situation, which involves also the repayment of significant debts."

An investigation begun in September discovered that "the systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management," Father Perry wrote.

Franciscan Order reveals dodgy finances

Deutsche Welle

The Order of Friars Minor (OFM), the Catholic Church's most prominent brotherhood of Franciscan friars, has said dubious dealings have led the OFM into serious financial trouble. An investigation is underway.

In an open letter posted on the OFM website Brother Michael Perry, head of the OFM, revealed that the results of an internal investigation showed the order was in serious financial difficulty and deeply in debt. Shady dealings by some friars with fiduciary responsibilities had put the order's finances at risk.

The Italian news magazine Panorama reported in its latest edition, under the headline "Franciscans at the cusp of bankruptcy" (Francescani sull'orlo della bancarotta), that tens of millions of euros of the OFM's funds had been invested in offshore shell companies. Some of the money apparently went missing in connection with the purchase and renovation of a hotel in central Rome.

Perry's letter, addressed to all the Order's friars, said the order's general treasurer, Giancarlo Lati, had resigned, but gave no details.

Perry's letter identified "three important elements" as having emerged from the OFM's internal investigation into the order's finances.

"First, the General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave' financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt," Brother Perry wrote.

Franciscan order of monks inquiry uncovers major financial fraud

The Guardian (UK)

Stephanie Kirchgaessner in Rome
Friday 19 December 2014

The Franciscan order of monks has announced it is in grave financial difficulty after the discovery of a massive fraud.

An internal investigation begun four months ago has found that some monks who ran the Franciscans’ endowment engaged in “questionable financial activities” that have emptied the 800-year-old order’s coffers.

The Franciscans are a community within the Catholic church who follow St Francis of Assisi, who was known for advocating a life of poverty.

The order’s financial woes were disclosed in a rare open letter published this week by American monk, Michael Perry, the Franciscans’ minister general.

He painted a desperate picture of an order whose viability is in doubt and facing a “significant burden of debt” as a result of the deception. He also cast blame outside the church. “These questionable activities also involve people who are not Franciscan but who appear to have played a central role,” he said in the letter.

Franciscan order of friars investigation finds millions of euros missing

Telegraph (UK)

By Nick Squires, Rome
19 Dec 2014

It was founded 800 years ago by St Francis of Assisi, whose name was taken by the current Pope, but the Franciscan order of friars has found itself mired in a financial scandal allegedly involving fraud and embezzlement of tens of millions of euros.

A branch of the Roman Catholic order had invested some of its money in offshore shell companies based in Switzerland, which had in turn been involved in arms and drugs trafficking, Italian media reported.

A three-month-long internal investigation has found extensive financial irregularities at the heart of the Rome-based order, which has around 14,000 members worldwide and owns churches and convents in more than 100 countries.

Michael Perry, the American head of the Order of Friars Minor, took the unusual step of writing an open letter to friars and monks to inform them that the historic order now finds itself in a "grave situation", with millions of euros believed to be missing from its accounts.

He said the General Curia, the governing body of the order, "finds itself in grave, and I underscore 'grave', financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt."

Francescani sull’orlo della bancarotta


Ignazio Ingrao

Lo scandalo è scoppiato nel mese di ottobre e anche il Papa lo è venuto a sapere: la procura svizzera avrebbe sequestrato alcuni depositi della congregazione dei frati minori francescani, per decine di milioni di euro, perché investiti in società finite sotto inchiesta per traffici illeciti, si parla addirittura di armi e droga. Gli investimenti risalgono al periodo in cui era superiore dei frati minori José Rodriguez Carballo, oggi segretario della Congregazione per i religiosi. Sotto accusa l’ex economo generale, padre Giancarlo Lati, che è stato fatto dimettere, e alcuni consulenti. Il sequestro dei fondi, gli interessi passivi da pagare e la perdita di una parte del patrimonio per investimenti spericolati, hanno messo in ginocchio i frati tanto da costringere il nuovo ministro generale, padre Michael Perry a recarsi negli Stati Uniti e in altre province a chiedere una colletta per aiutare la Curia generalizia.

I frati hanno tentato per settimane di tenere segreto questo scandalo. Finché Panorama lo ha scoperto e ha chiesto ufficialmente a mons. Carballo, padre Perry e al nuovo economico, padre Silvio de la Fuente di commentare queste informazioni. Da tutti è arrivato un secco “no comment”, forse nella speranza che nulla ancora sarebbe trapelato all’esterno. Una volta appreso che sul numero di Panorama in edicola sarebbe stata diffusa la notizia, il ministro generale è stato costretto a riconoscere ufficialmente l’accaduto, con una lettera pubblica che è un’ammissione ufficiale del dissesto ma non può essere presa ad esempio di trasparenza. O quanto meno è un esempio di trasparenza “obbligata” dall’esterno.

Franciscan Order On Verge Of Bankruptcy After Financial Fraud Uncovered

Huffington Post

Religion News Service | By Josephine McKenna
Posted: 12/19/2014

VATICAN CITY (RNS) One of the largest Franciscan religious orders, founded on the humble teachings of St. Francis of Assisi more than 800 years ago, announced it is on the brink of bankruptcy after admitting some of its monks embezzled funds from its accounts.

The Italian news magazine Panorama on Friday (Dec. 19) reported that tens of millions of dollars were missing from the Order of Friars Minor and had been invested in offshore companies.

Panorama also claimed Swiss prosecutors had seized Franciscan accounts in Switzerland because the account holders had allegedly invested in illegal operations that could include arms and drug trafficking.

Brother Michael Perry, the American head of the order, said an internal inquiry was begun in September and revealed “a number of questionable financial activities that were conducted by friars entrusted with the care of the patrimony of the order.”

In a letter posted on the order’s website, Perry said the order was in “grave, and I underscore grave, financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt.”

Adam’s Ribs Strike Back ! Women vs. Pope Francis

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

1. Pope Francis likes to quip about women as Adam’s ribs. a demeaning allusion to the Genesis myth about Eve’s origin. Two modern “Adam’s ribs”, more like Joan of Arc types, and some American Sisters, are striking back at the “Argentinian Adam”. There is some overdue justice here, as Pope Francis often seems to treat women still mostly as moronic breeding machines. Ironically, then, that it is courageous women like the brave whistle blowing canon lawyer and former Minneapolis Archdiocesan chancellor, Jennifer Haselberger, and Minnesota Public Radio’s (MPR) tenacious reporter, Madeleine Baran, that are functioning as modern Joan of Arc’s to lance the papal veil, or the Wizard of Oz’s curtain, pick your metaphor.

2. For Haselberger’s extraordinary affidavit that she recently refers to in new comments ”after my affidavit was released in July of 2014 “, please click on this link to read it — you will be stunned! This affidavit is one of the most searing single statements ever by a Catholic Church insider and canon lawyer, alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St. Paul/Minneapolis. She has made the most detailed claims yet, as a former insider no less, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the U.S. bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse.

3. And Madeleine Baran and her MPR team were just praised lavishly by Columbia University’s School of Journalism for MPR’s exhaustive coverage of the Minneapolis scandal that has earned them the very prestigious duPont Award with the following description:

4. MPR News: “Betrayed by Silence”

A heartbreaking, exhaustive investigation of sexual abuse and cover up in the Twin Cities Catholic Church

MPR News’ yearlong investigation exposed how leaders of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis continued to cover up abuse of children by priests, despite decades of assurances that the Catholic Church was safe. Reporters found that bishops provided secret payments to pedophiles, hid the names of abusers, failed to notify police of alleged sex crimes and didn’t warn parishioners of priests’ sexual misconduct. The report included everything from interactive databases of allegations against priests and where they served, and a display of internal church documents, to police records, court records, and victim settlement documents all showing extensive cover ups. MPR’s reporting has led to numerous actions to protect the public such as the opening of a criminal investigation of the archdiocese itself, resignations, forced retirements, leaves of absences, firings, and the release of names of abusive priests. The investigative team overcame the challenges rife in reporting this type of story: understanding the church’s complex structure and legal system; verifying old events and claims; the lack of documents available digitally; and the insular, private world of the priesthood.

Wollongong Bishop censured over priest's defrocking

Illawarra Mercury

By ANGELA THOMPSON Dec. 19, 2014

Wollongong Catholic Bishop Peter Ingham erred by not making public the reasons behind the 2008 defrocking of priest John Gerard Nestor, the Royal Commission into Child Sex Abuse has found.

In a damning set of nine findings handed down on Friday, the royal commission takes aim at the Catholic Church and some of its officials for not making notes of potentially incriminating internal meetings with Nestor, and for the five years it took for an internal appeal process to run its course.

The royal commission further found the decision by some clergy to have Nestor publicly participate in church services "undermined" the efforts of other priests to protect children.

Nestor was convicted of aggravated indecent assault in 1997, and acquitted seven months later.

He denied the central allegation in the case against him, that he slept on the same mattress as a 15-year-old altar boy.

He was defrocked by decree of the Pope in 2008, after further allegations surfaced and after long periods on administrative leave.

Polskie śledztwo ws. byłego arcybiskupa Józefa Wesołowskiego zostało zawieszone

Polski Radio

Śledztwo w sprawie podejrzanego o pedofilię Józefa Wesołowskiego zawieszone. Taką decyzję podjęła Prokuratura Okręgowa w Warszawie.

Powodem jest utrudniona współpraca ze śledczymi z Dominikany. Polski hierarcha pełnił tam funkcję nuncjusza apostolskiego. - Strona dominikańska nie odpowiedziała na wnioski polskiej prokuratury o pomoc prawną, nie mamy informacji kiedy zostaną one zrealizowane - wyjaśnia w rozmowie z Informacyjną Agencją Radiową Przemysław Nowak, rzecznik Prokuratury Okręgowej w Warszawie.
Dodał, że decyzja jedynie zawiesza bieg postępowania i nie rozstrzyga o jego istocie.

Od września - przez dwa miesiące - Józef Wesołowski przebywał w areszcie domowym w Watykanie. Na początku grudnia areszt się skończył i były nuncjusz może swobodnie poruszać się za Spiżową Bramą.

Poland suspends paedophilia investigation against archbishop

The News


Poland’s public prosecutor suspended an investigation into statutory rape charges against Roman Catholic Archbishop Jozef Wesolowski, the former papal nuncio to the Dominican Republic.

Blaming lack of cooperation from the law enforcement authorities in the Dominican Republic, where the alleged sex abuse of minors took place, the Warsaw prosecutors announced suspension of the investigation on Friday.

