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December 31, 2017

Some Questions about “The Keepers”

Huffington Post

December 31, 2017

By Tim Lynch, Contributor
Attorney specializing in criminal law and civil liberties

The Keepers” is a riveting documentary about two unsolved murders and sexual abuse at a Catholic high school for girls in the City of Baltimore called Bishop Keough. On a scale of 1 to 10, it’s a 10 —so all Netflix subscribers are encouraged to see this one. Spoiler Alert: This post will be examining various aspects of the documentary—so for those who have not yet seen the whole thing, you may wish to stop right here and return later on.

Even though I highly recommend this documentary, I was perplexed by a few things. At the end of the series, we meet Charles Franz, the dentist. He is portrayed as a key figure because his mother lodged a complaint with the Catholic Church in Baltimore that Maskell had been abusing her son. The Church didn’t deny the allegations, but moved Maskell elsewhere—actually to Bishop Keough High School. This is important because the Church would later claim that it had no knowledge of Maskell’s criminal conduct until Jean came forward in 1992.

15 recommendations from the royal commission into child sexual abuse you should know about

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 17, 2017

The final report from the almost five-year royal commission into child sexual abuse was officially handed to the Governor-General this morning.

The document is tens of thousands of pages long, and contains a total of 409 recommendations which aim to make institutions safer for children.

Of those 409 recommendations, 189 recommendations are new today.

You can follow our live blog for updates as we continue to read through the report. But if you're strapped for time, here are some of the big ones you should know about.

For religious institutions:

- The ministry of churches (not just the Catholic Church) should not be exempt from reporting information discovered in religious confession.

- Any religious organisation with a rite of religious confession should implement a policy that confession for children be conducted in an open space and in a clear line of sight of another adult.

- The Australian Catholic Church should request permission from the Vatican to introduce voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy.

- Candidates for religious ministry should undergo external psychological testing, including psychosexual assessment, to determine their suitability to be in the ministry and to undertake work involving children.

- Any person in religious ministry who is the subject of a complaint of child sexual abuse which is substantiated ... or who is convicted of an offence relating to child sexual abuse, should be permanently removed from ministry.

Student priests believe it's time for the Catholic Church to evolve

ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corp.) Radio

By Isabella Higgins on AM


More scrutiny than ever is upon the powerful leadership in Australia's Catholic Church, following damning findings in the Child Abuse Royal Commission.

The commission made recommendations for the church to break with centuries of tradition and remove the sanctity of confessional and make celibacy for priests voluntary.

Senior Australian church leaders have already made it clear they don't support those changes, but a new generation of priests is promising to do things differently.

Duration: 2min 49sec

Broadcast: Mon 1 Jan 2018, 7:14am


Tom Duncan, seminarian, Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane
Minje Kim, seminarian, Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane
Ashwin Ancharya, seminarian, Holy Spirit Seminary, Brisbane

Pope Francis Visits Chile and Peru: Sex Abuse, Politics and Opus Dei

The Open Tabernacle

December 30, 2017

By Betty Clermont

This is the pope’s sixth trip to the region with which he is most familiar. But this one is different. This is the first time he will face a populace aware of both his indifference, at best, to victims of sexual abuse and, at worse, his efforts to shield the perpetrators. In addition, there is a consistent pattern of issues, as well as an alliance of powerful elites from church and state, in both countries.

Pope Francis will face significant hostility when he visits Chile Jan. 15 – 18. Demonstrations have been planned to protest his response to clerical sex abuse.

There had been a near riot in Osorno when Pope Francis assigned Juan Barros Madrid as bishop in 2015. Victims of the sexual predator, Fr. Fernando Karadima, accused Barros of sometimes being present while Karadima abused them and then covering-up for the priest.

More than 1,300 Osorno Catholics, along with some 30 priests from the diocese and 51 of 120 members of Chile’s Parliament, sent letters to Pope Francis urging him to rescind the appointment. The Laity of Osorno organization also sent innumerable letters with the same request “to the Apostolic Palace, the Vatican embassy, bishops, cardinals, friends of the pope and other Vatican officials. They did not receive an answer, although it was confirmed that the letters had been received.”

Pope Francis was asked to tape a personal message via video for Osorno Catholics. He told them, “The Church has lost (part of its) freedom by allowing politicians to put ideas in the heads (of Church members), by judging a bishop without any proof after 20 years in service. Think with your heads and don’t be carried away by any accusations made by lefties.”

Couple leaves words 'priest rapist' off Wheaton cemetery tombstone

Chicago Daily Herald

December 30, 2017

By Chacour Koop

"She supported priest rapist victims" is not chiseled into the grave marker for Jack Ruhl's mother.

Instead, the tombstone he and his wife, Diane Ruhl, installed at Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton a few days before Christmas says, "She supported priest sexual abuse victims."

It's a compromise the Michigan couple made with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, which called the proposed wording too explicit. Ruhl conceded that this was the best he could do for his mother, Marguerite N. Ridgeway of Lisle, who died in July 2015.

"Nowadays and for some time, there's been so much ambiguity about what sexual abuse is," Ruhl said in a phone interview Saturday. "I wanted to use the word rape because to me it stands for the most extreme, dehumanizing act one person can inflict upon another."

Ridgeway converted to Catholicism after her marriage and was devout for many years until she learned of allegations that a priest had sexually abused Diane Ruhl, her daughter-in-law, Ruhl said.

Opinion: Death of disgraced cardinal reveals a truth we’d rather ignore about the Catholic Church

Norwich Bulletin

December 31, 2017

By Melinda Henneberger

Twelve years ago, after the death of Pope John Paul II, I watched a man who will go down in history as a fierce protector of child rapists process into St. Peter’s to celebrate one of the nine masses that traditionally follow the death of a pontiff.

On that day, Cardinal Bernard Law, who died recently at 86, had already resigned in disgrace from his post as archbishop of Boston. He’d lost his stroke with the White House, too, after the Boston Globe revealed the full extent of the clerical sex abuse scandal that Law’s cover-up had both delayed and compounded.

In exile in Rome, Law was a pariah but also a man who retained some vestiges of power, especially on the key committee that helps choose bishops; if Catholics didn’t invent having it both ways, we certainly have long experience in it.

On the day in 2005 that Law eulogized his own protector, John Paul, I wrote that he should have stayed home instead of showing up as he did, surrounded by a security detail that treated the two American survivors of clerical abuse who’d come to peacefully protest outside the basilica as if they were the criminals.

Michigan man reaches compromise with diocese over his mother's controversial gravestone epitaph referencing church sex crimes

Associated Press, as it appeared in The Daily Mail

December 31, 2017

Jack Ruhl of Michigan wanted to install a gravestone on his mother Marguerite Ridgeway's grave in Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton, Illinois

He wanted her epitaph to read: 'She supported priest rapist victims;' the Roman Catholic Diocese did not agree to the use of the word 'rapist'

A compromise was reached for the gravestone which was installed December 22

It now reads: 'She supported priest sexual abuse victims'

Ridgeway had been a devout Catholic before she became disillusioned with the church over its handling of its sex abuse scandal

A man who wanted to install a gravestone at a suburban Chicago cemetery that proclaimed his late mother's support for victims of 'rapist' priests has reached a resolution with a Roman Catholic diocese.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet refused to allow the proposed marker for Marguerite Ridgeway because it included what the diocese called 'explicit language'.

December 30, 2017

Let's salute the true heroes of 2017

Brisbane Times

December 29, 2017

By Julia Baird

[Note: For more on Joanne McCarthy, see From Darkness, a Light Starts to Shine, by Ian Kirkwood, Newcastle Herald, December 14, 2017 and There Will Be a Royal Commission Because There Must Be, by Joanne McCarthy, Newcastle Herald, August 3, 2012. See also the Newcastle Herald's coverage of the abuse crisis.]

This year, when cart-wheeling down streets to usher in the new year, take a moment to hat-tip the legends of the one ending.

Here's my list of some icons of 2017, each a reminder of the change that a determined individual can make.

* * *

5. The fifth is investigative journalists. We can all thank scammer Jaime Phillips, who tried to get the Washington Post to run a false story, only to have them challenge her inconsistencies, thereby underlining how rigorous and scrupulous reporters have to be in breaking the kinds of stories that have roiled 2017 and toppled the likes of Harvey Weinstein. Another mention must go to Joanne McCarthy, whose relentless reporting for the Newcastle Herald about sex abuse of children in the church promoted a royal commission. The fruits of this reporting were seen in the stunning, wide-ranging report handed down by Justice Peter McClellan a few weeks ago. Based on five years of intense, rigorous research and harrowing interviews, this is a massive achievement. And none of these reports could ever be printed without the courage of the victims.

John Corrigan, who pleaded guilty in church sex-abuse scandal, dies

Canadian Broadcasting Corporation

December 29, 2017

One of the first priests charged in connection with the Roman Catholic sex-abuse scandal in the 1980s has died.

In 1988 Father John Corrigan pleaded guilty to five charges of gross indecency and two counts of sexual assault on boys between the ages of 10 and 13.

Eight other charges originally filed against the priest were dropped. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Hollywood sex-abuse tsunami a new twist on a very old plot

The Herald

December 30, 2017

By Gail Lethbridge

The biggest surprise of 2017 was that anyone was surprised.

Never, it seems, have there been more pearls clutched, more sharp breath intakes, more heads shaken in disgust, as one Hollywood mogul after another went down in the wake of sexual assault allegations.

I’m not questioning the rightness of this. Of course it’s right that people are being held accountable for their actions.

But what perplexes me is that anyone should be surprised by the fact that powerful men in show business (or any other business, for that matter) would use their positions to get their way with less powerful people.

* * *

Anyone who thinks it’s weird that a woman didn’t report an incident of sexual abuse need only look at the Catholic Church and connect the dots. Like the altar boys, that woman knew she wouldn’t be believed — or worse, punished if she spoke out.

After dispute over epitaph, tombstone at Catholic cemetery reads: She supported priest sexual abuse victims

Chicago Tribune

December 30, 2017

By Angie Leventis Lourgos

[Note: The article includes a video interview with Jack and Diane Ruhl.]

A son says his late mother finally will be able to rest in peace now that a dispute with a Catholic cemetery over her controversial grave marker has been resolved.

Marguerite Ridgeway, of west suburban Lisle, was a faithful Catholic before church sex abuse scandals came to light, including decades-old trauma recounted by her daughter-in-law. Before her 2015 death, Ridgeway closely followed the stories of abuse victims locally and across the country, and her outrage ultimately spurred a break with the church she once loved, according to her son, Jack Ruhl, of Kalamazoo, Mich.

In October, Ruhl had proposed the marker at her grave at Assumption Cemetery in Wheaton bear the message “She supported priest rapist victims.” But the Roman Catholic Diocese of Joliet, which owns the cemetery, took issue with what it called the “explicit language” of the inscription, calling the word rapist “graphic, offensive and shocking to the senses.”

After compromising with diocese officials, Ruhl recently settled on an alternate epitaph: “She supported priest sexual abuse victims.” He and his wife, Diane Ruhl, who was one of several women who filed lawsuits in 2003 alleging sexual abuse by a Jesuit priest [Fr. John J. Powell SJ] decades ago, drove the 2-foot-long gray granite headstone roughly 175 miles from their Michigan home to Ridgeway’s grave, where it was installed Dec. 22.

Millennials Fueling Resurgence in Candidates for Priesthood

Associated Press

December 30, 2017

By Dan Horn

Millennials seeking to become Catholic priests are being credited with an increase in enrollment at an Ohio seminary.

The Rev. Benedict O'Cinnsealaigh looks out his office window at the courtyard below, marveling at how much his view has changed in just a few weeks.

Once home to green grass and well-manicured shrubs, the courtyard is now a muddy mess. Heavy equipment rumbles throughout the day and temporary fences surround ditches and overturned earth.

O'Cinnsealaigh thinks it's beautiful. As president of Mount St. Mary's Seminary at The Athenaeum of Ohio, he knows what this big construction project means for the Catholic Church in Cincinnati.

"We have a future here," he says.

* * *

Their generation came of age as society was becoming less religious overall and as the Catholic Church was suffering through a yearslong clergy abuse crisis that tested their faith in Catholic institutions.

Yet no generation today is providing more men to lead the church than millennials. Nationally, three of every four seminarians are 34 years old or younger. At the Athenaeum, where seminarians in their 30s and 40s once dominated the ranks, the average age is 28.

2017 Year in Review - Story No. 5: Vatican tribunal, $500M in sex abuse lawsuits

Guam Daily Post

December 30, 2017

By Mindy Aguon

Coadjutor Archbishop Michael Byrnes had hoped 2017 would be a year of reparation. It turned into a year of more than 100 sex abuse lawsuits, a canonical trial and efforts to fix a broken Catholic Church on Guam.

At the start of the year, Byrnes gave the island's Catholic faithful assurance that he would work to regain their “tremendous loss of trust” in the Catholic Church, after suspended Archbishop Anthony Apuron left the island amid allegations that he sexually abused altar boys decades ago when he was a priest.

Apuron faces penal charges in connection with the allegations, prompting a Vatican tribunal’s visit to Guam in February to interview Apuron’s accusers and other individuals related to their inquiry.

Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, the judge of the tribunal; Rev. Justin Wachs, the notary; and other members of the Vatican tribunal came to Guam in hopes of gaining insight into the allegations made against Apuron and to hear from his accusers personally. The interviews with Apuron’s accusers occurred off-island several weeks later.

Former Newfoundland and Labrador priest John Corrigan convicted in sexual abuse scandal dead at 86

The Telegram

December 30, 2017

[See also the two reports referenced below: the Hughes Report (Volume 1 and Volume 2); and the Winter Report (Volume 1, Volume 2, and the Conclusions and Recommendations). The Winter Report includes a section on Corrigan.

John Corrigan, a Roman Catholic priest once convicted in connection with the sexual abuse scandal that took place in the late 1980s died Thursday.

He was 86.

In December 1988, Corrigan pleaded guilty to five charges of gross indecency and two charges of sexual assault on young boys who ranged in ages from 10 to 13. He received a five-year prison sentence.

Eight other charges originally filed against Corrigan were dropped.

* * *

Corrigan’s guilty plea came only two months after another Roman Catholic priest, Father James Hickey, also of St. John’s, was sentenced to five years in prison for sexually assaulting altar boys over 18 years. Hickey pleaded guilty to 20 offences and was sent to Dorchester penitentiary in New Brunswick to serve his sentence. He passed away in 1992.

Corrigan’s and Hickey’s convictions resulted in an investigation into sexual abuse at Mount Cashel Boys’ Orphanage to be reopened in February 1989.

A month later, former Mount Cashel resident Shane Earle went public with his story, triggering huge public reaction.

The provincial government took action, establishing a royal commission of inquiry, chaired by retired Ontario Supreme court Judge Samuel Hughes, to investigate how the justice system had handled complaints at Mount Cashel. The 156-day hearing saw more than 200 witnesses testify.

According to reports, Hughes concluded that that neither the RNC nor the justice department handled the 1975 and 1976 Mount Cashel files normally. It was found that government had acted improperly by giving Mount Cashel privileged status as a foster home.

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. John's also commissioned an inquiry in 1989 into the sexual abuse of boys by members of the clergy and Christian Brothers.

December 29, 2017

8 Stories That Made A Difference In Hawaii This Year

Honolulu Civil Beat

December 29, 2017

By Landess Kearns

Deep-dive investigations, dogged daily coverage and a multimedia journey to exotic islands were all part of Civil Beat’s efforts in 2017.


6. Faith Betrayed

Earlier this year, reporter Anita Hofschneider traveled to Guam to report on the more than 100 people who filed lawsuits against the Catholic Church alleging sex abuse by priests.

On an island where indigenous culture and Catholicism are deeply intertwined, the situation is agonizing for everyone involved. In our special report, “Faith Betrayed,” read and hear the stories of the survivors themselves.

You can also learn more from an accompanying Offshore podcast, “Confronting Faith,” that further explores how people on Guam are reexamining their culture and faith in the wake of the scandal.

This project was made possible by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting.

Priest Convicted In Mount Cashel Abuse Passes Away


December 29, 2017

Roman Catholic priest convicted of sexually assaulting young boys in St. John’s in the 80s has passed away.

Father John Corrigan was found guilty of gross indecency and sexual offences against young boys in 1988. He was convicted along with Father James Hickey. Their convictions led to the reopening of the Mount Cashel investigation.

Family members have confirmed for VOCM News that the former priest died yesterday in St. John’s.

U.S. Church in 2017: Debates over pastoral priorities and approaches


December 28, 2017

By Christopher White

[Editors note: This is part two of Crux national correspondent Christopher White’s look back at the U.S. Church in 2017. In part one, he examined the Church’s engagement in the public square over the past year.]

NEW YORK - While the Church’s engagement in the public square is often what attracts major headlines - and 2017 did not disappoint as yesterday’s recap chronicled - the behind-the-scenes internal workings, and indeed, controversies, of the U.S. Church are equally important to remember.

These machinations help illuminate larger trends in Church life, and often inform and shape the Church’s external focus - and in that regard, 2017 proved to be a similarly critical year for life in the U.S. Church.

Universities face #MeToo movement over sexual harassment

Associated Press

December 28, 2017

By Maria Danilova

WASHINGTON (AP) — When Celeste Kidd was a graduate student of neuroscience at the University of Rochester she says a professor supervising her made her life unbearable by stalking her, making demeaning comments about her weight and talking about sex.

Ten years on and now a professor of neuroscience at the university, Kidd is taking legal action. She has filed a federal lawsuit against the school alleging that it mishandled its sexual harassment investigation into the professor's actions and then retaliated against her and her colleagues for reporting the misconduct.

"We are trying to bring transparency to a system that is corrupt," Kidd told The Associated Press.

Academia — like Hollywood, the media and Congress — is facing its own #MeToo movement over allegations of sexual misconduct. Brett Sokolow, who heads an association of sexual harassment investigators on campuses, estimates that the number of reported complaints has risen by about 10 percent since the accusations against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein surfaced in early October, spurring more women to speak out against harassment in various fields. The increase is mostly from women complaining of harassment by faculty members who are their superiors.

But the Trump administration has viewed the issue of sexual harassment on campus in a different light. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has scrapped Obama-era regulations on investigating sexual assault, arguing that they were skewed in favor of the accuser. New instructions allow universities to require higher standards of evidence when handling such complaints.

A forthcoming study of nearly 300 such cases in the Utah Law Review found that one in 10 female graduate students at major research universities reports being sexually harassed by a faculty member. And in more than half of those cases, the alleged perpetrator is a repeat offender, according to the study.

"Often schools might turn a blind eye toward sexual harassment that they know about or have heard about because a professor is bringing in a big grant or is adding to the stature of the university," said Neena Chaudhry, senior counsel at the National Women's Law Center.

The Education Department did not respond to a request for comment.

Duterte and Church set for showdown, Filipino journalist warns

The Catholic Register

December 28, 2017

By Jean Ko Din

An award-winning Philippines journalist fears his country’s Catholic Church is on a collision course with iron-fisted President Rodrigo Duterte.