„The Dominican side failed to respond to the requests from the Polish prosecutors for legal help and we have no information when they will be met,” a spokesperson for the prosecutor’s office told Polish Radio.

The archbishop, who allegedly abused dozens of children during his spell as the nuncio, or the papal ambassador to the Dominican Republic, is currently under home arrest in the Vatican.

2014: A year of positive changes…and challenges

Religion News Service - Rhymes with Religion

Boz Tchividjian | Dec 19, 2014

As we arrive on the doorstep of another Christmas and 2014 comes to a close, I have spent some time thinking about these past twelve months and what I have witnessed as many faith communities finally begin to understand and address the many difficult issues related to child sexual abuse. Each step forward brings a new set of challenges that I believe give us much to look forward to in 2015.
Here are just a very few examples:

A conservative Protestant denomination adopted one of the strongest public statements on child protection by any religious denomination or community. Passing the statement was only the beginning. The challenge forward will be whether these words will actually propel faith communities to action in transforming their understanding and approach to child sexual abuse. Much to look forward to in 2015.

A powerful documentary brought to light allegations of systematic abuse and neglect of children inside a large and well-known Christian community. Making this amazing film was only the beginning. The challenge forward will be whether faith communities will embrace these brave voices as agents of change in creating cultures that better protect little ones and have no tolerance for those who hurt them. Much to look forward to in 2015.

A well-known fundamentalist institution requested an independent Christian organization to investigate its responses to sexual abuse disclosures made by students. Not only did this school voluntarily initiate this investigation, but also it agreed for the results to be made public. By voluntarily engaging in this independent and transparent process, this institution has set an historical and Gospel-centered precedent for Christendom and the watching world. Inviting the investigation and publicizing its results is only the beginning. The challenge forward for this institution and every other community that professes to follow Jesus will be to learn how to better love and comfort the afflicted, while implementing changes that value, protect, and serve the vulnerable. Much to look forward to in 2015.

Vatican Report on U.S. Nuns: Valuable Commentary by Joan Chittister, Christine Schenck, Sandra Schneiders, and Tom Fox


William D. Lindsey

Some brief excerpts of responses to the Vatican report on American women religious that have struck me as well worth reading:

Joan Chittister maintains that the lingering questions about why this witch hunt took place and what role women are to have in the church point to the following conclusion:

These are the questions that will make real both the concern of the universal church for the development of women religious and for the development of the male church itself.

Christine Schenck reminds us of some telling details about what Rome immediately demanded of American nuns when the investigation was sprung on them:

At first, each community was required to submit detailed financial reports of assets, liabilities and cash flow along with lists of all the properties they owned. Rome also wanted to know each sister's age, her address, and her ministry. (This is especially puzzling since the Vatican seems to have had difficulty keeping track of whole orders of sisters, let alone individuals. Some communities were completely overlooked in mailings about the apostolic visitation.)

Clerical child sex abuse has nothing whatever to do with celibacy

Catholic Herald

by William Oddie posted Friday, 19 Dec 2014

It’s just as bad in the Church of England, and worse in society at large

“Last month”, according to The Independent newspaper on Tuesday, “the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, said he dealt with issues of child sex abuse on a daily basis (my emphasis) and he anticipated that more ‘bad stories’ would emerge. He said: ‘I would love to say there weren’t, but I expect there are.’ He told the BBC that it was ‘becoming clearer and clearer that for many, many years things were not dealt with as they should [have been]’.”

Well, he has one consolation: the issue will not be clouded and confused, as it has been in the Catholic Church for years, by the non-issue of the marital status of the clergy involved. Most of them are married. This particular story had homed in on the now former Bishop of Gloucester (married, with four daughters) who had resigned suddenly after he was “placed at the centre of” a police inquiry over allegations of indecent assault on a child more than 30 years ago. The bishop had stepped down after nearly a decade as bishop on Friday citing “personal reasons”; these turned out to be that in the parish in south London where he was a curate in 1976, he is alleged to have been involved in “indecent assault on a child said to have occurred between 1980 and 1981”.

Next to THAT story, I place another, from Australia, where a report by something called the Truth, Justice and Healing Council (groan) has found (as in the Church of England) that “some Church institutions and their leaders turned a blind eye to what was going on for years”. Unlike the Church of England, however, the “Council” gave a possible reason for its clergy’s aberrant behaviour: they weren’t simply doing something inherently bad and sinful (and for which there is NO CONCEIVABLE EXCUSE): they were under a particular pressure. Guess what?

IL- No charges for accused priest

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Friday, Dec. 19 2014

Statement by Barbara Blaine of Chicago, president of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( 312 399 4747, SNAPblaine@gmail.com )

No child sex charges are going to be filed against Fr. Michael W. O’Connell, who is still on the job today in a parish despite allegations by two men that he sexually abused them as children. We’re disappointed in this decision and urge Archbishop Blase Cupich to honor his pledges to keep kids safe by suspending O’Connell.

We’re deeply saddened that Cupich, who talks such a good game about abuse, is recklessly keeping O’Connell around vulnerable families. We were equally saddened – but less surprised - that then-Cardinal Francis George did the same – for months - despite the two accusers and a pending criminal investigation into the allegations.

In a disturbing violation of church abuse policy, both George and Cupich let O’Connell claim to “self-monitor” by voluntarily keeping himself away from children in his parish.

Two weeks ago, we asked Cupich to:

1) immediately suspend O’Connell from his post at St. Alphonsus parish,

2) discipline all archdiocesan staff who have let him stay in the parish,

3) attend a “town hall meeting” we are holding about the troubling situation, and

4) personally visit St. Alphonsus and beg anyone who may have information that might prove or disprove crimes or misdeeds by Fr. O’Connell to call police.

Today, for the safety of children, we renew those requests.

This week, on Tuesday, we were told by the Executive Director of Cook County Department of Corrections, Cara Smith, that the investigation by the sheriff’s police department into the allegations against Fr. O’Connell is closed unless new information is brought forward. We understand that most child predators, especially clergy child predators, are tough to prosecute, in part because they are very shrewd, cunning, well-educated and well-spoken. We also understand that the bar for criminal prosecution is quite high.

But this decision doesn’t mean that Fr. O’Connell is innocent. Nor does it mean that Cupich should continue to gamble with the safety of children.

Here’s more background information about this troubling situation:

Fr. O’Connell was temporarily suspended in December 2013 after the archdiocese received an allegation of sexual misconduct involving a boy at Our Lady of the Woods in Orland Park years earlier. In April of this year, Cardinal George reinstated Fr. O’Connell even though the Cook County Sheriff’s Department had not closed the criminal case.

Weeks later, new allegations surfaced involving alleged abuse of different boy in the 1990s and police began investigating. Throughout this, however, archdiocesan officials kept Fr. O’Connell on the job.

This is precisely the kind of reckless behavior that Catholic officials have engaged in for decades, with disastrous results. It’s precisely the kind of irresponsible decision-making that Catholic officials have pledged for years would no longer happen.

A Letter to all of the Friars of the Order

Ordo Fratrum Minorum

My dear brothers, may the Lord give you peace!

In his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul writes: For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light, for light produces every kind of goodness and righteousness and truth. Try to learn what is pleasing to the Lord. Take no part in the fruitless works of darkness; rather expose them, for it is shameful even to mention the things done by them in secret; but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, for everything that becomes visible is light. “Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will give you light” (Eph. 5, 8-15).

In an effort to live as children of the light, the General Definitorium and I wish to bring to light a grave situation in which the General Curia of the Order now finds itself. The matter involves our financial stability and the patrimony of the Order. While our first concern has and remains verifying the nature, extent, and impact of what has occurred, we also recognize the significant role that external actors, people who are not members of the Order, have played in creating this grave situation.

In September 2014, the General Definitorium initiated a series of steps in order to conduct an internal inquiry into the financial dealings of the Office of the General Treasurer. A sub-commission within the General Definitorium was created to serve as an advisory group. Together we charted a course to collect reliable information, identify potential concerns, and examine all available documents in order to reach well-informed decisions about how best to proceed to guarantee the financial soundness of the Order in a manner consistent with our Franciscan values and way of life. We immediately sought advice from a highly regarded group of lawyers who continue to work for the Order. Competent ecclesiastical authorities also were informed of our concerns and have been updated on a regular basis. In addition, Provincials and Custodes in a number of the Franciscan Conferences also were provided with a brief, albeit incomplete, explanation of our situation and were requested to demonstrate their solidarity with the General Curia through prayer and in other significant ways. I regret that not all Provincials and Custodes were contacted. I ask of all Provincials and Custodes your understanding and for a financial contribution to help address the current situation, which involves also the repayment of significant debts.

Global Franciscan leader reveals impropriety; order's finances at 'grave risk'

National Catholic Reporter

Joshua J. McElwee | Dec. 19, 2014

The leader of the main group of the world's Franciscans has written members of his order around the world informing them that their financial stability is at "grave risk" because of "questionable financial activities" undertaken by staffers of the order's Roman administrative offices.

Because of the questionable activities the order's general treasurer has resigned and ecclesiastical and civil authorities have been called upon for help, writes Franciscan Fr. Michael Perry, the minister general of the order.

"The General Curia finds itself in grave, and I underscore ‘grave’ financial difficulty, with a significant burden of debt," Perry, head of the Order of Friars Minor writes in a posting on the order's website.

"The systems of financial oversight and control for the management of the patrimony of the Order were either too weak or were compromised, thus limiting their effectiveness to guarantee responsible, transparent management," he continues.

Senior counsel calls for Hillsong founder to be referred to police

Rick Morton
Social Affairs Reporter

Dan Box
Crime Reporter

HILLSONG Church founder Brian Houston should be referred to police for investigation after he failed to report child sexual abuse carried out by his father, the royal commission’s senior counsel has found.

Simeon Beckett, counsel assisting the Royal Commission into ­Institutional ­Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, also found Brian Houston — who was national president of the Pentecostal church umbrella organisation ­Assemblies of God when he heard about the abuse — had a “conflict of interest” and never told police about his father Frank Houston’s abuse of a boy from the age of seven in 1970. He first found out about the abuse in 1999.

His submission says that Frank Houston admitted the abuse to his son and this confession could have been used to secure a conviction had Brian Houston ­informed police. “As that information may relate to contravention of a law ... it is submitted it is appropriate to refer Pastor Brian Houston’s conduct to the NSW Police Commissioner,” it says.

The commission heard evidence that Frank Houston abused several children in Australia and New Zealand in the 1960s and 70s while at the Assemblies of God, ­before Hillsong existed.

Contacting the Royal Commission this holiday season

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

19 December, 2014

In 2014, we conducted 17 public hearings, held over 1,700 private sessions, and further progressed our work in research and policy. We also received 9,883 calls to the call centre, more than 5,000 emails and letters, and served 796 notices to produce.

The Royal Commission call centre will be remain open during the holiday season, with the exception of the public holidays, and can be contacted on 1800 099 340 Monday – Friday between 8am – 8pm AEDT.

Public holiday dates
Thursday 25 December 2014
Friday 26 December 2014
Thursday 1 December 2014

We recognise that the holiday season can be a difficult time and encourage those who need support to call Lifeline on 13 11 14. A list of the support services available in your state or territory can also be found at our website on the Support Services page.

Judge denies shock probation for priest convicted of sex abuse


LOUISVILLE, Ky. —A judge denied shock probation for a Louisville priest who sexually abused a teenage boy in the 1970s.

James Schook was convicted of sodomy and indecent or immoral practice with another.

He’s served about seven months of his 15-year sentence.

The Year Perry Como Saved Christmas

Room with a Pew

Paul Fericano

"But the prettiest sight to see is the holly that will be on your own front door."
--Perry Como

In December of 1965, I left Saint Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara on Christmas break and took the long train ride home to San Francisco. Keeping to myself, I spent most of the trip staring out the window and watching the scenery speed past me like a silent movie. The whole time I kept wondering: how could I explain to my parents what had been happening to me at school? For the first three months of my freshman year I had been emotionally and sexually abused by a Franciscan priest who served as the school’s prefect of discipline and used medical treatment as a ruse. I had no name for what I was experiencing. But inside I knew something was wrong. As I lay in bed each night in the dormitory listening to the other boys sleep, I slowly felt myself slipping into despair and depression.

As I rode the train north I was oblivious to the family crisis that was waiting for me on the other end. My parents had separated two months before and would eventually divorce six months later. But the news of their separation was purposely kept from me at the insistence of my offender who told my mother it could discourage my vocation. He advised her that it was best to tell me when I returned home for Christmas vacation.

Stepping off the train at the Southern Pacific terminal in San Francisco, I expected to be met by both my parents but was greeted only by my mother. It’s not hard to recall the joy I felt when I saw her. For the first time in months I felt safe. She was a tiny woman, barely five feet tall, and it seemed as though I towered over her now. My mind and my heart were compressed into one, enormous embrace that wrapped my arms around her small body, seven months pregnant. Her smile was big but her eyes were red and I could tell she had been crying long before I got there.

I hadn’t been away from home so long that I couldn’t recognize the unhappiness in my mother’s face.

When I asked where my father was she told me straight out that he had left. Then she led me to a coffee shop where we sat and talked for an hour and, without revealing too many details, made it clear who the guilty party was. My first reactions were shock and dismay. But as I listened to her story, which for many years would be the only version her children would hear, I realized that my mother had not only lost a husband of twenty-one years but also a childhood friend.

Prize for Chabad abuse exposé

The JC

December 18, 2014

The JC's Australian correspondent has won a prestigious journalism prize for a documentary on child sexual abuse inside the Chabad headquarters in Melbourne.

Dan Goldberg produced Code of Silence, which last week won the Walkley Award for Best Documentary in 2014. The Walkley Awards are the highest journalistic award in Australia.

Code of Silence, screened on ABC in September, follows the journey of Manny Waks after he went public with allegations that he was abused as a student at Yeshivah College. It also follows the parallel story of his father, Zephaniah, who backs his son but finds himself ostracised from his community.

'We have worked tirelessly to create a truly separate foundation...'

Canonical Consultation


Jennifer Haselberger

Tim Healy and the Catholic Services Appeal Foundation made another effort this week to convince stakeholders (meaning priests and donors) that the foundation is a separate entity deserving of their (and our) support.

I have already written about why I won't be contributing to the CSA this year, and I have also provided some reasons for why I don't think the word 'separate' (meaning to remove or severe from) applies to the foundation in the way that the Archdiocese wants us to believe it does. I wasn't planning to comment on the latest email sent to clergy, but the claim that they have 'worked tirelessly' seems to beg a response, as does the article that appeared yesterday in The Catholic Spirit.

This is the email to which I am referring:


I find it interesting that both The Catholic Spirit article and the email to priests claim that the 2014 campaign exceeded its fundraising goal in pledges. Pledges are different than actual money contributed, and I think we would all be far more interested to see the latter amount rather than the former- especially given that both the article and the email refer to the Foundation being unable to meet campaign expenses.

I also chuckle when I read about the 'tireless' efforts to create a separate foundation. Tim Healy, who, as I have already mentioned, is the brother-in-law of Bishop Cozzens, offers the following in support of his claim: the Foundation has a separate bank account, an 'independent board' (chaired by the brother-in-law of the bishop), separate employees, and its own database (where did they get my address then? I didn't give it to them.). What he does not mention is that this 'independent' foundation is operated out of the Hayden Center (the pastoral building of the Archdiocesan Central Corporation). In other words, the tireless work did not include moving from the old offices, or getting new phone numbers, etc, but instead they continued to use the same ones as they did before they were a 'separate' foundation. Some of you may remember that at one time the Catholic Community Foundation rented space in the Hayden Center, but they moved years ago when it was determined that remaining on Archdiocesan property called into question the independence of the CCF.

Archdiocese lawyers’ $5 million Christmas gift


Statement by Peter Isely, SNAP Midwest Director
CONTACT: 414.429.7259

It’s the season for giving and no one has found a way, as the saying goes, to make sure “to give back to yourself first” than the lawyers of the Archdiocese of Milwaukee who filed today a proposed $10 million settlement with insurers (one of them aptly named “Stonewall”) in the longest and most victim bashing bankruptcy in church history. Of the $10 million, lawyers made sure half of that amount will go to themselves, with total legal and court fees now topping over $18 million and no end in sight. I suppose we can safely conclude that after almost four years where justice for victims has not been pursued much in court, we can always have confidence the billable hours will be.

The archdiocese describes the deal in commercial terms as a “tremendous value”. But for whom? And what values are being extolled? Gospel values?

Most importantly, what of the 575 victims of childhood rape, sexual assault and abuse by dozens of Catholic clergy who filed cases into bankruptcy court? If Judge Susan V. Kelley approves the new settlement, $5 million will be added to an already proposed $4 million making available a total of $9 million in victim restitution. That’s about $15,000 thousand per victim and, if you figure about a dozen lawyers working in earnest, more or less, that’s about $1.2 million per lawyer. But, again, the fees are still rising.

This is why local survivor and clergy leaders and advocates last month wrote a detailed letter to Pope Francis asking for an investigation of the archdiocesan bankruptcy debacle. No one except lawyers are really being served by this proposal. And whatever one thinks of Pope Francis, this settlement is clearly in complete opposition and even defiance of his repeated call for justice for victims of priest abuse, fair compensation (if necessary through the civil courts) for those harmed, and an insistence that Cardinals, bishops and archbishops must stop evading accountability and responsibility for the consequences of these crimes.

More women come forward against Georgetown rabbi


[with video]

Debra Alfarone, WUSA

December 18, 2014

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- More women are coming forward and accusing Georgetown Rabbi Barry Freundel of possibly videotaping them as they disrobed for a Jewish ritual bath called a mikvah.

Freundel was a religious leader at Kesher Israel Congregation in Georgetown until shortly after D.C. police arrested him and charged him with six counts of voyeurism in October.

Now, three women are part of a civil lawsuit stemming from those videotape allegations. One of the alleged victims part of the lawsuit, Emma Shulevitz, says she was converting to Judaism in 2012, and Freundel asked her to take a 'practice' mikvah,

"I feel so hurt, I feel so disappointed, and I feel like finally there's some understanding of what happened," Shulevitz said.

Shulevitz says after she saw that the 62-year-old religious leader was arrested, she remembered something that struck her as odd.

Possible Rabbi Voyeurism Victim Feels "Betrayed, Duped"

NBC Washington

[with video]

The latest woman to join a class action lawsuit against Georgetown University, Kesher Israel synagogue, the National Capital Mikvah and an Orthodox rabbi accused of secretly recording women during ritual baths described the suffering she's gone through since learning about a hidden camera that may have captured her naked.

Emma Shulevitz, who is 39 weeks pregnant and due any day, said when she went to the Mikvah to convert to Judaism in 2012, rabbi Barry Freundel told her not to put anything in front of a clock radio when she disrobed, News4's Chris Gordon reported. She said she has suffered greatly since learning it
"I feel betrayed,” she said. “I feel duped. I feel taken advantage of. Unfortunately this is a very, very sad situation."

Freundel was charged with six counts of voyeurism after Shulevitz reported her fears that she had been caught on camera and went public. He was accused of recording at least several women at a ritual bath next to Kesher Israel in Georgetown, where he was the rabbi.

Orthodox Rabbinic Group Sued in Barry Freundel Mikveh Peeping Case

The Jewish Daily Forward

Published December 18, 2014.

A lawsuit arising out of allegations of voyeurism at a Washington D.C. ritual bath added the Rabbinical Council of America as a defendant.

The lawsuit, filed earlier this month by a third-year student at Georgetown University’s law school, initially named as defendants Rabbi Barry Freundel’s Washington synagogue, Kesher Israel, the adjacent mikvah and her own law school for allowing Freundel’s alleged misdeeds to go unchecked.

At a press conference on Thursday, the law firm representing her — Silverman, Thompson, Slutkin and White — added the RCA as a defendant and added two additional plaintiffs in a class action, WJLA, the local ABC affiliate, reported.

Calls to the law firm were unanswered, and Rabbi Mark Dratch, the RCA’s executive vice president, said the organization had not yet been officially notified of the suit.

Victims of abuse are 'unfairly' represented

Belfast Telegraph


Child abuse victims have been unfairly denied legal representation at a major inquiry into alleged historical offences at care homes, the High Court has heard.

A judge was also told they should be provided with a team of barristers and solicitors to ensure equality with those accused of inflicting sexual and physical assaults.

Judicial review proceedings have been brought by a woman who claims she was abused by a "high-profile public figure".

She is challenging a decision by Historical Institutional Abuse Inquiry (HIA) chairman Sir Anthony Hart to refuse her application for funding for legal representation at public expense.