“The president, who does not tolerate criticism, is fighting back,” said Manuel Mogato.

The veteran reporter for Reuters, who has faced threats and harassment for his coverage of Duterte’s regime, was in Toronto Dec. 5 to accept the 2017 Marshall McLuhan Fellowship Award. He was recognized for investigative reporting in a multimedia series titled “Duterte’s War.”

In the past year, Mogato said the Church has become even more vocal in condemning extra-judicial killings during a war on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives within the first year of Duterte’s presidency.

Attleboro's Tom Carroll remembered for seeking justice for abused children

The Sun Chronicle

December 29, 2017

By David Linton

ATTLEBORO -- For three decades Tom Carroll investigated the most heinous and notorious child abuse and child sex abuse cases throughout Bristol County.

They include the Father James Porter case, which started the avalanche of child sex abuse claims against priests in the Catholic Church that followed, and the Attleboro religious cult case in which a 6-month-old child was starved to death by his father in the name of God.

During the course of his career, first with the state Department of Social Services -- now called the Department of Children and Families -- and then as an investigator under three district attorneys, Carroll affected the lives of hundreds of other children as he sought justice for them, former colleagues and friends say.

Now, his hard work, sense of duty to children, devotion to his family, his friendship and sense of humor will be missed, his friends and former colleagues said Thursday.

Carroll, an Attleboro native, died Tuesday at the age of 64 after battling cancer.

"He was very dedicated. His goal was protecting children. He could sense when a child was in danger," retired Attleboro Detective Lt. Arthur Brillon said Thursday.

Catholic women join fight against sexual assault, solicit govt support


December 29, 2017

By Anayo Okoli

ENUGU—CATHOLIC female knights in Enugu have joined in the fight against rape and other forms of sexual abuse in Enugu and other parts of the South East zone.

To take their fight far, the women have appealed to Enugu State Government and other governments of the South East zone to partner with them in the fight.

As part of the awareness creation, the women, led by a former Minister of State for Education and Supervising Minister for Foreign Affairs, Prof. Viola Onwuliri, recently protested in some major streets in Enugu, which took them to the Government House, where they were received by the Deputy Governor, Mrs. Cecelia Ezeilo, who encouraged them and assured of the support of the government in the fight against the ill.

Represented by the State Commissioner for Gender Affairs, Mrs. Peace Nnaji, Ezeilo urged other organizations to join in the fight against the social ill through sensitization and advocacy.

She promised that Enugu State government would partner with the women in the fight against rape and other forms of sexual abuse and described the project as a welcomed development.

New Lawsuit Accuses FLDS Church Leadership Of Ritualistic Sex Abuse Of Children


December 28, 2017

A lawsuit filed last week accuses multiple FLDS Church leaders, including Warren Jeffs, of religious-based sex abuse of children as young as 8-years-old.

In a lawsuit filed on Wednesday against the leadership of the Fundamentalist LDS (FLDS) Church, an offshoot of the mainstream Mormon (LDS) Church, an unnamed 21-year-old woman identified publicly only as “R.H.” accused high-ranking FLDS leaders of ritualistic sexual abuse against girls as young as 8-years-old. Named as defendants in the lawsuit are FLDS Church president (and previous FBI “10 Most Wanted” fugitive) Warren Jeffs, brothers Lyle and Seth Jeffs, and previous FLDS Church leader Wendall Nielsen. All are accused of child sex abuse.

As Fox 13 Now reports, R.H. is targeting the relatively deep pockets of both the FLDS Church and its court-managed United Effort Plan Trust, which manages the controversial church’s real estate holdings. According to R.H., her reasons for filing the lawsuit are many and varied, not the least of which a concern that “certain parties” within the FLDS Church be held responsible for what she calls “religious-based systemic sexual abuse of young children.” Via a statement released by her legal team, R.H. claims that she believes that the ritualistic sexual abuse that she and others allegedly endured is still ongoing within the FLDS community, despite the fact that church leader and self-proclaimed “prophet” Warren Jeffs is serving a life sentence in Texas for similar crimes against children.

Sex Abuse Case Against Mormon Church Leaders to Go to Trial

Associated Press

December 29, 2017

A jury in West Virginia will hear the evidence against the Mormon Church in a lawsuit accusing local church officials of covering up allegations that the son of officials abused 12 children over more than five years.

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. (AP) — A jury in West Virginia will hear the evidence against the Mormon Church in a lawsuit accusing local church officials of covering up allegations that the son of officials abused 12 children over more than five years.

The Journal reports that the lawsuit filed by children who were between the ages of 3 and 12 when they say they were sexually abused by Christopher Michael Jensen will go to trial Jan. 8 in Berkeley County. Jensen was sentenced in 2013 to 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors.

The lawsuit was initially filed in 2013, and accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and its leaders of covering up the abuse, enabling Jensen to commit further acts and trying to intimidate plaintiffs' families.

Judge Orders Parties Involved in Archdiocese Bankruptcy Case to Return to Mediation


December 28, 2017

By Rebecca Omastiak

A judge has denied reorganization plans from the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and the Creditor's Committee.

The archdiocese originally filed its reorganization plan in its bankruptcy case in May 2016. The Creditor's Committee also submitted a request the archdiocese's assets be consolidated, which was denied.

In December 2016, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel allowed both plans to be moved to a vote. A group of more than 400 clergy abuse victims rejected the reorganization plan.

Judge denies Twins Cities Archdiocese bankruptcy plans


December 28, 2017

By Karen Scullin

ST. PAUL, Minn. (KMSP) - A bankruptcy judge denied the Archdiocese’s reorganization plan, but also a competing plan made by the Creditor’s Committee, which represents the victims of clergy abuse.

The judge sent all parties to mediation along with the insurance companies involved. Despite both plans being rejected, including the plan the victims were in favor of, the victim’s attorney actually sees the denial as a good thing because the victims’ voices are finally being heard.

In the order, the judge was highly critical of the parties involved, except the victims. He pointed out that the bickering has gone on much too long and that some of the victims are in fact passing away without a resolution. He criticized the Archdiocese for minimizing the complaints and the pain, the parishes who have been quick to blame the Archdiocese and the victim’s lawyers for their very high fees. He also stated he believes the parishes should probably contribute to the compensation fund.

Judge rejects archdiocese bankruptcy plans, orders return to mediation

WASECA County News

December 28, 2017

By Martin Moylan

A federal judge has rejected competing reorganization plans for the the bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and ordered the church and its creditors back into mediation.

In orders released Thursday, Judge Robert Kressel said plans put forth by the archdiocese and a creditors committee made up largely of sexual abuse victims both had shortcomings.

Among other things, the judge noted that the archdiocese plan offering about $155 million had been overwhelmingly rejected in a vote of abuse victims. And Kressel said flaws in the plan advanced by abuse victims included an unrealistic reliance on lawsuits against third-parties to raise money for victims.

Kressel said he expects all parties to reach a consensual plan “providing appropriate and timely compensation to those who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of those employed by or affiliated with the Archdiocese.”

An attorney representing victims of clergy sex abuse welcomed the nudge to resume settlement discussions.

“This order gives us and the survivors the opportunity to expedite a resolution and reach a consensual plan,” said attorney Jeff Anderson.

Letter: Pornography is fueling epidemic

Albert Lea Tribune

December 28, 2017

“For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.” — Luke 8:17

Recently, the issue of sexual abuse has come to light in a big way. We first became aware of it with the clergy abuse scandals, and now it has been extended to include big name politicians, Hollywood celebrities, high profile news anchors, as well as many others in positions of power who have been exposed by their multiple victims. This issue was never limited to one segment of society. In fact, we are finding out that sexual abuse, in its many forms, tends to cut across all of society, including our schools.

Sadly, we are reaping what we have sown. Pornography has been a major factor in fueling this epidemic. I once heard it said that pornography was hard to define, but you know it when you see it. Even the innocent are constantly exposed to various forms of it from the checkout lines at stores to the bombardment of ads we see daily in print media, television and on the internet. This is roughly a $12 billion a year industry in the U.S. alone and has very long tentacles, that by design, have drawn the unwary deeper and deeper into it. This has resulted in devastating effects on marriages, relationships and family life in general. It has far surpassed the level of being an epidemic, yet it gets very little play from the media, politicians or even faith communities. Sadly, there are many in places of power who do all they can to assure it continues unabated.

The natural result of this epidemic is evidenced in the fact that when human dignity is removed, women in particular are viewed as objects to be used and not seen as persons to be loved, made in the image and likeness of God. Just as we cannot effectively treat a disease without knowing the underlying cause, nor can we expect persons to treat others with love and dignity when rotten seeds have been sown among us. There seems to be wide evidence of this and we must all work together to change the culture that has led to it.

“God assigns as a duty to every man, the dignity of every woman.” — St. John Paul II

Scott Bute


Judge overseeing Twin Cities archdiocese’s bankruptcy case rejects both sides’ plans

Pioneer Press

December 28, 2017

By Sarah Horner

A federal bankruptcy judge has rejected both the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis’ and a group of sexual abuse survivors’ proposed bankruptcy reorganization plans, which would have guided the payout to victims of abusive clergy.

The ruling issued Thursday by U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Robert Kressel sends both parties back to the negotiating table with instructions to “put aside their desire to win” so a “resolution that is fair to all of the people involved” can be achieved.

“The (survivors) must put aside (their) desire for retribution,” according to the judge’s memo filed in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Paul. “After all, whatever else the archdiocese is, it is a corporation. (And) corporations do not suffer; only people suffer.”

The Roman Catholic archdiocese will also need to shift priorities, Kressel wrote, in particular its “desire to minimize pain” to its current system and employees.

“The personal pain its employees inflicted upon victims is inevitably going to result in financial pain being suffered by a new generation of parishioners and employees,” he wrote.

Judge denies Twin Cities archdiocese bankruptcy plans

The Associated Press

December 29, 2017

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — An attorney for victims for clergy sex abuse said Thursday that a judge has ordered all sides back to mediation in the years-long bankruptcy case of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, but he said the ruling will quicken the process of getting payments to victims.

The judge denied both the archdiocese’s reorganization plan and a competing plan submitted by a creditors’ committee before ordering all sides back into negotiations, St. Paul attorney Jeff Anderson said. The archdiocese filed for bankruptcy protection in 2015, as it faced an onslaught of new abuse allegations.

Anderson said the judge’s decision means “there will be a speedier resolution” than either plan could have offered. A spokesman for the archdiocese did not immediately reply to messages for comment.

Survivors Reveal Rampant Child Abuse At Amarillo Ranch For At-Risk Boys

Texas Standard via KUT 90.5

December 29, 2017

By Laura Rice

There’s a city of sorts in the Texas Panhandle that really isn’t a regular city at all. It has a post office, a museum, and a church – but other than that, it’s mostly just homes, dorms, and school buildings. Boys Ranch, Texas is home to Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch, a residential community for at-risk children. It’s been serving this purpose for close to 80 years. But now, some former residents say it’s Boys Ranch itself that really put them at risk.

Jason Wilson writes in the Guardian about more than a decade’s worth of allegations of physical, sexual, and emotional abuse at Cal Farley’s Boys Ranch.

Wilson says Steve Smith lived at the ranch with his younger brother Rick Smith in the late 1950s through the 1960s.

“He detailed the most shocking abuse really,” Wilson says. “And as I talked to him, his brother, and the other men, it became clear that although there were sort of these spectacular incidents of violence – one man told me about running away and being chased back to the ranch by two men on horseback – there was also just the regular everyday physical punishment, discipline, and I guess emotional abuse or emotional neglect, that it seemed according to these men that was just part of the regular running of the place.”

December 28, 2017

Web Exclusive: Bishop Oscar Solis on controversy in the Catholic Church [with video]


December 28, 2017

By Maren Jensen

(KUTV) In the past, the Catholic Church has faced some controversy, including news about some priests involved in sexual abuse of children.

"The Church has not been a perfect church," said Bishop Oscar Solis. "It is perfect because God is there, but the administration of the church is run by human persons--flawed, weak, broken. So it's expected."

Solis believes that those times are times the Church and its leaders need to take a moment to self-evaluate what they might be doing wrong so they can set things right.

"It makes our church better, we serve our community better, by seeing to it that the people we serve are in a safer place, in a safe environment, where they're respected," he said.

"It's a challenge for us. It's a sad moment in our life, in our history, and we hope and we wish that it didn't happen."

'Reform': Lone protester targets St Patrick's over Christmas

The Gympie Times

December 29, 2017

By Scott Kovacevic

THE findings of the Royal Commission into child abuse has made a Gympie man launch his own crusade in the hope of reforming one of the region's biggest parishes.

Over the past week, Frank Lightfoot has been protesting with homemade signs calling for the reform of the Catholic Church following the release of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

And he has not been subtle about his passion.

He has already set up camp outside St Patrick's Church in the lead-up to Christmas, and said that on the first day someone called the police in the hope they would move him on.

A former Catholic himself, the 71-year-old said he had a personal connection to the child abuse controversy.

"I encourage renewal because a lot of my family members are impacted by this,” Mr Lightfoot said.

Asked if setting up outside the church before and on Christmas might be poking the bear, Mr Lightfoot said there was no better time.

"It makes sense to go to St Pat's on the one day when they have a good turnout,” he said.

And not everyone was happy about it, either.

"There's a few people that had a go at me,” he said.

"One bloke offered to kick my sign down.”

"Another bloke was also very angry that the sign only deals with the Catholic church. He said 'what about all the others?' I said give me a chance, I've only just started.”

Judge rejects archdiocese bankruptcy plans, orders return to mediation

MPR News

December 28, 2017

By Martin Moylan

A federal judge has rejected competing reorganization plans for the the bankrupt Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and ordered the church and its creditors back into mediation.

In orders released Thursday, Judge Robert Kressel said plans put forth by the archdiocese and a creditors committee made up largely of sexual abuse victims both had shortcomings.

Among other things, the judge noted that the archdiocese plan offering about $155 million had been overwhelmingly rejected in a vote of abuse victims. And Kressel said flaws in the plan advanced by abuse victims included an unrealistic reliance on lawsuits against third-parties to raise money for victims.

Kressel said he expects all parties to reach a consensual plan "providing appropriate and timely compensation to those who have suffered sexual abuse at the hands of those employed by or affiliated with the Archdiocese."

An attorney representing victims of clergy sex abuse welcomed the nudge to resume settlement discussions.

Dozens come forward to report abuse by Jehovah’s Witnesses

Dutch News

December 28, 2017

Some 80 reports of sexual abuse involving the Jehovah’s Witnesses community have been made over the past month, Trouw said on Thursday.

In total, 50 reports were made to the hotline set up by the Reclaimed Voices foundation, while a further 30 were received by the newspaper after it published a report on the growing scandal earlier this month.

Frank Huiting, one of the foundation’s founders and himself an abuse victim, told the paper the scale of the problem is only now becoming clear. Most of the complaints have been made by people who have already left the church and this is of particular concern, Huiting said.

Law planned to stop sex offenders going abroad

The Times

December 28 2017

By Ed Carty

Proposed new legislation to ban paedophiles and sex offenders from foreign travel is to be unveiled in the new year.

Plans to expand the passport “stop list” have been drafted after Father Shay Cullen, the four-time Nobel peace prize nominee, called on western governments to tackle sex tourism.

Father Cullen, who has been working with street children in the Philippines since 1974, said paedophiles should be barred from going overseas in the same way as suspected terrorists.

“I expect the Irish people and the Dáil will support it and set an example for other EU countries,” he said.

Blue Creek Academy church sues insurance company

Charleston Gazette-Mail

December 28, 2017

By Lacie Pierson

Officials with Bible Baptist Church claim employees with the church’s insurance company lied about the church’s coverage amid a sexual abuse scandal at a church-sponsored school.

The church’s lawsuit against Brotherhood Mutual Insurance Company was assigned to U.S. District Court in Southern West Virginia on Dec. 22.

In the lawsuit, church officials say the insurance company and the church’s insurance agent, Stephen Peters, lied in a separate lawsuit in U.S. District Court about whether Blue Creek Academy was covered by the church’s insurance policy.

The church originally filed the lawsuit in Kanawha County Circuit Court on Sept. 28.

The lawsuit that was moved up to district court this month was filed by Pastor James Waldeck, along with Darrell Baker, Howard Prease and Michael V. Minnick, who are trustees at the church.

The insurance company and Peters are the only defendants named in the latest lawsuit.

On Dec. 7, U.S. District Judge Thomas Johnston dismissed a lawsuit filed against the church by the insurance company.

Officials with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources removed students from Blue Creek Academy in 2014.

In 2015 and 2016, two lawsuits were filed on behalf of former Blue Creek students, who said they were starved, physically abused and sexually assaulted at the school.

In the latest lawsuit, church officials said Waldeck submitted requests for coverage seeking defense and indemnification from the insurance company in relation to the lawsuits filed on behalf of the former students.

Jury to hear case against Mormon Church, officials

The Journal

December 28, 2017

By Kelsie LeRose

MARTINSBURG–A Berkeley County jury will hear the accusations and evidence against The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, otherwise known as the Mormon Church, and local church officials in early January for allegedly covering up allegations that the son of local church officials sexually abused 12 children over the course of more than five years.

The case against the church was initially investigated after Christopher Michael Jensen, of Martinsburg, was found guilty and sentenced on July 29, 2013 to 35 to 75 years in prison for sexually abusing two minors–4 and 3 years of age at the time of the abuse.

According to the office of 23rd Judicial Circuit Court Judge Christopher C. Wilkes, the pre-trial is scheduled for 9 a.m. Jan. 8 and the trial is set to begin on Jan. 9.

Filed in 2013, the lawsuit against the church accuses the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and church leaders of actively covering up the abuse and assisting Jensen in committing further acts by enabling him to babysit for and live with other church families with young children.

In 2007, before the alleged abuse of the children suing the church began, Martinsburg’s Stake High Council–whose members include Jensen’s parents–held a meeting, during which the alleged sexual abuse of two children by Jensen was allegedly discussed, the suit said.

The children suing the church were between the ages of 3 and 12 when they say they were sexually abused by Jensen.

The suit also alleges that the church, through its leaders, has tried to intimidate the families of the children suing the church and has allegedly directed fellow church members to try to convince them to abandon their claims “lest they run afoul of church teachings regarding forgiveness,” a copy of the suit reads.

Jensen was initially accused of sexually abusing young children in 2004 when he was 13-years-old. Living in Provo, Utah at the time, Jensen was arrested at his middle school and charged with two felony counts of sexual abuse for pinning two 12 and 13 year old females against a wall and fondling them inappropriately and without consent.

FLDS Church leaders facing lawsuit for sexual 'religious rituals' with underage girls

ABC4 Utah

December 27, 2017

By Kierra Dotson

Leaders with the Fundamentalists Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are being accused of sexual "religious rituals" with underage girls.

Court documents filed Wednesday say a victim came forward and told state officials leaders of the FLDS church watched, taped, and participated in several sexual encounters with underage girls between five and six times a week. The victims ages ranged from 8 years old to 14 years old.

"This horrific religious doctrine and religious rituals as performed on Plaintiff consisted of Plaintiff, beginning at the age of 8, having a bag placed over her head, led out of her house by representatives of the Defendants, placed in a vehicle, and being driven to an unknown location,' court documents said.

After polygamist leaders used underage girls for sex, lawsuit says, one teen was forced to be a scribe for the rituals

The Salt Lake Tribune

December 28, 2017

By Paighten Harkins

Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints President Warren Jeffs, along with other officials in the church and its former land trust, is accused of carrying out a “calculated plan” to sexually abuse underage girls as part of a religious ritual, according to a lawsuit filed Wednesday.

The lawsuit also cites for alleged wrongdoing the United Effort Plan Trust, Warren Jeffs’ brothers Lyle and Seth Jeffs, former FLDS President and convicted bigamist Wendell Nielsen, and the church.

The lawsuit filed in 3rd District Court alleges that as part of their FLDS beliefs, men have historically sexually abused and assaulted underage girls. However, under Warren Jeffs’ leadership, the lawsuit’s plaintiff — a 21-year-old woman identified as R.H. — says a new practice involving ritualistic sexual intercourse with young girls began.

Starting when she was 8 years old, the woman says, she would be taken from her home, wearing a bag over her head, to an unknown location — typically an FLDS temple in the Colorado City, Ariz., area or other church- or trust-owned properties — where she would be assigned a number for a religious ritual, according to the lawsuit.

There, she was reportedly sexually assaulted by the Jeffses, Nielsen or other church members and leaders. When the men weren’t assaulting her, she says, they watched.

The 21-year-old said Warren Jeffs warned her that if she told anyone about the abuse, according to the lawsuit, “God would destroy her and her family immediately.” He also reportedly said that if she cried during the ritual, “God would punish her.”

The rituals reportedly occurred five to six times a week until the woman turned 12. When she was 14 years old, the lawsuit alleges, she was forced to watch and document other girls’ ritualistic abuse with church leaders.

New lawsuit accuses FLDS Church leaders of ritualistic sex abuse


December 27, 2017

By Ben Winslow

SALT LAKE CITY -- A new lawsuit accuses Fundamentalist LDS Church leader Warren Jeffs and others in the church of ritualistic sex abuse involving girls as young as eight years old.

The lawsuit, filed Wednesday in state court by a 21-year-old woman only identified as "R.H.," levels allegations of abuse against Warren Jeffs, his brothers Lyle Jeffs and Seth Jeffs; and former FLDS leader Wendell Nielsen of sex abuse. It also goes after the FLDS Church and the court-controlled real-estate holdings arm, the United Effort Plan Trust.

"I have filed this lawsuit in order to hold certain parties accountable for the religious-based systemic sexual abuse of young children. Even though Warren Jeffs is in prison, it is my belief and personal experience that these abuses continue," R.H. said in a statement to FOX 13 released through her attorneys.

"It is my hope that the FLDS community will see that Warren Jeffs' communications and edicts should not be followed, as they have tragic consequences to the victims and legal consequences to his followers. I hope that filing this case will give strength to the many others who have been and are still being abused in the FLDS community and that the abuse done in the name of 'religion' will stop."

Uttar Pradesh: Priest Arrested For Molesting Girls In Vrindavan

The GenX Times

December 28, 2017

By Shweta Sachdeva

In a shocking incident, a priest in Vrindavan was reportedly thrashed for by a mob for allegedly molesting his two followers on Wednesday.

The incident was captured on camera which is been circulated on the social media platform.

It was believed that two female devotees from Maharashtra alleged that priest Baba Basudev Shastri has sexually assaulted them.

The video which is going viral has been seen thrashed with sticks and was held with his hair by a mob Mathura’s Vrindavan.

It was reported that the priest is earlier accused of molesting girls on several occasions, officials said.

Vrindavan priest held for rape of girls from Maharashtra

Times of India

December 28, 2017

By Anuja Jaiswal

AGRA: A 35-year-old Vrindavan katha vachak (one who recites religious texts for the audience), named Vasudev Giri, was arrested on Wednesday on charges of raping two girls from Maharashtra.

In a complaint to the police, the survivors have alleged that the suspect had been sexually exploiting them for the past three months. They claimed that they had come to him to learn recital of Bhagwad Gita.

Police said that they were tipped off about the case by a caller and when they reached Moti Jheel area, they found the local residents thrashing the katha vachak.

According to the police, the girls, who are around 18 years old, hail from Maharashtra. The suspect also reportedly hails from the same area.

UPDATE: Attorney blasts reinstatement of Dilworth-Hawley priest accused of sexually abusing teen


December 27, 2017

By Dave Olson

CROOKSTON, Minn. — An attorney representing a man who claims a Catholic priest sexually abused him as a teen expressed outrage Wednesday, Dec. 27, that the Crookston Diocese has reinstated the priest as pastor of the Dilworth and Hawley parishes.

The diocese announced on Tuesday, Dec. 26, that Father Patrick Sullivan resumed his priestly duties at St. Elizabeth's Parish in Dilworth and St. Andrew's Parish in Hawley. Sullivan had been placed on administrative leave after the abuse allegations surfaced in 2016.

The diocese said it had concluded that allegations of wrongdoing by Sullivan were unfounded.

The alleged victim’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, said a lawsuit would be filed sometime Wednesday relating to allegations involving Sullivan and a minor.

“The decision by the diocese and Bishop (Michael) Hoeppner to return Father Sullivan to ministry while the lawsuit is pending is reckless, because Father Sullivan poses a threat of harm to children,” Anderson said in a written statement.

Anderson also claimed that prior to allegations being made against Sullivan, the church possessed information that Sullivan posed a serious risk. “We believe Sullivan is still a risk to children and should not be reinstated,” Anderson said in the statement.

The diocese said Sullivan was placed on leave in April 2016 after the diocese was served with a civil complaint through Anderson’s office.

Opinion: Do right by the victims: Time to protect New York's children

New York Daily News

December 28, 2017

Next year will bring yet another attempt to overhaul New York’s antiquated statutes of limitations for victims of childhood sexual abuse — and it must be the last.

With exceptions for rape and other forcible violations, prosecutors have just five years after individuals victimized as children turn 18 to bring criminal charges, a constraint that has protected many a pedophile.

Victims have just until they are 21 years old to bring a civil complaint against organizations that may have been havens for predators.

At this #MeToo moment — in light of profound new public understanding why victims delay, sometimes for many years, reporting their abuse by those more powerful than they — this state must stand with victims and right a great wrong.

Gov. Cuomo ought to seize his chance to lead the way, in the spotlight of his State of the State Address next week and by attaching statute of limitations reform to the upcoming state budget.

While the state Assembly finally embraced reform last year, the Senate still stands stubbornly in the way, objecting to a measure that would empower not just future victims but, for a time, past ones to seek justice. Sharing that concern are religious and other organizations concerned about fending off costly lawsuits.

The Albany legislative session soon to start stands to be a game-changer. The past year has seen not only #MeToo but also a successful first round of victim compensation payments from the Archdiocese of New York that ward off future legal liability, meaning the powerful Catholic Church might reconsider.

Journalists in the movies present the dogged fight for truth — as in 'The Post' — as well as the scoundrels

The Los Angeles Tiimes

December 28, 2017

By Lewis Beale

Journalism isn’t exactly held in high esteem these days. Yet despite a recent USA Today poll that found nearly two-thirds of Americans disapprove of the mainstream media, that hasn’t deterred Hollywood’s fascination with the Fourth Estate, particularly its print component. In 2016, “Spotlight” won the best picture Oscar for its portrayal of Boston Globe reporters uncovering a sex abuse scandal within the Catholic Church, and now director Steven Spielberg’s “The Post,” starring Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep, details the Washington Post’s decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, a secret Defense Department report showing that the Johnson administration (among others) systematically lied about its conduct of the Vietnam War.

“I certainly hope that our movie makes people aware of the kind of effort that goes into searching for and seeking and printing the truth,” Spielberg has said. “This to me is a patriotic movie. I made this as a believer in the free press, in our 1st Amendment rights.”

In #MeToo movement Catholic Church can play role in discussion, healing

Catholic News Service via The Catholic Sun

December 28, 2017

By Carol Zimmermann

WASHINGTON (CNS) — The wave of accusations of sexual harassment, misconduct and assault from Hollywood to Capitol Hill and many places in between in recent months has been described as a revolution, a moment and a time for national reckoning.

The accused — abruptly fired or resigned — have issued apology statements or denied wrongdoing. Those who have come forward — predominantly women, but also some men emboldened by the solidarity of the #MeToo movement — were named “Silence Breakers” by Time magazine and honored as its 2017 Person of the Year.

“We’re still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution,” the Time article points out, stressing that for true social change to happen, private conversations on this issue are essential.

And that’s where some say the Catholic Church has something to offer both from its lessons learned — and how it could do more — to support victims and foster healing.

The U.S. Catholic Church — tarnished by the clergy sexual abuse scandal that made headlines in 2002 — has taken steps in all of its dioceses to address and prevent the abuse of young people and will keep doing this forever, according to Dcn. Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops’ Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection.

OUR VIEW: Church's handling of Cardinal Law's death inappropriate

The Sun Chronicle

December 28, 2017

Time, they say, heals all wounds.

Even if that were true — we all know someone grieving the loss of a loved one years after their death — it’s clear that not nearly enough time has passed since the Catholic Church’s clergy abuse scandal to salve the damage to its victims.

That’s one of two lessons learned from the death last week of Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former head of the Archdiocese of Boston.

Law covered up sexual abuse committed against children by dozens of priests before he was forced to resign in 2002 when the scandal, and his role in it, was exposed by The Boston Globe.

“With his passing, I say I hope the gates of hell are open wide to welcome him, because I feel no redemption for somebody like him is worthwhile,” Alexa MacPherson, a native of the Boston area who says she is a survivor of sexual abuse by a priest, told reporters after Law’s death on Dec. 19 at the age of 86.

Robert Costello, another Boston-area native who says that Law covered up for the cleric who abused him, had even stronger words: “Chop him up and put weights on every piece of body part that he has and drop him in oceans around the world.”

Those raw emotions are still felt in the Attleboro area, home to one of the Catholic Church’s first and most widespread scandals.

There are still dozens of victims of Father James Porter, who began his career at St. Mary’s Church in North Attleboro, living and working in this area. They, like MacPherson and Costello, know that the pain of sexual abuse by a trusted cleric never goes away.

Time never really heals that wound.

Drawing lessons from the life of Cardinal Bernard Law

National Catholic Reporter

December 27, 2017

For those trying to understand the legacy of Cardinal Bernard Law, Donna B. Doucette, executive director of Voice of the Faithful, may offer the most useful insight.

Doucette's organization grew out of the revelations of clergy sexually abusing children and its cover up that forced Law out of Boston in 2002, ripped the lid off a simmering cauldron of scandal, and made the sexual exploitation of children by clergy an issue of global concern. She says Catholics should learn three basic lessons from Law's legacy: "absolute power corrupts absolutely," "secrets destroy" and, for those interested in reforming church structures, "trust but verify."

Law died in Rome Dec. 20, 15 years after resigning as archbishop of Boston.

In the winter and spring of 2002 as the public began to learn the tragic, awful truth of how clergy had sexually abused minors, some 25 parishioners gathered at St. John the Evangelist Church in Wellesley, Massachusetts, offering to provide support and counsel to the archdiocese and the cardinal.

Within weeks, the group had swelled into the hundreds, but "they learned that Cardinal Law didn't want help from the laity," said Doucette. In retrospect, she said, it was because Law knew more disclosures of failure on sex abuse policy would eventually become public. It was becoming clear that church leaders had deliberately and systematically covered up these horrendous crimes for decades.

Give citizens a voice against injustice: Letters to the editor, Dec. 28

The Tennessean

December 28, 2017

Give citizens a voice against injustice

We have a societal tendency to give people in power undue benefit of the doubt at the expense of justice when faced with allegations of systemic abuse. Additionally, it is common that the pure chance of a victim's birth – their gender, race or economic conditions – will give enough cause to discredit their lived experience.

From sexual abuse (the Catholic Church; Hollywood; U.S. Gymnastics; Missoula, Mont.) to police brutality (throughout history and nationwide), the consequences have been deep and lasting. When the arc of the universe bends toward justice, the perspective of an independent agency has been necessary to right the consistent imbalance in power, privilege and protection.

Similar to the actions of the Diocese of the Catholic Church and the prosecutors office in Missoula protecting the status quo by any means necessary will not age well. Though there are very few cities that have been successful at maintaining the independence and empowerment of a citizens’ oversight board, many of which are implemented only after clear evidence of police brutality, there is a clear pattern of aggressive political and legal maneuvering by the Fraternal Order of Police in opposition to such measures.

Whatever the current landscape, be certain that the FOP tactics being used across the country, including the ones we've witnessed in Nashville over the last two months, will ultimately be viewed with the same disgust and chagrin as the institutional failings recounted in Jon Krakauer's Book, “Missoula” and in the movie, “Spotlight.”

We owe Nashville the chance to continue its storied civil rights history by leading the way in exemplifying the true achievement of a long-held goal of the movement with the implementation of a functioning Community Oversight Board (BL 2017-951).

Melissa Cherry, Nashville 37207

Minnesota priest accused of misconduct returns to public ministry; attorney calls move 'reckless'

Star Tribune

December 27, 2017

By Paul Walsh

Crookston bishop said clergy abuse panel "deemed the allegations not credible."

A Roman Catholic priest on leave from two northwestern Minnesota parishes for 20 months amid an allegation of sexual misconduct with a 15-year-old boy returned to public ministry in time to celebrate Christmas.

In a statement posted on the Diocese of Crookston website Saturday, Bishop Michael Hoeppner said its clergy abuse review panel scrutinized a deposition given by the accuser in a lawsuit “and deemed the allegations not credible.”

The diocese statement also pointed out that local and federal authorities investigated the allegations and that “no criminal charges were filed.” No other accusations have been leveled against the Rev. Patrick Sullivan, who has denied any wrongdoing.

Sullivan returned to his work at the same parishes where he had been before, St. Elizabeth’s in Dilworth and St. Andrew’s in Hawley, said the Rev. Mike Foltz of the Crookston diocese.

“He was there for Christmas,” Foltz said. “The people were ecstatic, from the children to the parents to the grandparents. They swarmed him with love and affection and hugs.”

His accuser, now an adult, said that the sexual misconduct occurred more than eight years ago, when Sullivan was pastor at St. Mary’s Mission Church in Red Lake.

The diocese panel, called the Board of Review for the Protection of Children and Young People, is composed of two social workers, a county sheriff, a police detective, an attorney and a diocesan priest.

The board’s ruling was unanimous, Foltz said.

Opinion: Cardinal Law's complex role in the contemporary history of clergy sexual abuse

National Catholic Reporter

December 28, 2017

By Thomas P. Doyle

Public awareness of sexual abuse by Catholic clergy actually dates from 1984. It was triggered by the public exposure of widespread sexual violation of children by a single priest in the Diocese of Lafayette, Louisiana, and its systemic cover-up by the church's leadership that lasted well over a decade.

Cardinal Bernard Law, who went from in 1974 being bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau, Missouri, to in 1984 being named archbishop of Boston, became the most powerful and influential Catholic bishop in the United States. This all came to a screeching halt in 2002. In one day Law became the face of hierarchical treachery and dishonesty when The Boston Globe revealed the systemic cover-up of widespread sexual abuse by Boston priests, most of it his doing. He remained the face of the hierarchy's disgraceful attitude towards the violation of minors and the vulnerable. Even in death he remains the focal point of the anger and rage of countless victims of sexual abuse by clergy — certainly Boston victims, but also others worldwide.

Law's role in the history of clergy abuse is more than the systemic cover-up in Boston. What is little known is the influential part he played in the early days when the extent and depravity of this evil was first exposed. In those very early days in 1984 and 1985, I believed that when the bishops realized the nature of sexual abuse and potential plague before them, they would lose no time in doing the right thing.

December 27, 2017

Lawsuit Seeks $70M from Montana Diocese for Abuse Victims

Insurance Journal

December 27, 2017

Representatives of sex abuse victims and their survivors are suing a bankrupt Roman Catholic diocese in Montana in an effort to ensure more than $70 million in assets are available for those abused by church officials.

The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings entered bankruptcy protection in March as part of settlements involving more than 400 people in sex abuse lawsuits. Church officials said at the time the diocese and its insurers would contribute to a fund to compensate victims and set aside additional money for those who had yet to come forward.

Mediation has not produced a settlement so far.

A committee of unsecured creditors representing eight sex abuse survivors sued the diocese in U.S. Bankruptcy Court this week, aiming to reach a negotiated settlement. California attorney James Stang, who represents the committee, said the complaint was “part of the process,” the Billings Gazette reported.

U.S. Catholic leaders have been grappling with a clergy sexual abuse crisis that exploded in 2002 following reporting by The Boston Globe. Nationwide, the church has paid several billion dollars in settlements since 1950. More than 6,500 clergy members have been accused of abuse and hundreds have been removed from church work.

Former V.I. Bishop Reflects on Boston Church Sex Scandal

St. Thomas Source

December 27, 2017

By Judi Shimel

When a former Catholic archbishop of Boston died Dec. 20 in Italy, the cleric who played a role in his downfall had words of compassion for him.

The paths of former Archbishop Bernard Law, who died last week, and Cardinal Sean O’Malley both include time in the Virgin Islands. O’Malley was bishop of the Catholic Church of St. Thomas from 1984 to 1992. Law, a native of Mexico, graduated from Charlotte Amalie High School.

But when their paths crossed in Boston, the resulting scandal led to Law’s downfall. Law died Dec. 20 at the age of 86. He resigned from the Boston archdiocese in 2002 after O’Malley made public his investigation into child sexual abuse by priests.

Watch: Vrindavan women thrash priest with lathis for molesting girls


December 27, 2017

By Yusuf Begg

Residents of Mathura's Vrindavan take the law in their own hands as they beat up a priest accused of molesting girls.

Priests are supposed to help ordinary people get over their baser instincts. Besides giving religious prescriptions, they are also supposed to make us aware of social evils. Not this baba though.

A video that is going viral in social media that a priest accused of molesting girls is beaten up by locals in Mathura's Vrindavan.

Crookston diocese reinstates priest after no charges filed in abuse inquiry

Pioneer Press

December 26, 2017

CROOKSTON, Minn. — The Catholic Diocese of Crookston has reinstated a priest who was placed on administrative leave as pastor of parishes in Dilworth and Hawley after allegations of abuse surfaced in early 2016.

The Rev. Patrick Sullivan has been reinstated to priestly ministry at St. Elizabeth’s Parish in Dilworth and St. Andrew’s Parish in Hawley, the diocese said in a statement released Tuesday.