Lawyers acting for the woman in the High Court challenge want his decision quashed, claiming it is unlawful and will give an unfair advantage to alleged perpetrators.


Religion Dispatches


The other shoe dropped on December 16, 2014 at a press conference announcing the “final report” on at least one phase of the long-simmering Vatican struggle with U.S. Catholic sisters.

It was not a red Prada slipper, and the devil is still in the details.

Despite herculean efforts to make nice, the 12-page report and its presentation reinforce the Roman Catholic Church’s patriarchal power paradigm. And although many have hailed the report as a sign of the Vatican’s warming toward women, I am not convinced.

Six Years of Scrutiny

The first shoe dropped in 2008 when Cardinal Franc Rodé announced an Apostolic Visitation of active women’s religious communities. The goal of the inquiry—akin to a grand jury— was “to look into the quality of life of apostolic Congregations of women religious in the United States.”

The benign-sounding rhetoric was, to those in the know, an unmistakable signal of disapproval of how women religious were living increasingly self- and community-directed lives.

The Visitation was in no way experienced by the subjects or meant by the perpetrators “to convey the caring support of the Church in respectful, ‘sister-to-sister’ dialogue, as modeled in the Gospel account of the Visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth” as one “eyebrow-raising paragraph” in the report asserted—this revisionist history is pure fantasy.

Three archbishops visiting Guam in January


by Jolene Toves

Guam - The Catholic Church will be welcoming a visit from three archbishops in January.

As the local Catholic church celebrates its jubilee year as a diocese they also welcome a pastoral visit from the secretary of the Vatican Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, Archbishop Savio Hon Tai-Fai. Father Adrian Cristobal is chancellor for the Archdiocese of Hagatna and told KUAM News, "We are very happy and are very happy to welcome this pastoral visit a pastoral visit is exactly what it is like what Archbishop [Anthony] Apuron is actually doing right now he is going to the parishes he's visiting the people visiting the sick celebrating masses visiting the groups this is a pastoral visit done by the congregation."

Archbishop Savio will be accompanied by Reverend Father Tadeusz Nowak, and Archbishop Martin Krebs. You may recall Archbishop Krebs is the Vatican's ambassador or apostolic delegate to the Pacific Islands and was recently on Guam during which time he met with local clergy. After that meeting Father Adrian said Krebs had instructed them to build bridges with the local clergy with an open dialogue and reconciliation. He said, "They'll be visiting members of the clergy and the religious and member of the different groups and we believe it is a very fruitful visit we're looking forward to it and we believe it will help build a communion between the church and Guam and the Holy Father," he said.

While Father Adrian says this is the pope's way of extending blessings to the church, Jungle Watch blogger Tim Rohr spoke candidly about what he believes is the reason for the pastoral visit. He said, "I realize that the chancery is probably trying to as a precursor to a possible papal visit but in my opinion the person that is coming is the wrong person because if it was a papal visit they would be sending the secretary of the state or somebody from that particular office and so I really think it is an investigation."

While Rohr believes there is something going on and that the visit is so they can "see for themselves". Father Adrian Admantly says there will be no investigation or report, noting, "No in our communications with Vatican they have specifically said it was a pastoral visit to the archdiocese."

Deacon Steve Martinez Fired for Being Part of Concerned Catholics Group

Pacific News Center

Written by Janela Carrera

Guam - Newly formed group Concerned Catholics of Guam may have just received its first warning from the Archdiocese of Agana as the group’s treasurer, Deacon Steve Martinez has just confirmed that Archbishop Anthony Apuron has censured him.

PNC Contacted Deacon Steve Martinez today who confirmed for us that Archbishop Anthony Apuron has just censured him and suspended him as a Deacon. The move comes just a week after the newly formed organization Concerned Catholics of Guam held a press conference announcing that they plan to investigate the Archdiocese of Agana. Deacon Martinez tells PNC that the Archbishop ordered him on Wednesday to resign as the group’s treasurer and member or face censureship.

Deacon Martinez says the Archbishop gave him a deadline of 4 pm Thursday afternoon, but he tells PNC that he asked Archbishop Apuron for reconsideration. That was not granted, Deacon Martinez says. The punishment is severe enough that Deacon Martinez says he had to cancel performing a wedding tomorrow because he’s been suspended from his duties.

The deacon received the notice ordering him to resign from CCOG in writing, telling PNC that it was signed by Archbishop Apuron and Chancellor Father Adrian Cristobal.

However, when PNC contacted Father Adrian, he told us that he was not aware of any censureship against Deacon Martinez.

Tas teacher excluded from abuse hearing

Sky News

Allegations of child sexual abuse against a former Hobart school teacher, previously thought to be dead, will not be considered by a royal commission.

Ronald Thomas, 77, was accused at a commission hearing in November of abusing boys while a teacher at exclusive Hobart school Hutchins in the 1960s.

At the time the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse was told Thomas had left Australia and later died.

However, in early December it was reported he was alive and living in New Zealand.

On Thursday the Hutchins hearing resumed and counsel assisting, Angus Stewart SC, said Tasmanian police intend investigating the allegations against Thomas.

'In order to avoid any risk of prejudicing that investigation this public hearing will not inquire any further into the allegations against Mr Thomas and moreover commissioners will not be asked to make any finding in relation to any allegations against Mr Thomas.'

Christian Brothers knew of sexual abuse...

Perth Now

Christian Brothers knew of sexual abuse at WA boys’ homes for four decades: Royal Commission report

DECEMBER 19, 2014

FOR more than four decades the Christian Brothers’ Provincial Council knew of rampant sexual abuse at its WA boys homes, a major inquiry report has found.

The leaders of the Catholic order also failed to prevent further abuse from occurring at the WA institutions despite being aware of allegations.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse today handed down its findings into the allegations of widespread sexual and physical abuse at Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun and the Bindoon Farm School.

The report found that from 1919 to the 1960s, the Christian Brothers’ Provincial Council knew of sexual abuse allegations against some of its Brothers in institutions run by the Christian Brothers around Australia.

It also found that from 1947 to 1968, leaders of the Catholic order failed to manage the four institutions to prevent further sexual, physical and emotional abuse of children living there.

Christian Brothers 'knew of abuse claims'

The West Australian

Amanda Banks, Legal Affairs Editor
December 19, 2014

Christian Brothers’ leaders knew of allegations of sexual abuse of children at four WA orphanages and failed to manage the homes to prevent the systemic ill-treatment for decades, a royal commission has found.

A report released today has found the Christian Brothers failed in their obligation to provide for and educate the orphans, with inspections by visiting supervisors from the order over the decades paying more attention to financial and religious matters than the welfare of the children.

The report by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has also found State authorities played a limited role in the care of the boys, which contributed to their isolation and limited options for disclosing their abuse.

The findings in the case study of the four homes come after a public hearing in Perth in April which laid bare harrowing details of sexual, physical and emotional abuse, neglect and unpaid child labour at the Bindoon, Clontarf, Castledare and Tardun orphanages.

Eleven former residents of the homes told the two-week hearing of their stories of abuse, including being groomed as “sex pets”, sadistically beaten, raped, neglected in appalling living conditions and disbelieved or ignored when they reported their treatment.

Christian Brothers failed to prevent child sex abuse - saw it as 'moral lapse'

Sydney Morning Herald

December 19, 201

Aleisha Orr
Reporter, WA Today

Leaders of the Christian Brothers order failed to prevent sexual abuse of children living in four of its West Australian institutions, a report has found.

The report, compiled by the Royal Commission, found that in every decade between 1919 and the 1960s, the relevant Christian Brothers Provincial Council knew of allegations of sexual abuse around Australia - but that sexual abuse of children was viewed as, and referred to as, a 'moral lapse' or 'weakness'.

Part of the commision's report, Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, looks in to abuse that took place at Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent's Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary's Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School.

The report comes after a hearing in Perth earlier this year, where eleven men gave evidence and made allegations of sexual abuse against 16 named Brothers and told of physical and emotional abuse.

Realeased on Friday, the report found "the leadership of the Christian Brothers during the period 1947 to 1968 failed to manage each of the institutions, so as to prevent the sexual abuse of children living in those institutions".

Royal commission finds WA Christian Brothers failed to prevent child sexual abuse

ABC News

By Courtney Bembridge

An inquiry into child sexual abuse at four Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia has found that the organisation was aware of abuse allegations for decades - and the damage it could cause - but did not stop it.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examined abuse at Christian Brothers institutions in Bindoon, Tardun and Perth between 1947 and 1968 and found management failed to prevent the sexual abuse of children living at the schools.

Some of the victims were as young as seven when they were sexually and physically abused by brothers and older boys.

Eleven of the schools' former residents gave evidence at hearings in Perth throughout April and May.

The men recounted stories of painful abuse and psychological damage they have suffered as a result, which led to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.

Sixteen brothers were named as perpetrators of sexual abuse, but only four were ever charged and of those, only one was jailed.

Maltese child migrant gets €53,000 in damages for Christian Brothers abuse

Malta Today

Matthew Vella 19 December 2014

An inquiry into child sexual abuse at four Christian Brothers institutions in Western Australia – to whom Maltese child migrants were entrusted to in a bid to build themselves a new life – has found that the organisation was aware of abuse allegations for decades, and the damage it could cause, but did not stop it.

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse examined abuse at Christian Brothers institutions in Bindoon, Tardun and Perth between 1947 and 1968 and found management failed to prevent the sexual abuse of children living at the schools.

Some of the victims were as young as seven when they were sexually and physically abused by brothers and older boys.

Eleven of the schools’ former residents gave evidence at hearings in Perth throughout April and May.

The men recounted stories of painful abuse and psychological damage they have suffered as a result, which led to depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and alcoholism.

Church responds to reports about former minister

Altus Times

The former pastor of the Elm & Hudson Church of Christ, Tom Bailey of Altus, was arrested Tuesday, Dec. 16 on a complaint of Child Sexual Abuse. (see the full story on the Altus Times website, altustimes.com) He has since been released from the Jackson County Jail on a $100,000 bond.