The diocese said Sullivan was placed on leave in April 2016 after the diocese was served with a civil complaint through the plaintiff’s attorney, Jeff Anderson. The complaint claimed that in 2008, while serving as pastor at St. Mary’s Mission Church in Red Lake, Minn., Sullivan engaged in unpermitted sexual conduct with the plaintiff when he was 15 years old.

Saying child sexual abuse charge not credible, Crookston Diocese reinstates local priest


December 27, 2017

By Don Haney

CROOKSTON, MINN. (KFGO) - The Crookston Catholic Diocese has reinstated a priest who served parishes in Clay County who was accused of sexual misconduct of a minor. 

Local and federal authorities investigated a claim Father Pat Sullivan engaged in "unpermitted sexual conduct" with a 15-year old boy while serving as a pastor at a church in Red Lake, Minnesota in 2008 but no charges were filed. Sullivan was put on administrative leave from his assignment as pastor of St. Elizabeth and St. Andrews parishes in Dilworth and Hawley when the complaint was made in April of 2016. Sullivan consistantly denied the allegations. 

The decision to reinstate Sullivan was made after the accuser was questioned by attorney's for the diocese and the Crookston Diocese Board of Review for the Protection of Children and Young People then determined the accusation was "not credible." That board is made up of two social workers, a sheriff, a police detective, an attorney, and a diocese priest.

Valderice, processo sui presunti abusi delle suore Legali di vittima chiedono risarcimento milionario

Meridio News

December 23, 2017

By Pamela Giacomarro

[Google Translate: At the end the process on the Casa del Fanciullo San Pio X in Valderice . One million and 300 thousand euros and an immediate provisional amount of 130 thousand euros is the claim for damages in favor of the child who triggered the investigation and the main victim of the alleged violence. Advancing it were the lawyers Antonino Sugamele and Annalisa Pisano. At the bar, on charges of mistreatment, Sr. Yvonne Jacqueline Noah and the three former educators Laura Milana , Carlo Cammarata and Maria Mazzara. Two other people had ended up in the sights of the magistrates, the former director, Sr. Teresa Mandirà, and the cook of the Pina Ruggeri structure, who died soon after the trial began. For the defendants, the public prosecutor Nicola Lamia has requested a sentence of three years imprisonment . For the defenders, on the other hand, there would have been no crimes: the lawyer Marco Siragusa, at the end of his address, requested absolution for Sister Yvonne.]

CRONACA – Alla sbarra ci sono suor Yvonne Jacqueline Noah e gli ex educatori Laura Milana, Carlo Cammarata e Maria Mazzara. Decedute poco dopo la fine delle indagini un'altra suora e la cuoca della struttura. Una decina di piccoli ospiti della Casa del Fanciullo San Pio X ha raccontato le percosse e i maltrattamenti subiti

Alle battute finali il processo sulla Casa del Fanciullo San Pio X di Valderice. Un milione e 300mila euro e una provvisionale immediata di 130mila euro è la richiesta di risarcimento danni in favore del bimbo che fece scattare le indagini nonché vittima principale delle presunte violenze. Ad avanzarla sono stati gli avvocati Antonino Sugamele e Annalisa Pisano. Alla sbarra, con l’accusa di maltrattamenti, suor Yvonne Jacqueline Noah e i tre ex educatori Laura Milana, Carlo Cammarata e Maria Mazzara. Nel mirino dei magistrati erano finite altre due persone, l’ex direttrice, suor Teresa Mandirà, e la cuoca della struttura Pina Ruggeri, decedute subito dopo l’avvio del processo. Per gli imputati, il pubblico ministero Nicola Lamia ha chiesto la condanna a tre anni di reclusione. Per i difensori invece non ci sarebbero stati reati: l’avvocato Marco Siragusa, al termine della sua arringa, ha chiesto l’assoluzione per suor Yvonne.

L’indagine è stata avviata nel 2013 grazie alle denuncia di uno dei piccoli ospiti. «Fammi scappare dal centro, voglio tornare a casa». Poche parole impresse su un foglio di carta consegnato a un’assistente sociale, utili però agli investigatori per avviare le indagini e scoprire quanto accadeva da tempo all'interno della struttura di accoglienza. Maltrattamenti a cui sarebbero stati esposti i piccoli ospiti, una decina tra gli 8 e i 14 anni. A sostegno della tesi del bimbo, la testimonianza dei genitori. La coppia riferì agli agenti della Squadra mobile di avere appreso dal figlio che lo stesso era stato oggetto di ripetute percosse. Anche altri bambini, sentiti successivamente, riferirono d’essere stati spesso costretti a usare l'acqua gelida e a cibarsi di alimenti mal conservati. Le loro storie, tutte uguali: «Suor Yvonne mi dava botte con il filo della corrente», «suor Teresa e Pina mi picchiavano con la paletta».

Pedofilia, l’arcivescovo di Milano coinvolto nello scandalo Don Galli: “Sapeva degli abusi”


December 23, 2017

By Sacha Biazzo and Simone Giancristofaro

[Google Translate: The highest offices of the Church in Lombardy knew of the alleged sexual abuse of a priest of Rozzano against a minor three years before the investigation of the judiciary, but they never reported the incident.]

Le più alte cariche della Chiesa in Lombardia sapevano del presunto abuso sessuale di un prete di Rozzano ai danni di un minore tre anni prima delle indagini della magistratura, ma non hanno mai denunciato l’accaduto.

“Che cosa aspettiamo che ci mettano tutti in galera per pedofilia? Aspettiamo che ci mettano tutti in galera per pedofilia e poi cominciamo seriamente a guardare le cose, va bene, cioè, basta saperlo e ci adeguiamo, però già che possiamo farlo prima, facciamolo prima”

A parlare sono due preti di Rozzano intercettati dai carabinieri. Un prete della loro parrocchia, don Mauro Galli, è accusato di abusi sessuali su un minore e la magistratura ha messo sotto controllo i loro telefoni. Il caso non è ancora di dominio pubblico, ma nell’ambiente ecclesiastico ha suscitato un polverone, tanto da dover richiedere l’intervento delle più alte cariche della Chiesa.

RIETS Addresses Sexual Abuse in Orthodox Community

The YU Commentator: The Independent Student Newspaper of Yeshiva University

December 26, 2017

By Shoshy Ciment, Lilly Gelman, and David Rubinstein

On December 25, the Rabbi Isaac Elchanan Theological Seminary hosted a talk for rabbinical students on sexual abuse in the Orthodox community. The event, which was attended by over 50 students, rabbis, community members, and administrators, featured remarks from Dr. Norman Blumenthal and Rabbi Yosef Blau. Pizza was served and copies of the most recent issue of Tradition—the foremost Modern Orthodox journal of Jewish thought and law—which focused on sexual abuse, were distributed free of charge, courtesy of its publisher, the Rabbinical Council of America.

This event occurred amidst a tide of high profile cases centering around sexual abuse in the United States. In light of this, it was announced a few weeks ago that employees of Yeshiva University were required to complete an online course about sexual harassment and discrimination in the workplace. A few days later, a mashgiach (kosher supervisor) at Stern College was fired after an investigation into allegations of his inappropriate conduct.

Rabbi Larry Rothwachs, RIETS Director of Professional Rabbinics, introduced the speakers. He said that when the allegations of sexual abuse in the Jewish community first emerged, people were silent. Over the last two decades, however, “a lot has changed,” and the voice of “victims past, present, and future...exists now, and is protected now, and is given a safe space within our segment of the community.” Rabbi Rothwachs said that “we have every obligation as Torah Jews to go ahead and promote the interest of those who would otherwise not be able to protect and defend themselves,” referring to victims of sexual abuse.

Dr. Blumenthal, a senior psychologist at OHEL, a major Jewish social services organization, spoke about preventing sexual abuse. He emphasized the need for a Torah curriculum on sexuality. “The time has come for us to have a curriculum for the Torah approach to sexuality to make it such that it if a 16-year old waiter at camp propositions a 12-year old camper, it is unthinkable.”

“A schmues in high school is not enough. We need a curriculum, and we need to teach from kindergarten through high school. If we can use those opportunities to train our children ...there will be a healthier attitude,” said Dr. Blumenthal, who is also the Educational Director of the counseling training program for prospective clergy at Yeshiva University. “You can’t eliminate [sexual abuse completely], but we can make a significant difference in terms of children understanding that this is wrong. If we can inculcate an attitude of reverence and respect and the proper attitude within our community, when that 16-year old propositions that 12-year old it will be totally unthinkable.”

December 26, 2017

Ending the Silence on Abuse

Bergen County (NJ)
The Jewish Link of New Jersey

Originally Published on December 21, 2017

By Jonathan S. Tobin

In the past two months, the avalanche of stories about sexual abuse and harassment has touched virtually every sector of American society. The revelations about deeply troubling behavior on the part of politicians, journalists and figures in the entertainment world have transfixed the country. As more victims come forward to tell their stories, the consequences have gone beyond the disgrace of some prominent individuals, the end of careers and, in Alabama, a surprising election result. What began with a shocking story about movie mogul Harvey Weinstein has led to what may well be a crucial turning point in the way sexual misconduct is viewed.

We are no longer in an era in which all forms of abuse—be it violent crime, abuse of minors as well as unwanted physical touching, abusive verbal comments and forms of pressure—that might have once been viewed as permissible if unpleasant behavior can be ignored or dismissed.

Under these circumstances, it is only to be expected that some of these stories would involve the Jewish community. This week’s JNS feature by Elizabeth Kratz concerning alleged abuse carried out by a since-retired United Synagogue Youth (USY) director follows the same pattern of the rest of the #metoo scandals. A powerful person used his position to carry out sexual abuse, in this case, against minors. The victims felt unable to step forward at the time, both because of the shame they were made to feel by the predator and also because they felt nobody in a position to do something about it would listen. Organizations that should have been on guard against abuse were, like the rest of society, not listening or indifferent about what was going on under their noses.

The Conservative movement responsible for the USY program in question was not alone in this respect, as such scandals have, in one form or another, touched other Jewish denominations. To its credit, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism appears now to have taken appropriate action, not only to sever any ties with alleged abusers, but also to ensure, as much as it is possible, that similar misconduct doesn’t recur.

This story is so similar to numerous other sex scandals that many readers who have become so accustomed to such discussions may have lost their ability to be shocked by the topic. But it is also true that there will be some in the Jewish world who, while eagerly consuming accounts of the various stories about celebrities who have been exposed as abusers, don’t want accounts of misconduct within their own community to be published.

The impulse to regard journalism about bad behavior by Jews—especially those connected to vital Jewish organizations—that are published in the Jewish press as an unnecessary airing of dirty laundry is, in one sense, understandable. Such stories are seen as something that ought to be kept in the family and away from the view of outsiders who might use them to denigrate Jews or harm Jewish institutions. There will always be a tendency to regard any accounts that portray Jewish life in an unflattering context as betrayals of tribal loyalty if they come from Jewish sources.

But as it should have already become clear as society comes to grip with the pervasive nature of sexual harassment, keeping quiet does nobody any good. The mindset that regarded the reporting of such crimes and misbehavior as bad form or disreputable scandal mongering, or what Jewish tradition regards as “lashon hara,” is a big part of the problem that enabled the abusers to get away with their crimes for so long. When The New York Jewish Week reported on the abuse going on at the Orthodox movement’s NCSY in 2000 it was subjected to a storm of criticism from those who thought this wasn’t the sort of thing Jewish publications should publish. But it is exactly that kind of reporting that is a necessary precondition for action that will prevent future crimes of this nature.

'The Hurt Is Still There': Clergy Abuse Survivors, Others React To Cardinal Law's Death [with audio]

WBUR 90.9

Originally published on December 20, 2017

By Deborah Becker

Reaction to the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the man who came to be the face of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church, has been emotional, particularly for survivors of clergy abuse.

Law, who led the Boston archdiocese for 19 years before he stepped down in disgrace over the scandal in 2002, died in Rome early Wednesday. He was 86.

Cardinal Seán O'Malley, the current leader of Boston's archdioceses, said his predecessor was more than the mistakes he made when he failed to properly address clergy sex abuse. O'Malley said he understands how the death of Law has re-opened old wounds for abuse survivors.

"The hurt is still there," he said, speaking to reporters Wednesday. "Healing is still necessary, and we all must be vigilant, especially for prevention of child abuse and to create safe environments."

The 'Fatal Flaws' Of Cardinal Law

Many clergy abuse survivors said they were flooded with emotions upon learning of Law's death.

Speaking to reporters, some survivors gathered to reflect on Law's death and the abuse they suffered by the priests he oversaw in Boston.

One of the survivors, Bob Costello, said those memories still haunt him — even decades later. He told reporters he remembers meeting with Cardinal Law.

"During the meeting I discussed why he hadn't done anything, and he really couldn't give me an answer," Costello said. "He just couldn't come to terms with saying that he lied and that he cheated, and that he allowed children to be raped."

Costello and another survivor who spoke to reporters, Alexa MacPherson, said they are both still angry that after Law stepped down he was appointed to an influential post at the Vatican. Law worked there until he retired six years ago.

"He was never held accountable," MacPherson said. "He was rewarded with a prestigious position in the Vatican, and he moved on with his life, and he forgot about us over here."

Anglican Dean of Perth Very Rev. Richard Pengelley apologises for Church hurt

The West Australian

December 26, 2017

By Liam Croy and Claire Tyrrell

The Anglican Dean of Perth apologised for the hurt the Church has caused in a moving Christmas Day sermon.

Speaking after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, the Very Rev. Richard Pengelley said the Church deserved much of the bad press it had endured.

“I am deeply sorry for the ways in which we have hurt people,” he said.

Mr Pengelley told worshippers at St George’s Cathedral the Church was inclusive of all cultures, sexualities and walks of life.

He pointed to the good work it did in the community, from helping with food relief to providing music and arts programs.

“We support charities ... we are home to memorials and burials,” he said. “We support refugees, lobby for justice and we lobby to be inclusive.”

House of Prayer residents say torture, abuse was common

The Gainesville Sun

December 25, 2017

By Cindy Swirko

‘This didn’t have to go on. It could have been stopped much earlier.’

John Neal was about 6 when he and his little sister, Katonya, went to live with Anna Young at the House of Prayer, and he was 12 when he was spirited away.

During those years, Neal saw Katonya tortured until she eventually died. He was beaten and saw others beaten. He said Young forced a mother to take her son to Puerto Rico and abandon him at a church, or else the boy might have died from abuse.

Neal, now 40, saw a lot more and kept quiet, until recently. Now, thanks to him and others who went to law enforcement, Young is a 76-year-old in the Alachua County jail facing murder charges in connection with the death of a toddler about 30 years ago.

“People were brainwashed. Like the Jim Jones thing — if Anna had said ‘Drink the Kool-Aid,’ we would have drunk the Kool-Aid,” Neal said. “She used fear and she used God. Number one, she used God. Everybody was going to burn in hell. The kids had demons in them — that’s why they got treated so bad.”

Young’s arrest and the details now emerging about the House of Prayer raise questions about missed opportunities to end the abuse earlier.

The indictment is for the death of Emon Harper sometime between 1988 and 1989. Also called Moses, he was 2 or 3 years old at the time and was allegedly killed by Young through starvation and torture.

The boy’s remains have not been found. Multiple people who lived at the church compound said his body was burned in a pit. They said he was from Chicago and that his parents did not live at the compound.

Neal lived at the House of Prayer property, first in Waldo and later on Southeast 138th Avenue off Wacahoota Road, while Emon was there. Neal said he cannot talk about Emon because of the legal case against Young.

But Neal talked about how he ended up at House of Prayer, his life there and his recovery.

And he talked about his little sister.

Ex-priest fell from grace after archbishop resigned

Albuquerque Journal

December 26, 2017

By Olivier Uyttebrouck

Former priest Sabine Griego’s relationship with the Archdiocese of Santa Fe took an abrupt turn for the worse after the late Archbishop Robert Sanchez stepped down in March 1993.

Just three days after Sanchez resigned, an archdiocese official sent Griego a letter telling him to “not exercise your ministry in parishes or in any other ministerial situations.”

The archdiocese’s concerns about Griego were well-founded, according to court records released recently by a judge’s order. In 2004, former Archbishop Michael Sheehan, who succeeded Sanchez in 1993, sent a letter to Vatican officials urging them to remove Griego from the priesthood. The Vatican did so in 2005.

“First, there is the sheer volume and heinous nature of the accusations,” Sheehan wrote.

He included a list of 16 men and a woman who alleged that the La Madera native ordained in 1964 had sexually abused them as children, from 1965 to 1990. The archdiocese had paid nearly $3 million to victims, Sheehan wrote.

Victims “will have to live with the trauma of their experiences for a lifetime, let alone the suffering incurred by their families and loved ones,” he wrote.

Griego did not respond to voice messages left at his home in the Las Vegas, N.M., area.

Copyright © 2017 Albuquerque Journal

Ohio Priest Jumps From Skyscraper After He's Accused of Having Relationship With Minor

Christian Post

December 22, 2017

By Leonardo Blair

James Csaszar, a suspended Ohio priest who was under investigation for engaging in an inappropriate relationship with an underage boy, jumped from an 82-story hotel in Chicago Wednesday, leaving his colleagues in shock.

The 44-year-old priest who was reportedly well-liked led the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, Ohio. Officials say he was under investigation for leading a double life prior to his death at the sleek Radisson Blu Aqua Hotel.

"It is with deep shock and sadness that we have learned of the death of Father James Csaszar, pastor of the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany, who took his own life yesterday in Chicago," Bishop of Columbus, the Most Rev. Frederick F. Campbell, confirmed in a statement Wednesday.

"On Nov. 7, Father Csaszar was placed on an administrative leave by the Diocese of Columbus after diocesan officials were made aware of excessive and questionable text and telephone communications with a minor and potential misuse of church funds while serving as pastor of St. Rose Parish, New Lexington," he explained.

"Following a diocesan review of the matter, the New Lexington Police were contacted and all information was turned over to them and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for their review; an investigation was being conducted at the time of Father Csaszar's death," he added.

Miranda: Catholic Church tied to a past that can’t be undone

The Weekly Times

December 26, 2017

By Genevieve Barlow

THE act by parishioners of removing ribbons placed by survivors and their supporters to mark the institutionalised sexual and other abuse at churches, orphanages, schools and
elsewhere was misguided and insensitive.

Ribbons had been tied to church gates, fences and signs from Ballarat to Shepparton, Sale, Mortlake, Ararat, Sunbury, Bendigo, Castlemaine and Lancefield in a movement called the Loud Fence campaign, which began in 2015.

Then, at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Ballarat, the week before Christmas and just days after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuses handed down its report, parishioners took the ribbons down from the cathedral fence.

“It signalled what the Catholic Church has done historically. They just want us to go away. All they wanted was to get them down before Christmas,” said Phil Nagle, who was abused as a boy at St Alipius Primary School in Ballarat.

He reckoned the Ballarat Catholic Diocese should be concentrating on the catastrophic failure of leadership and the Royal Commission’s recommendations instead of removing the ribbons.

Abuse survivors and their supporters reacted predictably and put more ribbons up.

These were taken down. More were put up.