The Interim Minister for the Elm & Hudson Church of Christ, Daniel Ingram, provided the following statement from the church Elders about the reports, Bailey, and their church:

“In the past few days, Elm & Hudson Church of Christ has been mentioned in several media reports, and we felt it would be helpful to provide some insight into how our congregation has been impacted. On November 30, Tom Bailey resigned as our minister, effective immediately. As you might expect, he gave us very little information about the circumstances or reasons for his resignation, but our church leadership acted swiftly in accepting the resignation and doing their best to minister to those involved. Since that time, the charges now being reported in the media have come to light, and we remain deeply saddened by this situation. While none of these allegations relate to our church or to Tom’s role at our church, we have members of our family that are hurting and struggling. We ask the community to pray for Tom, his family, and all who are affected during this difficult time, especially the female victim who has been mentioned in the articles.

Here at Elm & Hudson, we are a broken people reaching out to a Savior who makes us whole. We are earnestly seeking to pour out God’s love on those most affected by this situation, and our sincere hope is that we will draw even closer as a family during this process. Elm & Hudson has been a loving family and an important part of the Altus community for over 100 years. We have always done our best to accomplish God’s purpose here on earth, and through His power, His love, His grace, and His mercy, we will continue to do amazing things here in our community for many more years to come.

Altus pastor makes first court appearance


By Derek Hendy, Internet Content Director

ALTUS, Okla._A former Altus pastor, charged with child sexual abuse, appeared in court for the first time Thursday.

Tommy Lynn Bailey is accused of sexually abusing a young girl over a period or seven years. The victim says the abuse started when she was 14 years old and lasted until this past September. Thursday, a judge ordered that Bailey is not to contact the victim himself or through anyone else. He cannot be in the presence of minors without adult supervision either.

Pastor speaks out on former employee’s sexual abuse arrest

Valley Central

by Elizabeth Espinosa

A local pastor is speaking out about a former employee who is facing sexual abuse charges.

Pastor Antonio Madrigal with Centro Cristiano Restauracion Familiar in Palmview is reaching out about former employee Jesus Bustos.

Bustos helped with choir classes and even held individual sessions.

Bustos was let go four months ago after Pastor Madrigal said allegations surfaced from one family claiming Bustos was making late calls to an underage girl.

Right now, Palmview police have charged Bustos with indecency with a child by sexual contact, and he is behind bars at the Hidalgo County Jail.

Cupich Denies Mud-Slinging Allegations in Court

NBC Chicago

By Phil Rogers

In documents filed in a Spokane court, new Chicago Archbishop Blaise Cupich denies the assertions of a former deputy that he wanted to “sling mud at his former diocesan law firm” to “see what sticks”, in an effort to recover millions of dollars in fees.

The filing further illustrates the continued acrimony in a case which shocked many in the Spokane community, as Cupich led the Diocese in a split with its longtime lawyers.

Cupich is suing his former law firm, Paine Hamblen, accusing them of malpractice in a bankruptcy case stemming from millions of dollars in sexual abuse claims. In a deposition given earlier this year, Father Steven Dublinski, the former Vicar General of the Diocese, said Cupich told him he was “throwing mud at Paine-Hamblen to see if any mud sticks.”

After that, Dublinski said he made the decision that he could no longer serve as Cupich’s Vicar General.

“Vicar General should be able to support and represent this Bishop,” he said. “So I offered my resignation.”

In a sworn declaration given here in Chicago earlier this month, Cupich stated “at no time did I say we were filing the case as a way to throw mud at this law firm, or besmirch their reputation. It was always a matter of trying to let them know we were serious, and hoping that some aspect of our case would get their attention, and stick with someone in the firm who could provide some common sense.”

At issue was a provision of the bankruptcy settlement, isolating a $1 million fund for payment of future claims. Cupich argued that outstanding claims would exceed that million dollars, and put over 20 Church properties in jeopardy of foreclosure. Paine Hamblen counters that the future claims have totaled almost exactly what had been anticipated.

Priest jailed for sexually abusing school boys

Irish Examiner

By Liam Heylin

A 71-year-old priest who continued to say Mass within his religious community after serving three years for sexually abusing schoolboys was sentenced to another three years yesterday for more abuse that dates back more than 30 years.

Judge Donagh McDonagh imposed a total sentence of five years imprisonment on Tadgh Ó Dálaigh of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin. The last two years of the sentence was suspended.

Judge McDonagh noted from reports prepared for the sentencing hearing at Cork Circuit Criminal court that Ó Dálaigh’s ministry as a priest was confined to celebrating Mass within the community house of his religious order, the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart, in Dublin.

The judge also acknowledged that Ó Dálaigh had taken active responsibility in managing his risk and adhering to a management plan in this regard which effectively monitored his every moment.


Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

REPORT OF CASE STUDY NO. 11: Congregation of Christian Brothers in Western Australia response to child sexual abuse at Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School

Executive summary

The Christian Brothers is a Catholic religious organisation.

The organisation is divided into areas known as provinces. Until 1953 there was one Australia wide province of the Christian Brothers. This was divided into two in 1953. In 1957 there was a further ivision into four provinces.

Each province was supervised by a Provincial Council. This supervision took the form of annual visits to communities by a member of the Provincial Council. A visitor would stay with the community for a number of days and would speak to and observe the Brothers in the community as well as others who were in contact with the community. The visiting member would then write a ‘visitation report’.

One of the four provinces that existed in Australia in 1957 was the Holy Spirit Province, based in Perth, which covered Western Australia and South Australia. The Holy Spirit Province was responsible for the four children’s homes in Western Australia:

 Castledare Junior Orphanage
 St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf
 St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun
 Bindoon Farm School.

The four children’s homes operated from the late 1920s and closed down between the 1960s and 1980s.

The conditions at each home were basic. The food was often of a poor quality. The boys were given clothing but no shoes or underwear. The boys were involved in building work – for example, constructing a railway – and they also did landscaping and farm work.

 Finding 1: In taking children into care, the Christian Brothers were obligated to provide for them and educate them. This was not done properly in all cases. Many of the children did not have any real education and instead were put to physical labour.

 Finding 2: The visitation reports focused on the community of the Brothers and the finances and religious observance of each Brother, not on the welfare of the children. We agree with Brother Anthony Shanahan, a former Provincial of the Holy Spirit Province, that, although the Western Australian Child Welfare Department conducted inspections, the department had significantly less responsibility for the children than those within the institutions who were caring for the children on a daily basis.

Royal ...

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

[the report]

Royal Commission releases findings on the responses of the Christian Brothers in Western Australia and the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong to child sexual abuse

19 December, 2014

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has published two reports; ‘Report of Case Study 11: Congregation of Christian Brothers in Western Australia response to child sexual abuse at Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School’ and ‘Report of Case Study 14: The response of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong to allegations of child sexual abuse, and related criminal proceedings, against John Gerard Nestor, a priest of the Diocese’.

Report of Case Study 11

This report examines the responses of the Congregation of Christian Brothers in Western Australia to child sexual abuse at Castledare Junior Orphanage, St Vincent’s Orphanage Clontarf, St Mary’s Agricultural School Tardun and Bindoon Farm School.

The four institutions operated from the late 1920s and closed down between the 1960s and 1980s.

During the hearing in Perth earlier this year, eleven men gave evidence and made allegations of sexual abuse against 16 named Brothers. The sexual abuse occurred in dormitories, in Brothers’ rooms, during movie screenings and in the grounds. It also involved Brothers watching boys naked in the showers. Most of the boys did not report the abuse; one of those who did was physically beaten.

The report found that from 1919 to the 1960s, the relevant Christian Brothers’ Provincial Council knew of allegations of sexual abuse against some Brothers in institutions run by the Christian Brothers around Australia.

The report also found that from 1947 to 1968, leaders of the Christian Brothers failed to manage each of the four institutions so as to prevent the sexual abuse of children living there.

The case study also inquired into the conduct and settlement of the class against brought against the Christian Brothers.


Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

REPORT OF CASE STUDY NO. 14: The response of the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong to allegations of child sexual abuse, and related criminal proceedings, against John Gerard Nestor, a priest of the Diocese.

Executive summary

This case study explored the ways that canon law procedures are used to prevent priests from exercising their priestly ministry and ultimately have them dismissed from the priesthood. It highlighted the complexity of those procedures.

It also illustrated significant changes in the response of the Holy See in Rome to child sexual abuse claims. During the period covered by the facts of this case study – 1996 to 2009 – there was confusion in both the Holy See and the wider Catholic Church about who has jurisdiction over allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy in the Curia of the Holy See.

In the early 1990s rumours started to spread and complaints were made about Nestor’s conduct with boys. We heard evidence that in 1993 Bishop William Murray (deceased) asked Father Brian Lucas to interview Nestor. Father Lucas conducted this interview in his capacity as a member of the Catholic Church’s NSW Special Issues Resource Group. Father Lucas told us that, in keeping with his usual practice, he did not take notes during or after this interview.

 Finding 1: When Father Brian Lucas interviewed a cleric or religious about allegations of child sexual abuse before a formal Church process had commenced against that person, Father Lucas should have made a contemporaneous record of the details of what was said in the interview.

 Finding 2: Failing to make and keep such a record had the consequence that:

1. the interviewer and the cleric or religious may be unable to recall what was said in the interview and what conclusions were arrived at if they were subsequently called upon to do so

2. written records that might otherwise have been available for use in a subsequent investigation, prosecution or other penal process are not available.

Catholic cleric protected paedophile priest John Nestor and church, child abuse inquiry finds

ABC News

[the report]

A senior Catholic cleric failed to note a key conversation with a paedophile priest which ensured a criminal admission was not recorded, a child abuse inquiry has found.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse today released its findings into allegations that the priest, John Gerard Nestor assaulted, children in Wollongong in the 1990s.

The commission found that the senior cleric at the Catholic Diocese of Wollongong, Father Brian Lucas, ensured there was no written record of admissions of criminal conduct and that this was done in order to protect the priest and the church.

There were rumours of Nestor's attacks on children from the 1990s and the Vatican authorities put children at risk by taking more than five years to finally agree on Nestor's removal from ministry in 2008, according to the commission report.

An outcome of Father Lucas' practice was to ensure that there was no written record of any admissions of criminal conduct in order to protect the priest and the Church.
Royal commission report

The report stated: "During the 1990s, rumours spread about camps that he (Nestor) ran where boys were swimming naked, showering in the open and where Nestor had conversations with boys about the size of their genitalia."

December 18, 2014

Pope Cools Down Abuse Team – NO Tom Doyle; As Major Powers’ and US Nuns’ Issues Heat Up

Christian Catholicism

Jerry Slevin

1. Pope Francis is evidently a “hands on” Jesuit pope. He appears to expect obedience and loyalty from all, as Cardinal Burke seems to have recently learned painfully. But Francis, now in his 79th year, is only one man and an old one at that. He needs assistance from “independent doers”, not just “loyal followers”. Very disappointingly, he has now bypassed Fr. Thomas Doyle, O.P., as described more below, the world’s top expert on the Catholic priest child abuse scandal. Fr. Doyle has been omitted from Francis’ endlessly evolving but rarely meeting “cherry picked” anti-abuse commission panel. This is despite Doyle’s public request for inclusion and their shared and significant history with Cardinal Pio Laghi decades ago.

2. This, in my view, will likely turn out to be a huge papal mistake. Pope Francis should have known by now that, in order to clean up the continuing child abuse mess and to regain worldwide Catholics’ rapidly diminishing trust, he urgently needs commission members who have clearly proven to be BOTH professionally experienced AND independently courageous, like Tom Doyle has. He is a rare combination in my view after decades practicing as an international lawyer.

3. Francis’ overlooking of Doyle sends a very bad signal about Pope Francis’ real intentions with the long delayed commission. The commission is now scheduled to meet together for an “all hands” organizational meeting in February, likely to be orchestrated by Fr. Robert Oliver, the commission’s chief of staff and the Vatican’s former top prosecutor. Oliver reportedly initially learned the ropes on the priest child abuse scandal under Boston’s infamous Cardinal Law, hardly a positive reference. Law, like Oliver, is in Rome, while the purported commission head, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, is in Boston and likes to communicate with the Vatican by fax!

4. In 2006, the Boston Globe reported that O’Malley indicated that administrative management is not his forte. Bishop Accountability has reported well on O’Malley’s and Oliver’s earlier shortcomings on addressing some suspected Boston priest abusers. This slow moving commission certainly made O’Malley’s limited management skills quite evident. Oliver and O’Malley will be assisted in the US by the sole US member, a former New Zealander who has worked for O’Malley in three dioceses. She also stood up for O’Malley in the same 2006 Boston Globe article about O’Malley’s poor handling of the termination of an alleged sexual harassing hospital executive.

5. So there you appear to have it. Pope Francis’ key team to clean up the scandal, at least in Boston, in the place where it first exploded a dozen years ago, is a old Boston team, perhaps with even occasional whispered advice from Cardinal Law in Rome. Amazing, just amazing! Is Pope Francis really serious?

Judge fines Chabad of Calif. $845,000, says group misused federal grant with 'reckless disregard'

Jewish Journal

by Jared Sichel

A federal judge ruled last week that Chabad of California intentionally misused $272,495 in Department of Homeland Security (DHS) grants it received in 2009 and must pay $844,985 in penalties, a portion of which will go to whistleblowers who brought the suit against Chabad.

Chabad of California’s head, Rabbi Boruch Shlomo Cunin, applied for the funds in 2008 as part of a national program to boost surveillance systems at religious institutions. He convinced two other local Chabad institutions — Chabad of Marina Del Rey and the Yeshiva Ohr Elchonon high school — to also apply for the grants and allow Chabad of California to carry out the logistics of managing the funds and contracting with a security firm.

But according to a ruling by Judge Morrison England, Cunin never established procedures for the money, and he also did not create a separate bank account to segregate and track the federal funds. The judge also ruled that Chabad did not use the funds for their intended purposes, and instead used the money for “regular operating expenses, including employee payroll, building repairs, mortgages, and utility expenses.”

Chabad of California’s attorney, Mark Hathaway, said that his clients were “very surprised” that England granted the Justice Department’s motion for summary judgment — the court ruled that the case didn’t warrant a trial because the facts against Chabad of California weren’t in question.

KY--Predator priest will stay locked up

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 18

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( 314 503 0003, bdorris@SNAPnetwork.org )

We are grateful that a Louisville predator priest won’t get shock probation. Keeping him behind bars is the best way to protect kids.


Time and time again, we’ve seen people claim they’ll oversee child molesters if they’re freed. But these predators are shrewd, manipulative and relentless. Why take chances with the safety of children?

Fr. James Schook needs to stay locked up. We appreciate that Judge Mitch Perry understands this. We hope that others who were assaulted by Fr. Schook find some comfort in this just ruling.

Judge denies shock probation for priest sentenced to 15 years for molesting teen


[with video]

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville priest convicted of sexually abusing a teenage boy will not be granted shock probation.

Rev. James Schook asked for shock probation in November -- only six months into his 15-year sentence. A hearing had been set for Dec. 19 to hear Schook's request, but Judge Mitch Perry denied the request one day before the hearing.

In April, a jury convicted Schook of three counts of sodomy and one count of indecent and immoral behavior with an individual and recommended the 15-year sentence, which the judge upheld.

In requesting shock probation, David Lambertus, Schook's attorney, told Judge Perry that Schook has the support of family members and friends who have offered to care for him and "make sure he abides by the rules of shock probation."


Berger's Beat

December 18, 2014 | Author: berger

Three priests have written to Pope Francis seeking an investigation into the Milwaukee archdiocesan bankruptcy. One of their concerns, a controversial move by then-Archbishop Tim Dolan to put $57 million into a cemetery trust fund he admitted “was to provide improved protection of these funds from “any legal claim and liability.” The intent of the bankruptcy proceeding for church officials “to exhaust silence and slander victims as well as to serve as a warning to others,” the letter asserts

2 women add their names to lawsuit involving rabbi accused of secretly filming women

The Republic

December 18, 2014

WASHINGTON — Two women have joined a lawsuit saying they were sexually exploited by a rabbi accused of secretly videotaping women in a Jewish ritual bath.

The civil lawsuit was filed in early December in D.C. Superior Court and seeks class action status. On Thursday, two women joined the lawsuit, which was originally filed on behalf of a Georgetown University law student.

The rabbi the women say they were exploited by, Barry Freundel, was arrested in October and is charged with voyeurism for allegedly placing a hidden camera in the shower area of a ritual bath, called a mikvah.

Synagogue vouyerism class-action lawsuit names Rabbinical Council of America as defendant


By Joce Sterman December 18, 2014

WASHINGTON (WJLA) - A class-action lawsuit related to voyeurism against Georgetown rabbi Barry Freundel has named the Rabbinical Council of America as a defendant and named two specific victims as plaintiffs.

Freundel is accused of secretly videotaping women in a changing area near a ceremonial bath, called a mikvah, at Kesher Israel synagogue in Washington.

One of the newly named victims claims Freundel made her do a "practice dunk" in the Mikvah, a Jewish ceremonial bath used in conversion ceremonies, ahead of her own conversion. The new complaint also indicated that Freundel encouraged students from Towson University, where he was an associate professor, to make "field trips" to Kesher Israel.

Rabbinical Council Of America Sued Over Rabbi Barry Freundel’s Alleged Mikvah-Peeping

Failed Messiah

Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com

The lawsuit against alleged mikvah voyeur Rabbi Barry Freundel has been expanded, ABC 7’s Joce Sterman reported.

At a press conference today, a new amended complaint was released that says students from Towson University were encouraged by Freundel to "go on field trips" to use the mikvah in which Freundel allegedly had a hidden camera set up to video record.

Two new plaintiffs were added to the suit, one of whom claims that Freundel made her do "practice dunks” as part of her conversion process. The other new plaintiff was one of Freundel’s students at Towson.

And, along with Freundel’s former synagogue Kesher Israel and the Capital Mikvah he controlled, the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA), which previously investigated Freundel for other alleged misbehavior with female conversion candidates but took no action against him and did not warn the public, has been added to the lawsuit as a defendant.

Malpractice case filed by Spokane diocese sent to court

Yakima Herald-Republic


SPOKANE, Wash. — The Catholic Diocese of Spokane can take its legal malpractice claim to trial against a law firm that handled its 2007 bankruptcy over priest sex abuse claims, a federal bankruptcy judge ruled.

The decision on Wednesday means former Spokane bishop Blase Cupich, who now serves as archbishop of Chicago, will likely have to testify in February about his decision to seek $3.6 million in legal fees from the Paine Hamblen law firm.

“I have every reasonable expectation that he will testify,” said Robert Gould, who is representing the diocese in the bankruptcy proceedings, The Spokesman-Review reported.

Cupich contends that Paine Hamblen lawyers underestimated how many victims would come forward with sex abuse claims after the bankruptcy was first resolved.

The long, long wait for a list of sinful priests


EJ Montini, columnist | azcentral.com

There's a very good pope in the Vatican these days and that has helped us to forget about the very bad priests that have operated in some Roman Catholic churches.

Including here.

This week the Catholic Diocese of Gallup, N.M., released what it called an updated list of priests who it claims were "credibly accused" of sexually abusing minors. At least 17 of them worked in Arizona.

This was a big story once. We've moved on. The same can't be said for the victims.

And while the release of this information is a good thing, and may help other victims who choose to come forward, how could it have possibly taken so long? And how many other dioceses within the church are still holding out?

Back in April of 2002, over 12 years ago, I wrote a column that began:

"I called the Roman Catholic Diocese of Phoenix to ask if the Bishop Thomas J. O'Brien had given police a list of all clergy members, past and present, who have been accused of sexual misconduct. I expected the answer to be yes.

"After all, last Sunday The Arizona Republic printed an article by Bishop O'Brien in which he discussed at length the problem of sexual abuse by priests. Among other things, the bishop said, 'Make no mistake: Such misconduct with minors is deplorable. We cannot condone it; we must condemn it. Such misconduct with minors is a betrayal of trust of the highest order.'

Milwaukee Archdiocese Reaches $10.3 Million Insurance Settlement

Wall Street Journal

Dec. 18, 2014

After years of negotiations, a settlement has been reached with insurance carriers that would furnish the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which is at the center of the longest running and most contentious diocesan bankruptcy to date, with $10.3 million to settle allegations of sexual abuse.

The settlement, if approved by a bankruptcy judge, could provide hundreds of individuals who claim they were sexually abused by the archdiocese’s clergy with substantially more compensation than is currently being offered by the archdiocese.

According to court papers, the archdiocese’s insurance carriers initially refused to cover liabilities stemming from sexual abuse. But, four years of negotiations and four mediations sessions have finally brokered a deal.

“It’s another step forward in bring this case to resolution,” said Jerry Topczewski, a spokesman for the archdiocese.

The Archdiocese of Milwaukee, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Jan. 4, 2011, has offered $4 million to compensate about 125 of the more than 500 people who have sought compensation. The plan also provides another $500,000 to provide lifetime therapy, but abuse victims and their lawyers say that is not enough.