OPINION: Please, parliament: protect kids from pedophile priests

The Australian

December 26, 2017

By Chrissie Foster

A total of 37 per cent of the 15,000 survivors who came forward to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse were sexually assaulted within the Catholic Church. These atrocious crimes against children were not committed by suburban delinquents or bikie gangs — but by your local clergy.

Back in March 1996 when my husband, Anthony Foster, and I began our battle against the Catholic Church hierarchy over the sexual assaults of our own child by a priest, it was at a time when a rumour flourished — that supposed victims were liars after money. This lie was taken as the biblical truth by the faithful.

That, together with a priest’s status — claiming they became another Christ when ordained — meant we were easily dismissed by priest and parishioner alike. But there was no hint of the black-hearted Father Kevin O’Donnell being another Christ with his child rapist career, which spanned 50 years as a priest.

A secret report dated August 2, 1995, by Melbourne Response’s Carelink head Richard Ball on O’Donnell stated “he had some early involvement with young folks but nothing much until shortly after ordination (1942), and from then on until three or four years ago (1991/92)”.

Complaints were acted on by the hierarchy — various archbishops took actions to protect O’Donnell. He was left in place or moved to a new parish to continue sexually assaulting children which he did at every primary school he oversaw.

This criminality is what we were fighting, and the arrogance and heartlessness of these ontologically changed holy men — I could neither believe in them nor stomach them. Who could once the truth was known? Who could support such men who sexually assaulted little children, or those who protected the criminal, even abetting further sexual assaults?

Almost 22 years later we have our royal commission findings and recommendations, which are damning of the Catholic hierarchy and its failure to protect children from rapist priests and brothers.

This month saw victims’ accounts validated by a royal commission that forensically exam­ined witnesses and more than 1.2 million documents. It was a great moment; it was a relief and a stamp of truth on what victims had been saying for decades.

The royal commissioners, because of their five years of listening, researching and analysing, are experts on the issue of child sexual assault. There is no higher authority than them on this crime anywhere in the world.

They know what will make Australian children safe, they know what civil laws need to be enacted to counter this insidious felony against our youngest, most vulnerable, powerless citizens. The commission’s recommendations must be implement­ed by the governments of this country.

Australian taxpayers have stumped up $450 million for these recommendations, which were handed to the Governor-General on December 15 and must not go to waste by sitting on a shelf collecting dust in Parliament House.

Reacting to some of the commission’s recommendations for child protection, members of the church hierarchy promise they will go to the Vatican bleating because their power and authority have been challenged.

There was no going to the Vatican on behalf of the thousands of children raped by their colleagues; only legal arguments, petty church-restricted payouts and the silencing of children.

Now church leaders go to a Vatican knowing that the men there never lifted a finger to help or protect children, or spoke words to eradicate the child rapists among them; a Vatican that, when asked, refused to hand over church files on Australian pedophile clergy to the royal commission. All roads lead to Rome, including the pedophile road.

But in 2013 a high-ranking Catholic clergyman stated under oath to the Victorian Parliamentary Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Non-Government Organisations: “Well, we are good citizens, so if the government sets regulations for the whole of society, we certainly follow them.”

So politicians should feel free to implement the royal commission’s recommendations and enact civil laws that will ensure child safety.

By comparison, the Vatican’s canon law is nothing more than the rules of the local footy club and, as such, must be ignored by civil law. If the hierarchy wishes to reject civil law and obey canon law then we will watch them go to prison.

The damage done by the Catholic hierarchy for decades by not removing pedophile priests from contact with children, and therefore creating more victims — as confirmed by the royal commission’s findings — is a wilful, criminal abuse of power.

Apart from irreparable damage, misery and death to children and adults, the church is responsible for the enormous repair bill from attempts to restore victims’ lives. It is a huge bill that the Australian taxpayer has had to pay. Perhaps governments should look to retrieve costs by placing a levy on the Catholics and others in line with their percentage of wilful and neglectful prolonging of child sexual assault.

All that said, my family has had its first Christmas without Anthony. He passed away suddenly in May. He did not live to see the end of the royal commission during which he attended so many sessions and round tables. It is a tragedy that he did not see the victory that awaited all victims and survivors and their families.

Anthony fought a long, hard battle. His insightful analysis and gentle voice on this issue will be forever missed. He tried so hard to make the future safer for children so that what happened to our two daughters at the hands of a trusted priest, in a system of education and at the mercy of a hierarchy that has been shown not to care on any level about any child, would not happen to others.

Anthony was a great counter to the men who claimed to be holy. They had no moral compass — they are hollow men with hollow words. When they die and go to their God they may then realise they got it all wrong in protecting their body of assets and power instead of protecting the bodies of children.

Chrissie Foster, with Paul Kennedy, is author of Hell on the Way to Heaven.

VOX POPULI: 'MeToo' shaping up as force to be reckoned with in sexual abuse

The Asahi Shimbun

December 26, 2017

Every year-end, TIME magazine selects an influential individual as Person of the Year.

In 2015, it was German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her commitment to accepting refugees. Last year, the magazine picked U.S. President-elect Donald Trump for his "accomplishment" of dividing the nation by winning the presidential election.

But this year, five women made the TIME cover by edging out North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other candidates.

Dubbed "The Silence Breakers," the group includes an actress who testified against an influential film executive over allegations of sexual misconduct.

But these are not the only people who started going public as victims of sexual abuse. The hashtag "MeToo" went viral on social media, empowering countless other individuals to come forward and start a movement.

I imagine that the originator of this hashtag must have hoped that if every victim declared themselves as one of countless victims, the gravity of the problem would not be lost on the public at large.

The movement has indeed gone global, exposing powerful men--including high-profile politicians and world-class orchestra conductors. And women in Japan, too, have begun to speak out (http://www.asahi.com/ajw/articles/AJ201712220046.html).

One individual takes the first courageous step, inspiring another to follow suit. This is the chain reaction that has been triggered around the world. It reminds me of a baton relay race, or a road being laid with one paving stone after another.

One by-product of this is the "ChurchToo" hashtag. Many cases of clergy sexual abuse of children have been exposed in Europe and the United States.

Not the time: Bishop won’t comment on Royal Commission into abuse

Central Western Daily

December 26, 2017

By Rachel Chamberlain

BISHOP of Bathurst Michael McKenna plans to study the recommendations put forward from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse before having his say on them.

The 409 recommendations, aimed at keeping children safe, were handed down in a 17-volume final report on December 15.

Bishop McKenna, whose diocese includes Catholic parishes in Orange, Dubbo, Mudgee and Cowra, said it was not the right time to respond to the report’s recommendations.

“The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has now concluded its work and delivered its report to the Australian Government,” he said.

“Very soon, we must begin to study the multi-volume report and consider the recommendations that the commissioners have made. Then will be the time for a full response.

“For now, we should acknowledge gratefully the work of everyone who has participated in the Royal Commission, especially those who have told their stories and those who have listened to them.”

COMMENTARY: Cardinal Law at the gates

The Toledo Blade

December 26, 2017

By Keith C. Burris

Bernard Law, who came to symbolize the inability of the Catholic church to deal honestly with sexual abuse of children by Catholic priests, died last week at 86.

No human being should be only a symbol in the eyes of fellow human beings. But there is a reason Cardinal Law became a symbol. He, as the archbishop of Boston, enabled the abusers — serially transferring them instead of urging them into treatment and defrocking them. He also directed a systematic stonewalling by the archdiocese when the Boston Globe began to uncover the extent of clergy abuse in Massachusetts. And though he “apologized,” in a very broad and general way, several times, he never set out to make it right.

By that I mean two things: The cardinal never took personal responsibility. And he never ministered to the victims of abuse.

The cardinal eventually recognized the gravity of the scandal — he resigned, after all. But he did not seem to recognize, or accept, the gravity of the sin. He did not see the size, or the blackness, of the stain upon the church. He did not really comprehend the pain the abuses caused — the wrecked lives. Lives forever marred by guilt, pain, addiction, and in many cases suicide. Souls that never healed.

He never saw the human carnage. Never wanted to. And thus, he never did penance.

I watched a video, thanks to the miracle of YouTube, of Cardinal Law speaking publicly for the first time about the abuse, in 2002, under intense pressure from the Globe’s stories. Was he pained by the abuse? Yes. Was he equally irritated at having to meet the press? Definitely.

When the Globe’s Walter Robinson asked the cardinal if he would now see to it that all documents on known priest-pedophiles be made public, the cardinal dodged but essentially declined. He said he didn’t really understand the problem in 1986 and now he understood it better. Poor policy decisions had been made. He felt no great guilt. He gave the impression of a sovereign who wanted his cold porridge to be taken away.

December 25, 2017

Andrew Soper, former abbot of Ealing Abbey, guilty of raping boys

The Times

[Note: This important article was not blogged in Tracker when it appeared earlier this month. See also Report by Lord Carlile of Berriew Q.C. into Matters Relating to Ealing Abbey and St Benedict’s School, Ealing, released on November 9, 2011.]

December 7, 2017

By Fiona Hamilton

A “sadistic” monk who was head of a top Catholic school was convicted yesterday of molesting ten pupils in a campaign of abuse during the 1970s and 1980s that was exposed by The Times.

Andrew Soper, known as Father Laurence, is thought to be the most senior Catholic priest to be convicted of sex crimes in the UK. He withdrew £182,000 from his Vatican bank account and fled to Kosovo to avoid prosecution for attacking boys at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London.

Soper, the former abbot of Ealing Abbey, which adjoins the school, spent five years abroad before he was extradited. A jury at the Old Bailey deliberated for 14 hours before finding him guilty of 19 charges of indecent assault and buggery between 1975 and 1982.

Soper, 74, who is likely to die in jail, is the fourth staff member of St Benedict’s to be convicted of indecent assault and the school apologised unreservedly last night for the “serious wrongs of the past”.

The 60-year history of abuse at the school was exposed by The Times and a report by an independent barrister concluded in 2011 that there had been a “lengthy and cumulative failure” by monks to protect children in their care.

Priest who sexually abused boys at London school jailed for 18 years

The Guardian

December 21, 2017

By Harriet Sherwood

Andrew Soper had been convicted of 19 charges of rape and other sexual offences against 10 boys at St Benedict’s school

A Roman Catholic priest who sexually abused boys at an abbey school in the 1970s and 80s has been sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Andrew Soper, 74, formerly known as Father Laurence Soper, was a fugitive for five years after jumping bail. An international warrant was issued for his arrest.

He was convicted earlier this month of 19 charges of rape and other sexual offences against 10 boys at St Benedict’s school in Ealing, west London. He is the fourth man at the school to have been convicted of abuse.

Following the guilty verdicts, the school apologised unreservedly for the “serious wrongs of the past”.

Sentencing Soper at the Old Bailey on Thursday, Judge Anthony Bate said: “You are an intelligent man with gifts of scholarship and erudition. However, as you acknowledged during cross examination, showing a degree of insight, that is not how you will be remembered.

“Your good qualities are utterly overshadowed by the proven catalogue of vile abuse for which you are now at last held to account. Your disgrace is complete.”

Soper’s disappearance to Kosovo had been “meticulously planned”, the judge said, adding: “You intended to live out your days there in obscurity.”

Man jailed for non-recent abuse

Metropolitan Police

December 21, 2017

A Roman Catholic priest has been jailed for 18 years after he was found guilty of 19 counts of non-recent abuse against boys at a school in Ealing.

Andrew Soper, known as Father Laurence, 74 (17.09.43) of no fixed abode, was sentenced on Thursday, 21 December, after a ten-week-long trial at the Old Bailey.

He was also handed down a Sexual Harm Prevention Order with no time limit.

Soper was found guilty on Wednesday, 6 December of 19 counts of indecent assault against ten boys who attended St Benedict's Middle School in Ealing between 1975 and 1982.

In his summing up, the judge told Soper "Your disgrace is complete."

The court heard Soper was a former abbot at Ealing Abbey and a headmaster of the middle school between 1972 and 1991. He taught boys aged between 11 and 14 and, as headmaster, he was in charge of discipline.

The first allegation was made in 2004 by a former pupil who said he was sexually assaulted by Soper in his office whilst he was being punished.

Sexual predator abused children — and treated priests who did the same

KHNL / KGMB / Hawaii News Now

December 20, 2017

By Lynn Kawano

[See also the recent KHNL-KGMB series Hidden Betrayal:

• Part I: Kamehameha Schools sex abuse victims: 'Monster' stole our childhoods (11/27/17)

• Part II: 'Cover-up' added to pain, Kamehameha School sex abuse victims say (11/28/17)

• Part III: Victims: Kamehameha Schools sex abuse suit is about accountability (11/29/17)

Former trustees: 'Wall of secrecy' at Kamehameha Schools helped sex abuse stay hidden (11/28/17]

Long-hidden documents show how the same man, prominent Honolulu psychiatrist Dr. Robert Browne, played a central role in two of Hawaii's biggest sex abuse scandals.

Browne is accused of sexually assaulting more than 30 former students at Kamehameha Schools over nearly three decades, from 1958 to 1985.

And, the documents show, he was also treating Catholic priests in Hawaii who had been caught abusing children.

Those priests weren't turned into the police, but were often instead sent for psychiatric treatment — to be "cured" of their pedophilia problem. Not surprisingly, one priest in particular who was getting therapy from Browne went on to molest kids for decades.

'I could not believe God allowed this to happen'

For the dozens of Hawaii children who were sexually assaulted by men of the cloth, houses of worship became places of hell.

Chesjoy "Anthony" Long knows that only too well.

He was abused by Father George DeCosta, a priest from a church in Keaukaha. It was 1970 and Long was 14 years old.

Former bishop of Charlotte’s Catholic diocese dies at 90

Charlotte Observer

December 24, 2017

By Tim Funk

Bishop William Curlin, who presided over the rapidly growing Catholic Diocese of Charlotte from 1994 to 2002, died Saturday at Carolinas Medical Center. He was 90.

The cause of death was cancer, which he had battled for years.

Curlin was known as a pastoral bishop and as a longtime friend and spiritual adviser to Mother Teresa. In 1995, he brought the diminutive nun with a towering reputation to Charlotte for an ecumenical service that drew 19,000 people to the old Charlotte Coliseum. She also installed in Charlotte some of her sisters from the Missionaries of Charity, the religious order she founded in India to serve the poorest of the poor.

* * *

Curlin’s tenure was not without controversy. He was bishop at a time when the Catholic Church in the United States and around the world was rocked by scandal at widespread reports of priests sexually abusing children. The Charlotte diocese never approached the volume of cases of sexual misconduct uncovered in Boston and many other dioceses. But N.C. members of SNAP – Surviviors’ Network of those Abused by Priests – and others criticized Curlin for not being transparent about priests and other men accused of sexual misconduct who were allowed to work in the diocese without the public knowing about their past.

In one of the most publicized cases, Mark Doherty was hired to teach at Charlotte Catholic High School despite a warning to Curlin from the Boston archdiocese about allegations against him. Doherty lost his job after the case came to light.

Abusive Priest Escapes Justice by Killing Himself Amid Police Investigation


December 24, 2017

By David McAfee

A Catholic priest who was being investigated for “questionable texts” and phone calls with a 16-year-old boy killed himself by jumping from a building on Wednesday, signaling there may be much more to this case.

Rev. James Csaszar, who was also being investigated for misusing money from the Church of the Resurrection in the Columbus (Ohio) suburb of New Albany, jumped to his death from a room at the Aqua Hotel in Chicago. Previously, the Diocese had suspended him for “excessive and questionable” texts and phone calls with the young boy. Church officials also contacted the local police.

Sex abuse lawsuit seeks $70 million in assets from Montana diocese

Christian Times

December 25, 2017

By Jardine Malado

Attorneys for victims of sex abuse have filed a lawsuit against a bankrupt Catholic diocese in Montana last week to ensure that more than $70 million in assets will be available to their clients.

A committee representing eight sex abuse victims filed a complaint against the diocese of Great Falls-Billings in the U.S. Bankruptcy Court on Dec. 18 in an attempt to reach a negotiated settlement in the dispute over the matter of $70 million worth of diocesan assets.

According to Fox News, the diocese filed for bankruptcy protection in March as part of sex abuse settlements in a lawsuit involving over 400 victims.

The officials said at the time that the diocese and its insurers would set up a fund for the victims and additional money will be provided for those who have yet to come forward.

Church officials have contended that the disputed assets should not be made available because they are held in trust for diocese's parishes and thus not part of the bankruptcy estate.

Attorneys for the victims argued that the parishes are not separate legal entities from the diocese and therefore have no exclusive claims to the trust.

All we want for Christmas is solidarity forever

The Guardian

December 24, 2017

By Brad Chilcott

For both people of faith and no faith the Christmas story is an opportunity to reflect: Will we keep power and privilege to ourselves or offer the gift of solidarity?

The newborn lying in a feeding trough and soon to be threatened with death by an occupying power, commemorated in sanitised nativity scenes in shopping malls and front yard light displays is the child born in Palestine for whom fear of violence is the daily norm.

He is the Rohingya Muslim watching his village burn.

The child of Mary is the survivor exposing their abuse before a royal commission.

The son of God is the woman unable to escape domestic violence, the bullied transgender student contemplating suicide and the Aboriginal child in a spit hood.

Urbi et Orbi Christmas Message and Blessing of Pope Francis

Vatican News

December 25, 2017

By Pope Francis

[See also Pope Francis' Christmas Eve homily.]

On Christmas Day Pope Francis prays for world peace and gives his "Urbi et Orbi" blessing
Pope Francis has appealed for peace and for a world in which children across the globe may be able to hope for a future of justice, security and joy.

The Pope's words came on Christmas Day as he addressed the city and the world during his traditional "Urbi et Orbi" message from the Central Loggia of St. Peter's Basilica.

Please find below the full text of the Pope's message:

Dear Brothers and Sisters, Happy Christmas!

In Bethlehem, Jesus was born of the Virgin Mary. He was born, not by the will of man, but by the gift of the love of God our Father, who “so loved the world that he gave his only-begotten Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (Jn 3:16).

This event is renewed today in the Church, a pilgrim in time. For the faith of the Christian people relives in the Christmas liturgy the mystery of the God who comes, who assumes our mortal human flesh, and who becomes lowly and poor in order to save us. And this moves us deeply, for great is the tenderness of our Father.

* * *

Today, as the winds of war are blowing in our world and an outdated model of development continues to produce human, societal and environmental decline, Christmas invites us to focus on the sign of the Child and to recognize him in the faces of little children, especially those for whom, like Jesus, “there is no place in the inn” (Lk 2:7).

We see Jesus in the children of the Middle East who continue to suffer because of growing tensions between Israelis and Palestinians. On this festive day, let us ask the Lord for peace for Jerusalem and for all the Holy Land. Let us pray that the will to resume dialogue may prevail between the parties and that a negotiated solution can finally be reached, one that would allow the peaceful coexistence of two States within mutually agreed and internationally recognized borders. May the Lord also sustain the efforts of all those in the international community inspired by good will to help that afflicted land to find, despite grave obstacles the harmony, justice and security that it has long awaited.