Why Did Mother Mary Clare Millea Succeed?

America Magazine

Mary Ann Walsh | Dec 18 2014

Maybe Mother Clare Millea benefited from the low expectations that come with an impossible task. Whatever the case, the nun who heads the Apostles of the Sacred Heart of Jesus pulled off the apostolic visitation of all active nuns in the United States with a sense of aplomb and fairness. Kudos came from many places, including media that stood ready to pounce if anything seemed unfair.

So why did Mother Clare succeed despite predictions she would flame out?

Could it be that her success came because she is first of all a woman? I don’t wish to sound stereotypical but I think the answer lies in the fact that, as the final report said, she opted for a “sister-to-sister” dialogue. She didn’t go into the discussion with her mind made up. She sought information, not victory. This was no power trip to prove who was in charge.

She consulted many people, both women and men, and people likely to agree with her philosophically and those expected to disagree. It came as no surprise that orders being investigated were not open to paying for it. Thus she took on the arduous task of finding funders and did so, though many people, including church officials, were not throwing money at her. As a woman, she figured out how to do the study on the cheap. No need to have meetings at top-of-the-line hotels when a religious house might be found. The point was to meet, not to party. Word soon spread that the investigation seemed fair.

Survivor of priest abuse blasts handling of latest church response


BY HOLLIDAY MOORE, | December 18, 2014

PHOENIX -- A survivor of sexual abuse is calling leaders at the Catholic diocese in Gallup, New Mexico, cowards.

The ire comes one day after the diocese released more than 30 new names of suspected predators within the church. More than half on the list worked in Arizona between 1951 and 2013.

In a public letter, Bishop James Wall of the Gallup Diocese wrote, "In my ongoing commitment to protection of children and to further my goal of transparency within this Diocese, we have determined that there are additional priests against whom there have been credible allegations of child abuse."

Despite the apparent openness, Joelle Casteix with Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said, "This smells bad!"

Having advocated for more than a decade against priest abuse, Casteix, who lives in Southern California, said the open letter is more a calculated attempt to avoid further civil suits before the diocese bankruptcy case closed.

Priest sentenced to further three years for abuse

RTE News

A 71-year-old priest who continued to say mass within his religious community after serving three years for sexually assaulting schoolboys, was sentenced to another three years for abuse dating back over 30 years.

Tadgh O'Dalaigh of Woodview, Mount Merrion Avenue, Blackrock, Dublin, received a five year sentenced at Cork Circuit Criminal Court today, with the final two years suspended.

A jury last July found him guilty of indecently assaulting a schoolboy in March or April 1979 in the sick bay of Coláiste an Chroí Naofa, Carraig na bhFear, in Co Cork.

O'Dalaigh had pleaded not guilty to this charge.

Earlier, he had pleaded guilty to five charges of indecently or sexually assaulting another schoolboy.

Cuando el perdón no es suficiente

El Diario

Por: Jorge Viera
PUBLICADO: DEC, 14, 2014

"Me quiero suicidar, nadie en el pueblo me habla” , me dijo Juan, víctima de abuso sexual en la República Dominicana.

Juan (que no es su nombre real) vive en un pueblo llamado Juncalito, provincia de Santiago. Tan rural que para llegar ahí hay que hacerlo manejando por horas por una carretera de piedras y barro.
En ese alejado pueblo se estableció Wojciech Waldemar Gil, conocido en el país como el padre Alberto Gil. Este polaco decía que era como el elegido de Dios ante sus fieles. Juan y su familia entre ellos.

Tenía ocho años cuando el Padre Gil lo invitó a ser parte de la iglesia como monaguillo.

Dominican boy endured 6 years of sex abuse, death threats by priest

Dominican Today

New York.- "He abused and raped me for six years, forced me to wear women’s undergarments and threatened to kill me," revealed in dramatic and revealing confessions to a local TV station, one of the many abused boys, sodomized and violated by Polish former priest Wojciech Waldermar Gil (Padre Alberto) in the town of Juncalito, in Dominican Republic’s highlands.

The boy identified only as "Juan" in the interview on Univision, said he tried to take his own life several times, after the abuse, which many believe senior Dominican Catholic prelates sought to cover up.

The defrocked priest being held in his native Poland on similar charges is also accused of abusing at least seven boys who belonged to the parish at Juncalito, many of whom were altar boys just like "Juan."

The victim said many of the abused have refused to speak about their alleged ordeal. "I do not know how many times, but he abused me for six years."

Papst komplettiert Kinderschutz-Kommission


Vatikan | 17.12.2014 – Vatikanstadt

Papst Franziskus hat neun weitere Mitglieder für die vatikanische Kinderschutzkommission ernannt. Er berief unter anderem ein weiteres Opfer sexuellen Missbrauchs in das Gremium, wie aus der Vatikanmitteilung vom Mittwoch hervorgeht. Der Brite Peter Saunders ist Gründer einer Vereinigung von Betroffenen. Er gehörte zu jenen Missbrauchsopfern, die der Papst im Juli im Vatikan traf. Saunders ist neben der Irin Marie Collins das zweite Missbrauchsopfer in der Kommission.

Franziskus berief zudem Fachleute aus Südafrika, Sambia und den Philippinen in das im März gegründete Gremium. Die Erweiterung auf jetzt 17 Mitglieder diene dazu, die Kontinente mit ihren unterschiedlichen Kulturen und Situationen abzubilden, so der Vatikan.

Papst beruft Missbrauchsopfer in Kinderschutzkommission


Peter Saunders ist Gründer einer Vereinigung von Betroffenen und gehörte zu den Missbrauchsopfern, die der Papst im Juli im Vatikan getroffen hatte.

Vatikanstadt, kath.net/KAP, 17. Dezember 2014

Papst Franziskus hat neun weitere Mitglieder für die vatikanische Kinderschutzkommission ernannt. Er berief unter anderem ein weiteres Opfer sexuellen Missbrauchs in das Gremium, wie aus der vatikanischen Mitteilung vom Mittwoch hervorgeht. Der Brite Peter Saunders ist Gründer einer Vereinigung von Betroffenen. Er gehörte zu den Missbrauchsopfern, die der Papst im Juli im Vatikan getroffen hatte. Saunders ist neben der Irin Marie Collins das zweite Missbrauchsopfer in der Kommission.

Franziskus berief zudem Fachleute aus Südafrika, Sambia und den Philippinen in das im März gegründete Gremium. Die Erweiterung auf jetzt 17 Mitglieder diene dazu, die Kontinente mit ihren unterschiedlichen Kulturen und Situationen abzubilden, so der Vatikan.

GetGetReligion: Insane editorializing

Religion News Service - Spiritual Politics

Mark Silk | Dec 18, 2014

Today’s lesson concerns charging reporters with smuggling opinions into news stories. Exhibit A comes by way of the redoubtable Mollie Z. Hemingway, formerly of GetReligion and now senior editor at The Federalist. Still on the lookout for distortions by the liberal MSM, she took umbrage at the following paragraph from the AP story on the Vatican report on nuns a couple of days ago:

The [Vatican] probes also prompted an outpouring of support from rank-and-file American Catholics who viewed the investigations as a crackdown by a misogynistic, all-male Vatican hierarchy against the underpaid, underappreciated women who do the lion’s share of work running Catholic hospitals, schools and services for the poor.

Mollie tweeted; The American Conservative’s Rod Dreher replied (and it went on from there).

[screen shot]

For the record, it’s worth noting that there was indeed an outpouring of support for the nuns, as indicated by the May, 2012 RNS story that began, “Catholics around the U.S. are coming together for prayer vigils as a show of support for America’s nuns, whom the Vatican accuses of having ‘serious doctrinal problems.'” And it was Rome’s chief doctrine guy, Cardinal Gerhard Mueller, who invoked the M-word against critics of his investigation when he told Osservatore Romano in September, “Above all we have to clarify that we are not misogynists, we don’t want to gobble up a woman a day!” And the Vatican report itself makes mention of the nuns’ work in education, health care, and social services.

Tasmanian detectives seek ‘dead’ teacher

The Australian

DECEMBER 19, 2014

TWO Tasmanian detectives have arrived in New Zealand to interview an alleged pedophile teacher, who authorities had long believed was dead.

The officers are seeking to question Ronald Thomas over ­allegations — made in evidence to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse — that he abused two boys at Hobart’s elite Hutchins School. The allegations — relating to the 1960s when, the school now admits, a number of staff were pedophiles — have been publicly denied by the 77-year-old former English and music teacher.

Mr Thomas was named by the royal commission because it — and his alleged victims — believed him to be dead. Earlier this month, The Australian found Mr Thomas alive and enjoying his retirement in dairy country on New Zealand’s north island, after more than 40 years teaching across the Tasman.

Tasmania Police Assistant Commissioner Donna Adams yesterday announced a formal investigation into the allegations against Mr Thomas had been launched. “Police have spoken to the two former students who gave evidence to the royal commission (and) the men have indicated they would like the matters looked into by police,” Ms Adams said. “As a result, Tasmania Police have sent two detectives to interview Mr Thomas in New Zealand. Once the police investigation is concluded, a report will be provided to the DPP for review.”

OH--Cincy Catholic group challenged in court over child sex abuse

Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests

For immediate release: Thursday, Dec. 18

Statement by David Clohessy of St. Louis, Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests ( 314 566 9790, SNAPclohessy@aol.com , davidgclohessy@gmail.com )

Seven clerics with a Cincinnati-based Catholic group are accused of sexually abusing children in New Mexico, according to new court documents and the Gallup Independent newspaper. (Full article is below.) We call on the head of the group, Fr. Page Polk (pagepolk@franciscan.org, frankjasper@franciscan.org), to fully disclose their long-secret records about clergy sex crimes and cover ups.

The religious order, called the Franciscans, is located at 1615 Vine St. and 5000 Colerain (513-542-1082, 513-542-7999) in Cincinnati. For four decades, it has sent priests to the small Gallup diocese.

Five of the accused clerics are believed to be publicly named as alleged perpetrators for the first time: Ephrem Beltramea (listed as Ephraim Beltremea), Eugene Botello, Crispin Butz, Finnian Connolly and Clementin (listed as Clemetine) Wottle.

Besides making public their records about predators, we also urge the Franciscans to

---reveal every church facility where these seven accused clerics worked –in every state – and
---aggressively seek out anyone who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by them.

Fr. Mark Soehner handles abuse cases for the Franciscans. He is at 513-721-4700, extension 3214.

We also urge anyone with information or suspicions about Franciscsan clerics who may have committed or concealed child sex crimes to call police and prosecutors right away.

Priest jailed for sex abuse in boarding school

Irish Times

Louise Roseingrave

Thu, Dec 18, 2014

A retired priest has been jailed for three years for sexually and indecently assaulting two teenage boys while teaching at a Cork boarding school.

Fr Tadhg O’Dalaigh received a five year sentence with two years suspended for the sexual and indecent assault of two boys aged 14 and 16 in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.

Last month, Fr O’Dalaigh, a member of the Missionaries of the Sacred Heart was convicted of sexually assaulting a pupil at Coláiste An Chroí Naofa, Carrignavar, Co Cork, on an unknown date between March 1st and April 30th, 1979. The State alleged the incident took place in the school’s sick bay.

He was found unanimously guilty by a jury of 10 men and two women.

Fr O’Dalaigh (71) had previously pleaded guilty to five counts of indecent assault of another boy at the school between September 1st, 1982, and April 1st, 1983.

Archdiocese’s safe environment program to be audited onsite in 2015

The Catholic Spirit

This spring, an external agency will conduct an onsite audit of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ safe environment policies and procedures to determine compliance with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People.

In November, StoneBridge Business Partners of Rochester, N.Y., confirmed that the archdiocese met the data collection requirements for the 2013-2014 audit period.

The spring audit will include interviewing archdiocesan leaders responsible for each article of the Charter, checking source documentation for safe environment activities, and potentially conducting parish and school audits, according to Tim O’Malley, the archdiocese’s director of ministerial standards and safe environment.

The USCCB’s audit is conducted annually, with an onsite audit done every third year. For the 2013-2014 audit, the archdiocese submitted to StoneBridge for review data regarding alleged victims, accused clerics, adult and child safe environment training, background checks and information on how the data is collected and compiled.

Judge backs ex-Catholic brother's extradition

New Zealand Herald

Kurt Bayer

A decision by the New Zealand Government to extradite a former Catholic brother to Australia to face child-sex abuse charges has been backed by a High Court judge.

In a decision out today, Justice Cameron Mander has concluded that former Justice Minister Judith Collins made no error in deciding to extradite Bernard Kevin McGrath, 66, to stand trial on 250 charges of sexual offending.

An application to review the decision has been declined.

After several hearings at district and high court jurisdictions, it was left up to Ms Collins earlier this year to make a final decision on whether McGrath be extradited to Australia.

In August, after "careful consideration", Ms Collins issued an order for his surrender across the Tasman.

Catholic brother loses extradition appeal

The West Australian


A former Catholic brother has another round in his fight against an extradition from New Zealand to Australia to face 250 historical child sex charges.

Bernard Kevin McGrath, 66, was in court earlier this month seeking a judicial review of former NZ justice minister Judith Collins' decision to extradite him.

But on Wednesday, Justice Cameron Mander in the High Court at Christchurch found Ms Collins hadn't made any reviewable mistakes in her decision that McGrath be surrendered to Australia and declined the review.

McGrath had argued there had been breaches of suppression orders by Whale Oil blogger Cameron Slater that could have lead to bias given the friendly relationship between Mr Slater and Ms Collins.



A High Court judge today backed a decision by the New Zealand Government to extradite a former Catholic brother to Australia to face 250 charges of child-sex abuse charges.

Australia requested the extradition of Bernard Kevin McGrath, 66, in November 2012 alleging that he raped, molested and abused dozens of young boys at one of Australia’s most prominent Catholic religious orders – the St John of God Brothers between 1977 and 1986. According to court evidence the institution which specialized in accommodating boys, many of whom had intellectual disabilities, had an entrenched culture of sexual abuse.

Originally from New Zealand, McGrath joined the St John of God Brothers (SJOG) in the 1960s at the age of 18. He trained at the order’s headquarters in Sydney and spent most of his working life SJOG institutions both in Australia and New Zealand. In 1991 in New Zealand two social workers contacted the police after reports from boys that he had sexually molested them and he was tried and sentenced to three years jail. In 1995, after McGrath completed his New Zealand jail term, police took him back to Sydney, where he pleaded guilty and was sentenced in 1997 to nine months jail for offenses against another boy.

Families urge Pope to intervene in cult case

The Local

The parents of 'nuns' with a Spanish sect hit whose leader has been hit with sexual abuse charges have called on the Pope to help convince the young women to leave the order.

The women are followers of The Voice of the Serviam, whose leader, Feliciano Miguel Rosendo da Silva and his right-hand woman, self-proclaimed 'nun' Marta Paz Alonso, were detained on December 11th on charges that included sexual abuse, money laundering and crimes against moral integrity.

The sect was previously called the Mandate and Order of Saint Michael Archangel, with Roseado da Silva changing its name when he was expelled from the Roman Catholic diocese of Tui in Galicia for "inappropriate behaviour".

The sect had around 400 members at its peak, its choir singing for Pope Beneict XVI when he visited Madrid in 2011, but most of them left the group when Roseado Da Silva was expelled from Tui and moved to Madrid.

Roseado Da Silva’s arrest came a day after former members of the sect spoke out about the alleged sexual, physical and psychological abuse by the two leaders.

Vatican Report on American Nuns: Some Short Takes


William D. Lindsey

A few short takes on yesterday's report on American nuns by the Vatican Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life:

1. The report itself: I've read it, so you won't have to (you're welcome). As various media statements are saying, it's generally positive, though the praise is interlarded with some critical statements that reflect the well-seeded rumors of wealthy, powerful U.S. Catholics who got the ball rolling on Vatican investigtion of American nuns, when the nuns dared to claim influence in the U.S. public square equal to that of the bishops, as the latter did everything but stand on their heads in the past several election cycles to convince Catholics that voting Democratic would be sinful.

As you assess the positive aspects of the report, keep in mind that the investigation of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women by the congregation on consecrated life is only half of a two-pronged investigation. The other is being carried out by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, headed by the arch-conservative Cardinal Müller, a crony of the emeritus pope Benedict. That investigation report is expected to be far less positive than the one released yesterday was.

On the carping side, here's a statement that stood out for me as I read the report yesterday:

A review of the Constitutions and other directives of apostolic religious institutes generally revealed that institutes have written guidelines for the reception of the sacraments and sound spiritual practices. This Congregation asks the members of each institute to evaluate their actual practice of liturgical and common prayer. We ask them to discern what measures need to be taken to further foster the sisters’ intimate relationship with Christ and a healthy communal spirituality based on the Church’s sacramental life and sacred Scripture.

This statement stood out for a variety of reasons. In the first place, the report begins by acknowledging that religious women led the way after Vatican II in reflecting on the charisms of their various religious institutes, and in seeking to return to their founding charisms and live those charisms effectively in the church of the late 20th century. What the report didn't say but might well have said is that religious women set a standard in this regard that male religious communities and male clerics might have done well to emulate — but which male communities and clerics often actively refused to emulate. Because they have imagined women have nothing to teach them, and that Catholic truth resides exclusively among them as Catholic men of God. . . .

2. David Gibson thinks, however, that at least one effect of this report is that it demonstrates the following:

The church’s conservative echo chamber is broken.

I hope he's correct about that. But I have my doubts. Wealthy right-wing U.S. Catholics have had disproportionate influence in the Vatican for quite some time now. They're the ones driving the investigation of American nuns, since they want to silence nuns's voices as the U.S. bishops anoint the Republican party as God's chosen party for Catholics. And I'm not entirely sure their influence is waning, though it does appear that Pope Francis is willing to listen to more voices than these voices — and if that's the case, then it bodes well for the future of the church, it seems to me. If he chooses to act on some of what he hears from people outside the right-wing echo chamber, that is . . . .


Road to Recovery



A demonstration and leafleting outside a Catholic girls’ high school Christmas concert and celebration

On the public sidewalk outside Notre Dame School at 327 West 13th Street, NY, NY 10014

Thursday, December 18, 2014 from 5:00 until 6:30 PM

Cecilia Springer, an 84 year-old alumna of Notre Dame School, Class of 1948, who was approximately 14 years of age and a sophomore at Notre Dame School when the Principal of the school sexually abused her; Dr. Robert M. Hoatson, co-founder and President of Road to Recovery, Inc., a non-profit charity that assists sexual abuse victims and their families; and other supporters.

Cecilia Springer became a Sister of Saint Ursula following graduation from college even after she was sexually abused by a nun (Sr. Mary Andrew) at Notre Dame School. She left the Sisters of Saint Ursula many years later after it became unbearable for her to remain in a religious order of women which tolerated her sexual abuse of children at her alma mater, Notre Dame School. Cecilia Springer’s religious name was Sister Mary Grace. After being interviewed by representatives of the school and religious order, the Sisters of Saint Ursula and Notre Dame School refused to offer her any assistance that will allow her to live a decent life as a senior citizen. Cecilia Springer and her supporters will call on Notre Dame School and the Sisters of Saint Ursula to do the right thing by acknowledging that Cecilia Springer is, indeed, a sexual abuse victim of Sister Mary Andrew, apologizing for what happened to her, and assisting her to live a life that is more free of worry and directed toward healing.

Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D., Road to Recovery, Inc. – 862-368-2800
Attorney Mitchell Garabedian, Boston, MA – 617-523-6250

AFN Welcomes Court Decision to Extend Deadline ...


AFN Welcomes Court Decision to Extend Deadline for Indian Residential Schools Personal Credits for Education Program

OTTAWA, December 17, 2014 /CNW/ - Assembly of First Nations (AFN) National Chief Perry Bellegarde is pleased with today's court decision to extend the deadlines for the Indian residential schools personal credits for education program, and wants to see existing administrative concerns addressed quickly so that residential schools survivors can more easily access the program.

"I'm pleased that all parties to the Settlement Agreement have agreed to extend the deadlines and that residential schools survivors will now have additional time to apply to the personal credits program," said AFN National Chief Perry Bellegarde. "The Assembly of First Nations has pressed for this extension in response to the serious administrative concerns expressed by survivors and family members across the country. The extension does not solve all the challenges of the program, but it will allow us more time to continue to offer support to survivors interested in using the credits for education programs and services."

New deadline dates will be determined once the court order is signed by all parties, but today's court ruling will allow for a two month extension from the date of the court order to submit the personal credits acknowledgement form and a five month extension from the date of court order to submit the personal credits redemption forms. All education programs and services must be concluded by August 31, 2015.