We see Jesus in the faces of Syrian children still marked by the war that, in these years, has caused such bloodshed in that country. May beloved Syria at last recover respect for the dignity of every person through a shared commitment to rebuild the fabric of society, without regard for ethnic and religious membership. We see Jesus in the children of Iraq, wounded and torn by the conflicts that country has experienced in the last fifteen years, and in the children of Yemen, where there is an ongoing conflict that has been largely forgotten, with serious humanitarian implications for its people, who suffer from hunger and the spread of diseases.

We see Jesus in the children of Africa, especially those who are suffering in South Sudan, Somalia, Burundi, Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic and Nigeria.

December 24, 2017

35 thousand euros a month for the Cardinal: the new scandal that shakes the Vatican


December 21, 2017

By Emiliano Fittipaldi

Francesco's friend and adviser, Oscar Maradiaga, preached pauperism but received half a million a year from a University of Honduras. Bergoglio also wanted an investigation on millionaire investments and on the inappropriate behavior of Bishop Pineda, a loyalist of the cardinal

When he finished reading the inquiry drafted by the apostolic envoy he himself had sent to Honduras last May, Pope Francis’ hands went up to his skullcap. He had just found out that his friend and main councilor — powerful cardinal Oscar Maradiaga, a staunch supporter of a poor and pauperist Church and coordinator of the Council of Cardinals after he appointed him in 2013 — had received over the years from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa around 41,600 US dollars a month, with an additional 64,200 dollars bonus in December. Bergoglio had yet to learn that several witnesses, both ecclesiastical and secular, were accusing Maradiaga of investments in some companies in London topping a 1,2 million dollars that later vanished into thin air, or that the Court of Auditors of the small Central American nation was investigating a flow of large sums of money from the Honduran government to the Foundation for Education and Social Communication and to the Suyapa Foundation, both foundations of the local Church and therefore depending on Maradiaga himself.

"The Pope is sad and saddened, but also very determined at discovering the truth," people of his entourage at Santa Marta, his residency, explain. He wants to know every item of the investigation Argentine bishop Jorge Pedro Casaretto conducted in Honduras, on top, of course, of the final destination of the jaw-dropping sums of money obtained by the cardinal. Just in one year, 2015, as shown in an internal university report L’Espresso obtained, the cardinal received almost 600,000 dollars, a sum that according to some sources he collected for a decade in his capacity as "Grand Chancellor" of the university. However, some other rather unpleasant items account for the rest of the sums he received according to Bishop Casaretto’s report. The pope’s trustworthy person put down on paper the serious accusations many witnesses brought forward (the audits totaled around fifty witnesses and included administrative staff of the diocese and of the university, priests, seminarians and the cardinal's driver and secretary) also against the Auxiliary Bishop of Tegucigalpa, Juan José Pineda, among the most loyal in Maradiaga’s inner circle and de facto his deputy in Central America.

After studying the dossier he received directly six months ago, Pope Francis assigned to himself all final decisions to be made.

Pope Francis’ top ‘reform’ cardinal accused of massive financial scandal


December 22, 2017

By Matthew Cullinan Hoffman

The cardinal who has led Pope Francis’ efforts to “reform” the Church is now accused of having received over 40,000 USD monthly for years from a Catholic university under his control, and of funneling millions of dollars to foreign corporations that have mysteriously lost part of the deposits.

The allegations appeared in a report that was delivered to Pope Francis in May of this year which was revealed Thursday by the Italian newspaper L’Espresso.

Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, the archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, has wielded immense influence under Francis’ papacy because the pope chose him to lead the “C9” Council of Cardinal Advisers charged with reforming the Roman Curia. He was one of the key members of the liberal faction at the Synod on the Family that has resulted in a crisis over the Church’s teaching on marriage.

According to L’Espresso, Maradiaga received, over the space of years, personal payments averaging $41,600 per month from the Catholic University of Tegucigalpa, of which he is Chancellor. In addition to the monthly pay, he is reportedly given a Christmas bonus of $64,200. In one year alone, 2015, he is accused of having taken almost $600,000 from the university, which would be equivalent of ten years pay at a normal rate of salary as a university chancellor.

Moreover, the report delivered to the pope includes an accusation that Rodriguez Maradiaga has made troubling payments to an intimate male friend of the auxiliary bishop of his archdiocese, Juan José Pineda, who lives in an apartment close to Maradiaga and who has shared his domicile with Pineda.

Cardinal Law’s Papal Sendoff Shows Church’s Laxity on Sex Abuse Scandal

Huffington Post

December 22, 2017

By Celia Wexler

I didn’t expect this punch in the gut from Pope Francis. But I guess I was naïve. Of course, the pope would say a formal and apparently heartfelt goodbye to Cardinal Bernard Law, the prelate whose reckless disregard for the welfare of children in the Boston archdiocese led to a tragedy that still harms and hurts.

Law died this week at 86. He had resigned in disgrace from his powerful position in Boston, and found a cushy berth in Rome. Still able to savor the pomp and perks of that rarest of rare male clubs, the college of cardinals.

Law never really apologized enough for the damage he wrought. But for posterity’s sake, let’s review : After the Boston abuse scandal became front-page news in Boston in 2002, the Globe tallied its initial toll: 500-plus claims of abuse by victims, the prospect of lawsuits seeking an estimated $100 million in damages, and an archdiocese – that had already paid out $40 million – teetering on the verge of bankruptcy.

But those numbers only scratch the surface. We’ll never know how the acid of Law’s betrayal of his flock corroded faith and ruined lives.

And yet, in the face of this untold harm, Pope Francis permitted Law to be buried with all the pomp and circumstance the church affords its powerful prelates, and with a papal blessing:

Fallen Kings: How Cardinal Law's Reign Cemented the Church's Fading Power


December 23, 2017

By Tovia Smith

When the cardinal's residence was built in the 1920s atop a hill in the leafy, most western outpost of Boston, it was modeled after an Italian palazzo. The grand mansion, replete with ornate mahogany and marble appointments, stood as a testament to the Boston Archdiocese's stature in the very Catholic city of Boston. Political candidates — local and national — would come calling, and even the pope came to visit.

When Cardinal Bernard Law took up residence in the Renaissance Revival mansion, Boston's Roman Catholic movers and shakers would flock to the backyard for his garden party fundraisers.

Today, a steady stream of students hauling backpacks and members of the public traipse across that same property. The mansion, now owned by Boston College, has been gutted and converted to an art museum and meeting rooms — a remarkable fall from grace that parallels that of the Boston Archdiocese itself.

A total of 65 acres of prime church property — possibly its most valuable in Massachusetts — was sold in a fire sale after the clergy sexual abuse crisis, when the church was struggling to pay some $85 million in settlements to victims. In the years since, the cost of settling claims surpassed $200 million, and the church's declining fortunes have been more than just financial.

Cardinal Law's funeral celebrated at Vatican

Catholic News Service via National Catholic Reporter

December 21, 2017

Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as archbishop of Boston when it became clear he had knowingly transferred priests accused of sexually abusing children, made mistakes as all people do, Cardinal Angelo Sodano said at his funeral.

Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals, celebrated the funeral Mass for Cardinal Law Dec. 21 at the Altar of the Chair in St. Peter's Basilica.

In his homily, Sodano said, "unfortunately, each one of us can sometimes lack in fidelity to our mission. That is why, at the beginning of every Mass, we say the 'Confiteor,'" the prayer that begins, "I confess to almighty God and to you, my brothers and sisters, that I have greatly sinned."

Cardinal Law funeral held with no mention of sex abuse crisis

Reuters via Union-Leader

December 21. 2017

By Philip Pullella

The funeral of Cardinal Bernard Law, who resigned as Archbishop of Boston 15 years ago after covering up years of sexual abuse of children by priests, was held in the Vatican on Thursday without a mention of what led to his downfall.

About 200 people attended the funeral Mass in a chapel in the apse of St. Peter's Basilica and presided over by a senior cardinal, Angelo Sodano. The wooden coffin lay on the floor with an open book of the gospels resting on it.

Pope Francis entered the chapel for a few minutes after the Mass to bless the coffin and conduct a brief service known as the Final Commendation and Farewell - which he does for all cardinals who die in Rome.

"He dedicated his whole life to the Church," Sodano said in his homily in praise of Law, who died on Wednesday.

Sodano listed the stages of Law's clerical life and said the late Pope John Paul had "called him to Rome" to be archpriest of a Rome basilica. But Sodano made no mention of the reason why he left Boston.

"Unfortunately, each of us can sometimes be lacking in our mission," Sodano said.

Death of disgraced Cardinal Bernard Law reveals a truth we’d rather ignore about the Catholic Church

Kansas City Star

December 21, 2017

By Melinda Henneberger

Twelve years ago, after the death of Pope John Paul II, I watched a man who will go down in history as a fierce protector of child rapists process into St. Peter’s to celebrate one of the nine masses that traditionally follow the death of a pontiff.

On that day, Cardinal Bernard Law, who died this week at 86, had already resigned in disgrace from his post as archbishop of Boston. He’d lost his stroke with the White House, too, after the Boston Globe revealed the full extent of the clerical sex abuse scandal that Law’s cover-up had both delayed and compounded.

In exile in Rome, Law was a pariah but also a man who retained some vestiges of power, especially on the key committee that helps choose bishops; if Catholics didn’t invent having it both ways, we certainly have long experience in it.

On the day in 2005 that Law eulogized his own protector, John Paul, I wrote that he should have stayed home instead of showing up as he did, surrounded by a security detail that treated the two American survivors of clerical abuse who’d come to peacefully protest outside the basilica as if they were the criminals.

Initially, I felt that Law’s Thursday funeral mass should not have been celebrated in St. Peter’s, either, by yet another predator coddler, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. And what did Pope Francis think he was doing, offering the closing prayer?

But perhaps I was wrong to write of Law’s memorial mass for John Paul that “the whole spectacle of the disgraced cardinal slinging incense was almost too baroque to bear.”

Because painful as it was to watch, the sight of the bloated, visibly broken Law made remembering the worst of John Paul’s legacy inescapable.

Child sex abuse: Class action looms in Nudgee Junior claims


December 23, 2017

By Greg Stolz

A class action against the Catholic Church over alleged shocking private school abuse could be looming, with dozens of former students from Nudgee Junior College coming forward.

The ex-students have contacted lawyers after The Sunday Mail revealed that two Queensland brothers have launched a multimillion-dollar claim for damages, for physical and sexual abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of teachers at the Brisbane school in the 1970s.

Former Nudgee Junior College captain John O’Leary and his brother Bill are seeking about $7 million in damages from the Christian Brothers for their alleged mistreatment while they were boarders.

The Supreme Court claim, lodged last week, alleges then-Nudgee Junior headmaster Brother John Regan subjected the O’Learys to ‘‘terrifying’’ physical and verbal attacks.

The siblings allege Regan beat them daily – sometimes knocking them unconscious – kicked them, struck them hundreds of times and lifted them off the ground by their ears.

John O’Leary, who was junior college captain and is now an unemployed labourer living on a derelict boat in north Queensland, alleges he lived “in a constant state of terror and anxiety” as an 11-year-old and 12-year-old at the school.

The brothers allege the abuse left them with profound and long-lasting psychological damage.

Lawyers said the case could be a landmark action, challenging the State Government’s failure to remove time limits for physical abuse claims, as other states have done.

Nudgee Junior College students Bill (left) and John O’Leary.
The O’Learys have hired high-profile Gold Coast law firm Nyst Legal.

Their lawyer, Brendan Nyst, said dozens of ex-Nudgee Junior students and some from other schools had come forward since The Sunday Mail broke the story last week.

“Our office has been inundated with calls from former students,” he said.

“We’re currently assessing the information.”

The State Government had last year removed the three-year time limit on sexual abuse claims, in line with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Sexual Abuse.

Mr Nyst said because Queensland did not to remove the time limits for physical abuse, as other states did, the O’Learys would have to convince the Supreme Court to allow their claim to proceed.

The O’Learys said they hoped the Catholic Church would not exploit abuse-claim time-limit laws.

“After all these years I think they’ll finally do the right thing,” John O’Leary said.

“Back then we were just kids. We had nowhere to run, nowhere to hide, and no one to turn to.”

The half-life and death of the Irish Catholic novel

Irish Times

December 23, 2017

By Eamon Maher

[Note: See also The Catholic priesthood blighted my youth and the youth of people like me, by John Boyne, Irish Times, November 7, 2014.]

In a country renowned for its Catholicism, it is unusual the ‘Catholic novel’ never took root

In Underground Cathedrals (2010), the Glenstal monk and author Mark Patrick Hederman described artists as the “secret agents” of the Holy Spirit: “Art has the imagination to sketch out the possible. When this happens something entirely new comes into the world. Often it is not recognised for what it is and is rejected or vilified by those who are comfortable with what is already there and afraid of whatever might unsettle the status quo”. Reflecting on this position, one wonders to what extent Irish novelists have fulfilled the important role outlined by Hederman. In the past, they definitely did offer an alternative view of existence by challenging aspects of church and state dominance, and suffering severe consequences as a result. In 1965, for example, John McGahern’s second novel The Dark unveiled a hidden Ireland where guilt, domestic violence, hypocrisy and sexual abuse seemed to thrive in a supposedly “Catholic” country. The novel attracted the attention of the Censorship Board, was banned and its writer lost his job as a primary school teacher in Clontarf. McGahern displayed no real bitterness as a result of this unfortunate interlude, realising that he lived in a “theocracy in all but name” and describing the Ireland of his youth and early adulthood in the following terms:

“Hell and heaven and purgatory were places real and certain we would go to after death, dependent on the Judgment. Churches in my part of Ireland were so crowded that children and old people who were fasting to receive Communion would regularly pass out in the bad air and have to be carried outside. Not to attend Sunday Mass was to court social ostracism, to be seen as mad or consorting with the devil, or, at best, to be seriously eccentric.”

In more recent times, the wheel has come full circle and it is now far more commonplace to criticise the actions of the Catholic Church than it is to defer to the institution. This results in many novelists taking a (possibly well-earned) swipe at what they consider the inadequacies of the system. Hence John Boyne, in A History of Loneliness (2014), follows the career of a Dublin priest, Fr Odran Yates, who fails to see, or chooses not to see, the paedophile tendencies of his contemporary in the seminary, Fr Tom Cardle, with calamitous consequences for his young nephew Aidan, who ends up being abused by Cardle. While this novel deals mainly with the negative impact Catholicism can have on clerical attitudes to sexuality in particular, it occasionally gives free rein to some of its author’s personal opinions. Take for example Cardle’s comments to Yates on his release from prison after serving a sentence for child abuse:

“You knew it, you kept it secret and this whole conspiracy that everyone talks about, the one that goes to the top of the Church, well it goes to the bottom of it too, to the nobodies like you, to the fella that never even had a parish of his own and hides away from the world, afraid to be spotted. You can blame me all you like, Odhran, and you’d be right to, because I’ve done some terrible things in my life, but do you ever think of taking a look at yourself? At your own actions? At the Grand Silence that you’ve maintained from the very first day?”

Right holy mess

Townsville Bulletin

December 23, 2017

By Shari Tagliabue

It must be difficult to be Catholic at this holy time of year; anyone who follows a faith from baptism to the grave should have been shaken to the core after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its findings this week.

After four years of investigation, the pomp and ceremony, immense power, vast wealth, traditions and rituals of the once-revered Catholic Church counted for little as thousands of testimonials documenting sexual and physical abuse weren’t able to be silenced by denials, shifting of blame, secretive payouts, gag orders or clandestine transfers.

The past month marked 2017 as the year victims found the courage to speak out, safety in numbers has allowed working-age women affected by sexual predators in the entertainment industry to break their shame-based silence, yet the victims of the most gross abuse of power imaginable weren’t in an industry of their own choosing and weren’t young adults, but children attending school, care facilities or church, with young boys just over 63 per cent of the victims.

It has been well documented that those affected have carried the trauma with them throughout their lives, with many, including a once vibrant, intelligent and carefree kid I knew well, unable to give evidence.

He, like many others, was abused at boarding school.

Unable to form relationships as an adult he masked his pain with drugs and alcohol before taking his own life.

What an irony that while suicide is considered a mortal sin by the Vatican, the same institution decreed in 2010 that ordaining women as priests was a sin on par with paedophilia.

There is no punishment harsh enough for the depraved predators who targeted children under the guise of caring for them. One of the 409 recommendations from the royal commission was that priests who heard confession from a paedophile should report the information to the police.

The church’s unwillingness to allow this shows a complete lack of understanding of their role - protector of innocents, not criminals, while another recommendation that priests should not be celibate is curious – depravity causes paedophilia, not celibacy.

For those of us that live without religious influence, it is unfathomable that an organisation can enjoy privacy, privilege, power and tax-free status under a belief system that absolves devotees of unlawful acts merely by secret confession and a few Hail Marys.

Police spend countless hours tracking paedophile networks online, surely protected confessionals have allowed like-minded men to collaborate and these vile networks to flourish?

The figures speak for themselves. Of the abuse documented, 68.3 per cent came from Catholic Church organisations, 14.7 per cent Anglican, 7.3 per cent from the Salvation Army and 4.2 per cent Protestant.

If the Catholic Church is now forced to depart from long-held traditions, so be it.

Abuse of minors has flourished for decades, but we cannot tolerate this protectionism any longer, or the long-held belief that churches are pillars of society.

What kind of society supports child abuse and paedophilia?

Equality, and protection of the vulnerable should be the core of any organisation, religious or otherwise.

Anything less is criminal.


Cardinal Law’s overlooked legacy: a new anti-clericalism in America’s Catholic heartland

Catholic Herald

December 23, 2017

By Michael Davis

[Note: See also Cardinal Sean O'Malley's 2011 letter about the Boston abuse statistics, his 2004 summary of the data, and the Boston Globe article on the priests left off O'Malley's 2011 list.

After the abuse crisis, priests are considered guilty until proven innocent

In the early 2000s, when claims clerical sex abuse in Boston first surfaced, there were roughly 1,350 priests ministering to the archdiocese. At least 270 were accused of abusing children. That’s upwards of 20 per cent of all clergy, both secular and religious.

Now, that does not mean one in five priests is a predator. But, then again, who knows? Cardinal Seán O’Malley, his successor as Archbishop of Boston, has called this “the greatest tragedy to befall children” in the history of Massachusetts. And he’s right. But it was the worst tragedy to befall the state’s priests, too. Every single one of them automatically comes under suspicion of being a paedophile.

Ireland has a better sense of how difficult this saga has been for those upstanding clergymen who find themselves lumped together with the heinous minority of predators. The 2014 film Calvary stars Brendan Gleeson as a priest who is threatened by a victim of clerical sex abuse – and only because he’s innocent. “There’s no point in killing a bad priest,” the man tells him. “But killing a good one! That’d be a shock.”

In another scene, Gleeson’s character passes a little girl on the side of the road. They walk together, talking about surfing and holidays, until her father pulls up alongside them and orders her into the car. “What the hell were you saying to her?” he asks Gleeson’s character. “I wasn’t saying anything,” the priest replies, stunned. “You looked deep in ——ing conversation to me,” the father snaps, and they peel out down the road. Gleeson is left standing there dumbly, humiliated.

Sexual misconduct scandals remind clergy victims of abuse: The dynamics of authority and acquiescence are similar themes in the crimes, victims say

Associated Press via Register-Guard

December 24, 2017

By Gillian Flaccus

When stories of sexual misconduct by powerful men ­began to fill the news this fall, Manny Vega immediately flashed back to his childhood. He saw strong similarities between the recent allegations against producers and politicians and his own abuse as a child by his parish priest.

“The parallels are in the power dynamics,” said Vega, a former police officer and decorated Marine who lives in Oxnard, Calif. “Whether you’re the leader of a church or the leader of a film studio, you’re ­going to be someone people look up to and someone people go to for guidance. It puts the victim at a horrible ­disadvantage.”

While there are key differences, the sexual harassment detailed in today’s headlines shares the same well-worn themes that made it so hard for Vega and hundreds of other clergy abuse victims to come forward more than a decade ago: fear of retribution and disbelief, impossible power dynamics and confidential settlements that bury complaints.

December 23, 2017

Cardinal's confession: Sex abuse victim reflects on meeting Law as scandal erupted

Gloucester Times

December 21, 2017

By Paul Leighton

Salem — In the summer of 2002, Bernie McDaid and his mother met with Cardinal Bernard Law in the Archdiocese of Boston's mansion in Brighton.

It was in the early stages of revelations that hundreds of children, including McDaid, a former altar boy at St. James Church in Salem, had been sexually abused by priests in the Boston area.

Law agreed to meet with McDaid and his mother to personally apologize. At the time, the stories of abuse had mostly come out of Boston, and McDaid asked Law why the problem was so prevalent in this area.

"He bowed his head like a puppy dog, looked at the floor and looked back up to me and said, 'I wish it was just Boston,'" McDaid recalled. "That was a very telling moment in my life. One of the heads of the Catholic church is basically telling you they're raping and molesting children all over the world."

McDaid recalled that story on Thursday morning as Law's funeral was being held at St. Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Law's death, at age 86 on Wednesday, has sparked emotional reactions among victims of clergy abuse, including anger at Law for his role in covering up the problem and moving abusive priests from parish to parish.

Statement from Bishop Campbell

Diocese of Columbus and Church of the Resurrection

December 21, 2017

By Bishop Frederick F. Campbell

It is with deep shock and sadness !hat we have learned of the death of Fattier James Csaszar, pastor of the Church of !he Resurrection in New Albany, who took his own life yesterday in Chicago.

On November 7, Father Csaszar was placed on an administrative leave by the Diocese of Columbus after diocesan officials were made aware of excessive and questionable text and telephone communications with a minor and potential misuse of church funds while serving as pastor of St Rose Parish, New Lexington. Following a diocesan review of the matter, the New Lexington Police were contacted and all information was turned over to !hem and the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation for !heir review; an investigation was being conducted at the time of Father Csaszar's death.

We are reminded throughout sacred scripture that God our Father is loving, merciful, compassionate and forgiving. We also know that in his years of priestly ministo; Fr. Csaszar did many good things for the people that he served in his parish assignments. And so we ask !hat eveo;one pray for Father Csaszar, his family, friends, and parishioners during this most difficult time.

Since 2002, U.S. church has had strict protocols in place to address abuse

Catholic News Service via The Pilot

December 22, 2017

By Julie Asher

The death of Cardinal Bernard F. Law opened "a lot of old wounds," causing "much pain and anger in those who have suffered so much already," Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley said Dec. 20, the day the Vatican announced Cardinal Law's death.

The passing of the cardinal in Rome has put the spotlight once again on Boston as the epicenter of a clergy sex abuse scandal that has affected the whole U.S. church. The scandal erupted in 2002 and Cardinal Law resigned a year later amid allegations of mishandling clergy sex abuse cases.

Since 2002, however, the U.S. Catholic Church has taken many steps to bring abusers to justice, to prevent abuse and to heighten awareness of signs and symptoms of abuse.

"Looking at the culture of safety and well-being, the modus operandi has changed," said Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the U.S. bishops' Secretariat for Child and Youth Protection. "No one can just go in to a parish and say they want to work with children, young people. They have to be cleared, background-checked, and it has to be done repeatedly. This ongoing awareness and mindfulness is in place."

‘A horrible year’: Australia’s leading Catholic slammed for Christmas message

The New Daily

December 23, 2017

[Note: Includes a video of Sydney Archbishop Anthony Fisher's Christmas message.]

Advocates for marriage equality have criticised Australia’s leading Catholic for saying 2017 was a ‘horrible year’ because of the same-sex marriage debate and the findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse.

In a Christmas message released on Friday, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher said Christian concepts of life and love were challenged during the “annus horribilis” of 2017.

Reverend Fisher also acknowledged the “shameful crimes and cover-ups” in the church uncovered by the child abuse royal commission.

“For people of faith you might say it’s been an annus horribilis,” he said.

“Our Christian conceptions of life and love have been challenged in the marriage and euthanasia debates, freedom of religion in Australia put in doubt and shameful crimes and cover ups in our church uncovered by the royal commission.”

Equality Campaign spokesman Clint McGilvray said Reverend Fisher’s decision to refer to both marriage equality and the sexual abuse inquiry in the same context was “completely wrong”.

Cardinal Bernard Law obituary: Most senior US prelate deposed in child-abuse scandal

Irish Times

December 22, 2017

Cardinal Bernard F Law, whose stature as archbishop of Boston and America’s senior Roman Catholic prelate was shattered in a maelstrom of scandal, acrimony and resignation in 2002 after revelations that he had protected abusive priests for years, died Wednesday. He was 86 and lived in Rome.

The Vatican confirmed the death in a news release.

He was a staunch defender of church orthodoxy, a Harvard-educated advocate of social justice for immigrants and the poor, who had campaigned for civil rights in the segregated South. And when he arrived in Boston in 1984 as Pope John Paul II’s new archbishop, he was welcomed like a favourite son.

Over the next 17 years, he became one of the nation’s most influential churchmen, a protégé and confidant of the Pope, a friend of presidents, a force in politics who travelled widely, conferred with foreign leaders and nurtured Catholic relations with Protestants, Jews and others. Admirers thought he might become the first American pope.

A Fictional Priest Uncovers a Long History of Clerical Child Abuse

New York Times

By Randy Boyagodadec, reviewing Crimes of the Father, by Thomas Keneally

December 22, 2017

“He was a bad priest, he knew it.” Graham Greene’s whiskey priest risks his life to celebrate Mass in anticlerical Mexico. He’s an enemy of the state, a man of God and the great hero of “The Power and the Glory.” Father Frank Docherty, the protagonist of Thomas Keneally’s new novel, “Crimes of the Father,” is a bad priest to some and a good one to others, and he certainly knows it. Sent away from his native Sydney in 1972 by an archbishop who found Docherty’s political activism and theological liberalism unacceptable, he is by the 1990s a psychologist and a professor in Canada. Under those auspices, he researches the sexual abuse of children and minors by the clergy. “He knew the suspicion he attracted from his brethren in the wider priesthood. He was a priest who ponced around academia all week, dealing with unhealthy and distasteful subjects, and helped out at a local parish on the weekend — how graceful of him!”

For his 36th novel, Keneally has chosen a subject that is by now painfully familiar to both Roman Catholics and the wider public. The main action takes place in Sydney in 1996 and concerns the city’s longstanding Irish population. This is a time and place and community in which those abused are just beginning to come forward more boldly, while church leaders and the faithful more broadly are themselves only just starting to reckon more openly with longstanding patterns of institutional failure, corruption and concealment. As he returns to Sydney to lecture on his research, resume complicated friendships and seek permission from the current archbishop to celebrate Mass again in his native archdiocese, Docherty becomes involved in an intertwined series of private and public revelations.

* * *

The novel’s far more distinctive and well-wrought character is Sarah Fagan, the Sydney cabdriver who picks up Docherty at the airport upon his return. Through intensely told flashback sequences, Keneally brings out the confusion and pain teenage Sarah experiences when she comes under the influence of Father Leo Shannon, a rising young star in the archdiocese. Under the guise of hiring her as his office assistant, Shannon makes Fagan feel privileged, even blessed, to spend secret time doing secret things with him. When he coolly rejects her for other girls, “she felt the jolt of this news, and a sickening bewilderment in the pit of her stomach; the extreme sentiments of the rejected.”

Don’t look now, but that special papal commission on sexual abuse has ceased to exist

Catholic Culture

December 19, 2017

By Phil Lawler

As of yesterday, the Pope’s special commission on sexual abuse formally ceased to exist.

The Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in 2013, for a four-year term that began on December 17 of that year. That term has now officially expired.

Vatican-watchers fully expect that Pope Francis will extend the group’s mandate (or, at this point, renew it)—although nobody knows whether or not he will renew the terms of the current members. And the group wasn’t likely to hold meetings during the Christmas season anyway, so no real harm has been done by allowing the group’s formal authority to lapse.

Nevertheless, at a time when an Australian royal commission is lambasting the Catholic Church for its handling of abuse complaints, it’s noteworthy that the Vatican has not announced the timely renewal of the papal commission.

Andrew Soper trial: Disgraced Catholic priest handed 18 year prison sentence for sex attacks against pupils at Ealing school

Get West London

December 22, 2017

Andrew Soper was handed the lengthy sentence on Thursday (December 21), after a jury had found him guilty of a string of offences at St Benedict’s School

A Roman Catholic priest has been jailed for 18 years for molesting children at a church school in Ealing .

The former abbot and headmaster Andrew Soper, 74, was handed the sentence on Thursday (December 21) at the Old Bailey after being found guilty following a 10-week trial earlier in the month .

He had been extradited to face 19 charges of indecent assault and buggery against 10 former pupils after fleeing the country with £182,000 from the Vatican bank in a bid to avoid responsibility for the abuse at fee-paying St Benedict’s School, in Eaton Rise .

Some of his victims were at court to hear his sentencing, with their statements read out detailing the effects the abuse had on their lives.

Priest Laurence Soper jailed for sexually abusing boys


December 21, 2017

A Catholic priest who abused boys at a London school in the 1970s and 1980s has been jailed for 18 years.

Laurence Soper, 74, fled to Kosovo with £182,000 from the Vatican bank in a bid to avoid prosecution for abusing boys at the independent St Benedict's School, in Ealing, where he taught.

He was extradited to face 19 charges of indecent and serious sexual assault against 10 former pupils.

He is the fourth man to be convicted of molesting children at the school.

Sentencing, Judge Anthony Bate said Soper's conduct was "the most appalling breach of trust" and he had "subverted the rules of the Benedictine order and teachings of the Catholic Church".

He said the former abbot and headmaster's life would now be "overshadowed by the proven catalogue of vile abuse".

After Bernard Law’s Death, Revisit One Clergy Abuse Survivor’s Story

WGBH Frontline

December 21, 2017

By Patrice Taddonio

[Note: Includes streaming link to the Hand of God documentary about Paul Cultrera and Fr. Joseph Birmingham. See also an a resource page for the movie and assignment history of Birmingham with links to documents.]

Cardinal Bernard Law, a key figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal that continues to haunt the Roman Catholic Church, died this week at the age of 86.

Law was the archbishop of Boston when starting in 2002, a Boston Globe investigation found that for years, he had transferred priests who sexually abused children within his archdiocese. After the stories broke, Law’s name became synonymous with the abuse scandal. He apologized and resigned from his post after the Globe’s revelations, but he continued to hold his title as cardinal up until his death on Tuesday.

All told, approximately 1,000 people would come forward alleging clergy sex abuse within the Archdiocese of Boston, exposing the depth of a scandal that had been largely hidden from public view under Law’s tenure.

Among the many people impacted by abusive priests within the archdiocese was Paul Cultrera, whose story was the focus of the 2007 Frontline documentary Hand of God (watch below).

Cultrera grew up in a Catholic home in Salem, Massachusetts, where pictures of popes and cardinals hung in the hallway. He was molested in the 1960s by Father Joseph Birmingham, who allegedly abused nearly 100 other children, and who would eventually be one of the priests named in the Boston Globe’s reporting.

Victims: $70 million in assets from Montana Catholic parishes at stake in clergy-abuse settlement


December 19, 2017

By Erik Olson

More than $70 million in assets at Catholic parishes in Eastern Montana, including in Billings, could be at stake as part of the regional diocese’s bankruptcy amid claims of sexual assault stemming back to the 1950s.

Survivors of sexual assault at the hands of priests and nuns dating back to the 1950s say the Great Falls-based diocese has understated its total assets by not including properties held in local parishes, according to documents filed Monday in federal bankruptcy court in Butte.

The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in March, a move that church officials said would help develop a compensation fund for victims and set aside money for more who come forward.

“The resolution of this litigation is critical to (the diocese) … because it will determine the magnitude of distributions to its creditors, including the survivors of the childhood sex abuse enabled by (the diocese) or whether (the diocese) can continue to avoid being held accountable to the survivors,” attorneys for the survivors wrote.

A total of 86 victims are involved, according to an October story by the Great Falls Tribune. The abuse cases took place over decades, mostly in rural and reservation parishes.

Bishop: Montana parishes should be exempt from clergy-abuse settlement


December 20, 2017

Great Falls - The bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is now responding to a new filing in the diocese's bankruptcy case.

In that lawsuit, attorneys for 86 victims who were sexually abused by eastern Montana priests dating back to the 1950s contend that as much as $70 million of church assets should be included as part of the bankruptcy estate.

Those assets include 14 parishes within the Great Falls-based diocese, four in Billings.

While the plaintiffs contend those assets should be available for the settlement, the diocese maintains the parishes are held in trust by the diocese and are therefore exempt..

"The distinction is we are under the corporation of the Roman Catholic Bishop of Great Falls. All the parishes come under that cooperation, but we hold assets only in trust, we don’t own any of the parish assets. And that’s the contention,” Bishop Michael Warfel told MTN News Wednesday.

Attorney Jim Stang, who represents the 86 victims, said Wednesday his goal is to reach a settlement with the diocese.

He told MTN news that under Montana law, the parishes do not exist on their own, and those assets should be available to creditors.

But in the end, that issue will be decided by a federal bankruptcy judge.

December 22, 2017

Children of Catholic priests chalk up win in fight for recognition

The Guardian

December 22, 2017

By Stephanie Kirchgaessner

The Vatican has at last broken its silence on priests who become fathers, as their children reveal the pain of secrecy

When he was a boy, Vincent Doyle spent most weekends with a priest he believed was his godfather.

Every Friday night they would watch MacGyver and Vincent would stay in a room that the priest, who was called JJ, kept for him. And every morning before school, he would call Vincent to wish him well.

It was not until years later when Doyle, a psychotherapist based in Galway, was sitting in the kitchen with his mother, leafing through old poems the late priest had written, that he asked the question he innately knew the answer to. “I said: ‘He was my father, wasn’t he?’ And I saw a tear come out of her,” Doyle says.

Catholic priests have been breaking their vows of celibacy and fathering children for decades, if not centuries. For just as long, the Vatican has not publicly addressed the question of what, if any, responsibility the church has to provide emotional and financial support to those children and their mothers. Until now.

A commission created by Pope Francis to tackle clerical sexual abuse will develop guidelines on how dioceses should respond to the issue of the children of priests.

The pontifical commission for the protection of minors has been criticised for doing too little on child sexual abuse. Its decision to take up the issue of priest fathers comes after Irish bishops published guidelines this year that have been hailed as a global model.

They say a child’s wellbeing must be the first consideration of a priest father, and that he must “face up” to his personal, legal, moral, and financial responsibilities.

Acknowledgement of the issue has come about in part because people such as Doyle, who has launched an organisation designed to help priests’ children cope with their difficult childhood circumstances, are speaking out like never before.

'It saddens me and turns my stomach upside down.'

Warwick Daily News

December 22, 2017

By Marian Faa

TWO LOCAL priests reflected with sadness on the history of child sexual abuse within Catholic institutions after the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse presented its final report to the Governor General on Friday, December 15.

After 54 years working as a Catholic priest in the Darling Downs and beyond, Fr Terry Hickling said the thought of abuse within the Church shocked and disappointed him.

"I am very, very sad that these things have occurred and that priests religious and people involved in our Church have been involved in pedophilia," Fr Hickling said.

"It saddens me and turns my stomach upside down."

Catholic institutions were vastly over-represented in reports of abuse taken from more than 8,000 survivors over the five years the Commission was conducted.

Nearly 65 per cent of victims identified as male, and most perpetrators of institutional child sexual abuse were teachers and persons in religious ministry.

The final report included 189 new recommendations, two of which have caused controversy within the Catholic Church.

They included introducing voluntary celibacy for priests and requiring priests to report matters relating child abuse disclosed in confession.

Parish priest Franco Filipetto the Church had committed itself to working with other authorities to implement the recommendations of the royal commission but it was only those two recommendations that had become particularly problematic.

"In my opinion these two recommendations cannot be resolved by the church at a national level," Fr Filipetto said.

Suit seeks $70M in Montana diocese assets for abuse victims

Associated Press

December 21, 2017

BILLINGS, Mont. – Representatives of sex abuse victims and their survivors are suing a bankrupt Roman Catholic diocese in Montana in an effort to ensure more than $70 million in assets are available for those abused by church officials.

The Diocese of Great Falls-Billings entered bankruptcy protection in March as part of settlements involving more than 400 people in sex abuse lawsuits. Church officials said at the time the diocese and its insurers would contribute to a fund to compensate victims and set aside additional money for those who had yet to come forward.

Mediation has not produced a settlement so far.

A committee of unsecured creditors representing eight sex abuse survivors sued the diocese in U.S. Bankruptcy Court this week, aiming to reach a negotiated settlement. California attorney James Stang, who represents the committee, said the complaint was "part of the process," the Billings Gazette reported.

U.S. Catholic leaders have been grappling with a clergy sexual abuse crisis that exploded in 2002 following reporting by The Boston Globe. Nationwide, the church has paid several billion dollars in settlements since 1950. More than 6,500 clergy members have been accused of abuse and hundreds have been removed from church work.

In the Montana bankruptcy case, the church says the disputed assets are held in trust for its parishes and therefore unavailable for creditors. The creditors argue the property is part of the church's estate and should be available for victims.

Catholic priest jailed for 18 years over child sex abuse

Agence France-Presse

December 21, 2017

A priest was jailed for 18 years on Thursday for sexual abusing boys at a top British Catholic school in crimes dating back to the 1970s.

Andrew Soper, 74, fled to Kosovo in 2011 to avoid prosecution over charges that he molested boys while headmaster at St Benedict’s School in London.

He was extradited in 2016 to face 19 counts of indecent assault and buggery against 10 former pupils in the 1970s and 1980s.

A jury at the Old Bailey central criminal court in London found him guilty of all charges on December 6.

Sentencing him Thursday, judge Anthony Bate said that Soper’s conduct was “the most appalling breach of trust” and that he had “subverted the rules of the Benedictine order and teachings of the Catholic Church”.

Bate said Soper’s life would now be “overshadowed by the proven catalogue of vile abuse”.

Clergy Abuse Victims Haunted by Sex Harassment News

Associated Press

December 22, 2017

By Gillian Flaccus

Clergy abuse victims who went public to force change in the Roman Catholic Church see haunting similarities between their experience and the experiences of women now describing abuse at the hands of powerful men.

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Thousands of clergy abuse victims went public over the past two decades to shed light on sexually abusive priests within the Roman Catholic Church.

Now, many of these victims are being reminded of their abuse by the sexual misconduct scandals gripping Hollywood and Washington, D.C.

They see haunting similarities between their experience and the experiences of women coming forward about abuse at the hands of powerful men. They include fear of retribution, impossible power disparities, and confidential settlements that bury complaints.

Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein has denied allegations that he raped three women and sexually assaulted or harassed dozens of others. In the fallout, dozens of other high-profile men have been publicly accused of misconduct.

The Catholic church has paid more than $3 billion to settle clergy abuse cases since 1950, including a record-breaking $660 million settlement in Los Angeles a decade ago.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Opinion: Bernard Law was the face of a dysfunctional Catholic Church


December 21, 2017

By Alfred P. Doblin

Law became the face of this institutional evil, and his legacy will remain solely that, for generations to come.

There was a time when “men of the cloth” were revered. To have a priest in the family was a sign of pride for many a Catholic parent. Priests were good men, focused on helping others.

Then there was the time of Boston Cardinal Bernard Law. And nothing would be the same again.

In fairness to Law, who died Wednesday in Rome at age 86, he was not the only prelate who enabled predator priests to destroy the lives of hundreds upon hundreds of children. But through the great reporting of The Boston Globe that pulled back the drapes on this sordid system, Law became the face of this institutional evil, and his legacy will remain solely that, for generations to come.

I spent 1988 to 1998 working in the Catholic press, including stints as editor of the archdiocesan newspapers for Detroit and Los Angeles. During those years, I can’t recall a pedophilia case coming to my attention. In retrospect, that is not surprising, since during that time bishops were still able to keep a firm lid on accusations. Priests could be reassigned for many reasons, and unless you were connected into a particular parish you would have no idea if there was a nefarious reason for the shift. And even then, facts would have been hard to come by.

The ‘hurt is still there’ over abuse crisis, Boston cardinal says

Catholic News Service

December 21, 2017

By Mark Labbe

BRAINTREE, Mass. (CNS) — Journalists crowded into a room in the Archdiocese of Boston’s Braintree headquarters Dec. 20 as Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley answered questions following the death of Cardinal Bernard F. Law, whose death was officially announced by the Vatican earlier that day.

The former archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law resigned in 2002 amid allegations of mishandling cases of sexual abuse of minors by priests in the archdiocese. In 2004, the cardinal was named archpriest of a basilica in Rome, where he died at age 86.

“This is a very difficult day for survivors and all of us in the Archdiocese of Boston and for me,” said Cardinal O’Malley at the news conference.

“We have anticipated this day, recognizing that it would open a lot of old wounds and cause much pain and anger in those who have suffered so much already, and we share in their suffering,” he continued.

Law’s death creates delicate tightrope act for U.S. Catholic leaders


December 22, 2017

By Christopher White

NEW YORK - At a press conference in Boston on Wednesday, Cardinal Sean O’Malley was asked whether he believed Cardinal Bernard Law, his predecessor who became the public face of the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals, would be welcomed into heaven.

Law died in Rome on Wednesday, and is largely remembered for his damning cover-up of clergy sexual abuse.

O’Malley told reporters that he hoped everyone would be welcomed into heaven - while also adding that he was not the one to judge. He also said that there was more to Law than his mistakes - a means of acknowledging the obvious, while also pulling a page from Shakespeare in an effort to perhaps signal that discretion is the better part of valor.

While Law’s death did not exactly elicit the sounds of silence that some had predicted, and indeed, some had even hoped for, it was by no means the usual fanfare that typically surrounds the death of a United States cardinal.

When Cardinal William Keeler, who led the archdiocese of Baltimore from 1989 to 2007, died in March of this year, his death was met with an outpouring of tributes from fellow U.S. bishops. In the days following his death, Keeler received a grand send-off with his reposed body given viewings at two locations, and Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York served as homilist for the funeral mass.

Survivors of sexual abuse in Catholic Church decry the Vatican’s honorable funeral for Cardinal Law

The Washington Post

December 21, 2017

By Sarah Pulliam Bailey

Survivors of clergy sexual abuse reacted Thursday with outrage after the Catholic Church honored disgraced former Boston Archbishop Bernard Law with a full cardinal’s funeral, despite his role in a major coverup from which the church is still reeling. Law died Wednesday at age 86.

Law was honored with the standard funeral Mass of cardinals who live at the Vatican, as he did. The ceremony did not include mention of his role in the Boston archdiocese scandals that spanned decades. Pope Francis led a short benediction at the service.

Diocese extends deadline to apply for sex-abuse compensation fund


December 20, 2017

By Bart Jones

New Jan. 31 date is set mainly because victims, with painful memories, are finding it difficult to complete paperwork, administrator says.

People who previously filed complaints with the Diocese of Rockville Centre that they had been sexually abused by clergy will have an extra month to apply for a new compensation and reconciliation program, officials said Wednesday.

The diocese is shifting the deadline of the program’s first phase from Dec. 31 to Jan. 31 largely because many victims are struggling to complete the paperwork, which involves reliving painful memories, said Camille Biros, one of the program’s administrators.

“Some of them are so traumatized that it is difficult for them to now start to reopen the process and put it down on paper,” Biros said.

The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, announced in mid-October, will provide victims with financial compensation if they agree not to take legal action against the diocese in the future. It was modeled after programs launched over the past year in the Archdiocese of New York and the Diocese of Brooklyn.

Ex-priest sent to US to face child sexual abuse charges

MENAFN - Asia Times

December 22, 2017

A US court has set the bail for a Catholic priest charged 15 years ago with child sex abuse at US$5 million after finally getting him back from the Philippines, where he fled after the charges were filed.

Fernando Laude Sayasaya was extradited to the US on December 15 after he was arrested in the Philippines on November 19. He now faces charges that were filed in Cass County District Court in North Dakota in late 2002.

Guam sex abuse cases could eclipse Hawaii's

The Guam Daily Post

December 22, 2017

By Kevin Kerrigan

The number of sex abuse cases accusing former Guam priests of sexual abuse decades ago now total 147.

And there are more cases to come, said attorney Michael Patterson, who is representing the Archdiocese of Agana, in a hearing yesterday in the District Court. "There are a couple more to be added on here soon,” he said.

In reviewing the cases, Chief Judge Frances Tydingco-Gatewood observed that there are now more abuse cases on Guam than there were in Hawaii, which has been dealing with a similar series of clergy abuse cases.

Currently, 103 of the Guam cases are in federal court before Tydingco-Gatewood. Superior Court Judge Michael Bordallo presides over 44 others. Tydingco-Gatewood said she’ll meet with Bordallo in January to work out procedures for handling the local and federal cases going forward.

In April 2016, nearly 150 victims of child sex abuse filed lawsuits against Hawaii's Catholic Church and other local institutions in the past four years, hawaiinewsnow.com reported. This includes more than two dozen lawsuits that were filed within the last two weeks in April 2016, which was the deadline to sue, the news website reported.

The Guam sex abuse plaintiffs' lawsuits collectively seek close to $500 million, Post files show.

In yesterday's hearing, Tydingco-Gatewood expressed disappointment that the mediation protocols in the clergy sex abuse cases have not yet been completed.

As a result, the start of the mediation process has been pushed back to June, from March next year.

Lawsuit: Grandmother scolded priest on abuse

The Guam Daily Post

December 22, 2017

By Mindy Aguon

A former priest allegedly paid a young boy to lie face down on a mat during an outing at the Lonfit River and then raped him in the early 1970s, according to a new lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Guam on Wednesday.

J.M., who used initials to protect his identity, filed a lawsuit against the Archdiocese of Agana, the Boy Scouts of America and retired priest Louis Brouillard.

The former Barrigada altar boy and Boy Scout alleges he was subjected to Brouillard exposing himself before Mass and providing the altar boys with pornographic magazines to make them more pliable to his sexually deviant wishes, court documents state.

J.M. also said he would swim naked during Boy Scout outings and let Brouillard grope and touch him because he would be rewarded after swimming with restaurant food that he and his family could not afford.

During one outing when J.M. was 14, Brouillard allegedly took him aside and paid him money to lie down on a mat and then raped the boy. J.M. jumped up and screamed in pain and was later forced to defecate in his pants due to the "evil imposed upon him," the lawsuit states.

Upon returning home, J.M told his grandmother what Brouillard had done to him.

The next day, J.M.'s grandmother went to her nearby Catholic church with her grandson and behind closed doors yelled at the priest in protest as to what Brouillard had done to J.M.

The lawsuit seeks $10 million in damages.

Louisville priest convicted of sexual abuse in the 70s has been denied parole by board

Louisville Courier Journal

December 21, 2017

By Darcy Costello

A Roman Catholic priest found guilty of molesting a boy at summer camp in the 1970s will not be immediately released on parole.

The Kentucky Parole Board instead voted to give Father Joseph Hemmerle a 24-month deferment, meaning his case will be considered by the board again in two years, Department of Corrections spokeswoman Lisa Lamb said Thursday.

Hemmerle was sentenced in February to seven years in prison after being found guilty at trial in November 2016 of a single count of immoral or indecent practice with a child. He is being held at Green River Correctional Complex, Lamb said.

The 24-month deferment was a unanimous decision from the two-member panel, Lamb said. It came after a victim impact hearing held Monday.

Australian Christian Churches criticised in royal commission report as youth predator jailed

The Newcastle Herald

December 21, 2017

By Joanne McCarthy

AUSTRALIA’S largest Pentecostal Christian church has denied any knowledge of child sex allegations against a predatory church youth leader who was jailed only days before the church was criticised in the child abuse royal commission final report.

Christopher Laban Bridge, 69, of Yarramalong – a prominent member of the Generation City Church at Hamilton - was jailed on December 13 for sexually assaulting four boys at Assemblies of God churches in Dubbo and the Hunter in the 1970s and 1980s.

He moved to the Hamilton church in the mid 1970s after a Dubbo victim’s parents reported Bridge’s sexual assaults to Dubbo Assemblies of God pastor, the late Jack Allsopp. No action was taken after the report, a court was told.

Australian Christian Churches (the former Assemblies of God) said it had no record of any child sexual abuse allegations against Bridge until 2014, despite a Hunter victim’s mother saying she told a senior church pastor in the early 1980s about her son’s description of explicit sex acts committed by Bridge.

“The first time the ACC movement was made aware of Christopher Bridge’s paedophile activities in the 1970s and 1980s was when a victim spoke of his experiences to an ACC pastor in October 2014,” a church spokesperson said on Wednesday.

But a Hunter victim backed his mother’s account, saying the failure of the senior church pastor to act had devastating consequences for him and his family.

Evangelical Women Just Joined #MeToo – and They're Urging Churches to Address Abuse

United States
TIME Magazine

December 21, 2017

By Abigail Abrams

The conversation this fall around sexual harassment and abuse has led millions of women to speak out about their experiences and begin demanding change in their industries. Now the movement has reached a new community: evangelical Christians.

More than 140 evangelical Christian women published a statement this week calling on churches to support women who come forward with stories of abuse, and to address what they see as silence by many church leaders and congregations.

Within about 24 hours of the statement’s release on Wednesday, it garnered more than 3,000 signatures, including prominent Christian women like authors Jen Hatmaker and Ann Voskamp, poet Amena Brown and Lynne Hybels, co-founder of one of the country’s largest churches. The statement features the hashtag #SilenceIsNotSpiritual and kicks off a campaign that will run through Easter.

David Lujan says accused priest will testify

Kuam News

December 21, 2017

By Krystal Paco

Plaintiffs' counsel had plenty to say about Father Louis Brouillard, who is named in majority of the 150 clergy sexual abuse lawsuits filed to date.

According to plaintiffs' attorney David Lujan during a status conference this week in the federal court, Brouillard is "as sharp as they come" and "no question he'll testify in favor of us."

Parties met with Brouillard in Minnesota earlier this year to interview the priest.

December 21, 2017

New Albany Priest Under Investigation For Contact With Minor Takes Own Life

WOSU Radio Public Media

December 21, 2017

By Steve Brown

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Columbus says a New Albany priest who was suspended over questionable contact with a minor has committed suicide.

An emailed statement from the diocese says Father James Csaszar took his own life in Chicago on Wednesday. No other details about his death were given.

Csaszar had been on leave from position at the Church of the Resurrection in New Albany since November 7, when diocese officials say they learned about what they called “excessive and questionable” text and telephone contact with a minor.

The statement says the diocese was also looking into the potential misuse of church funds when Csaszar served at the St. Rose Parish in New Lexington.

Preti pedofili: lo Stato italiano non può perseguire i reati (e la Chiesa non vuole muoversi)

Link Iesta

December 21, 2017

By Carmine Gazzanni

[Google Translate: Since 2000, 136 pedophile priests have been condemned or confessed. After the UN accusations and several attempts, the first question arrives in Parliament that systematically addresses the age-old question of pedophile priests]

Dal 2000 ad oggi sono stati 136 i preti pedofili condannati o reo confessi. Dopo le accuse dell'Onu e diversi tentativi, arriva in Parlamento la prima interrogazione che affronta in maniera sistematica l’annosa questione dei sacerdoti pedofili

Centotrentasei. Tanti sono i sacerdoti condannati o reo confessi per violenze e molestie a danno dei minori. E parliamo soltanto dei casi dal 2000 ad oggi, cui si aggiungono un altro centinaio di prelati indagati o imputati per le stesse ragioni. Sono numeri, questi, forniti da Rete l’Abuso, l’associazione che raduna i sopravvissuti agli abusi dei sacerdoti. «E il dato è evidentemente parziale», ci dice il presidente Francesco Zanardi, anche lui vittima, quando era ragazzo, di violenza sessuale. Un buco nero entro cui sono finiti in tanti. E il caso raccontato in questi giorni da Le Iene di abusi addirittura all’interno delle mura vaticane, non è che l’ultimo esempio di una lunga serie, resa possibile anche dai pesanti silenzi dello Stato italiano. Un silenzio, però, rotto ora da un atto che lo stesso Zanardi definisce «epocale». È stata, infatti, presentata la prima interrogazione parlamentare che affronta in maniera sistematica l’annosa questione dei sacerdoti pedofili, chiedendo un intervento fattivo al governo italiano.

Già, perché lo Stato avrebbe potuto e potrebbe fare molto di più. Basti questo: a differenza della gran parte degli altri Paesi dell’Unione europea, non c’è in Italia una commissione parlamentare ad hoc. Certo, ci sarebbe l’Osservatorio «per il contrasto della pedofilia e della pornografia minorile», che fa capo direttamente al dipartimento per le Pari opportunità; peccato che non intervenga quando di mezzo c’è l’abito talare. E, ancora, c’è il certificato anti-pedofilia introdotto in Italia già nel 2014, ma alcune categorie sono esentate dal presentarlo. Tra queste, proprio i sacerdoti.

Midland parish priest stands down over ‘inappropriate behaviour with adults’

The West Australian

December 19, 2017

By Nick Butterly

A Catholic priest has stood down from a Perth parish amid claims he engaged in “inappropriate behaviour with adults”.

Perth’s Catholic Archbishop Timothy Costelloe wrote to worshippers at the Midland parish at the weekend to confirm Father Kenneth Asaba had offered his resignation after an internal investigation.

In a statement, Archbishop Costelloe said about two years ago allegations were made against Father Asaba and the complainants were encouraged to take the issue to the WA professional standards office of the Catholic Church.

The details of the complaints have not been made public.

That investigation found against Father Asaba.

The priest requested an independent review of the finding. This was conducted by a barrister.

The review again found against Father Asaba.

Archbishop Costelloe said Father Asaba, who is originally from Kenya, was now taking time to consider his future.

In the statement, the Church said he had been barred from acting as a priest in the diocese.

“This has been a distressing experience for every-one concerned,” Arch-bishop Costelloe said.

“This distress has been added to by the time it has taken to reach that point.

“I apologise for this but can only say that the process must be undertaken with care, thoroughness and impartiality — and this takes time.”

Archbishop Costelloe admitted many parishioners would be confused by the situation and possibly angry about the process.

He said those who made the complaints would receive continuing support from the church pro-fessional standards office.

Opinion: Nothing sacred about Church confessional — not a damned thing

The West Australian

December 19, 2017

By Gemma Tognini

I was on the phone to a friend talking about a tricky dynamic she’d been trying to navigate between her and a colleague. My friend is strong, successful and capable.

She is generous and kind, bloody hilarious and great with people in general. Still, she’d been having problems with a particular chap and couldn’t nail down why.

She said part of it was his demeanour, the way he spoke to her, the way she felt belittled by him, but even that wasn’t enough to explain her overwhelming sense of paralysis and nausea.

Her need to run to the bathroom after each difficult interaction they had. In short, she felt incapable of navigating a situation she would normally have sailed through.

As I listened to her talk, it got quiet on the other end of the phone. Then I heard crying. A soft, heavy sobbing. In an instant, almost like the gentle cracking of an eggshell, it had dawned on her why she had reacted this way.

“He reminds me of the man who sexually abused me when I was a little girl,” she said.

I’m sharing this story with my friend’s permission, even though you’ll never know her name.

And I’m sharing this story because last week when the report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse was handed down, there was one response that sparked a flame of rage within me that I have been unable to extinguish.

The swiftness with which the Catholic Church defended what it calls the “seal of the confessional” stunned me, to be honest, though it shouldn’t have. It’s a response that was entirely on form.

Now, before I go on let me make a couple of things clear. I’m writing this as a Christian, a singularly dull fact in my view, but relevant in the context of this column. I’m not a church hater, an atheist, hater of any faith, let alone the Catholic faith.

I went to a Catholic school and had a terrific experience there. My own evolution of faith over the past 40-odd years took me from being a kid who had Catholicism chosen for her, to a person who, as a teenager found a home, if you like, in a contemporary Christian congregation.

What I’m saying is that I’m not taking aim from the sidelines as a spectator in this game. I am well and truly in the arena.

So, back to this confessional thing and let me recap and get straight to the point.

Conservative Jewry has #MeToo moment as decades-old sexual abuse surfaces

The Times of Israel

December 19, 2017

By Cathryn J. Prince

After an internal investigation, the movement cuts ties with its longtime youth head. But a leading child advocate says it shouldn't take one person's courage to change a system

NEW YORK — An anonymous November 9 Facebook post cracked a dam of silence surrounding a decades-long child sex scandal as allegations of abuse began trickling forth from the dozens of alleged victims of Jules Gutin, the longtime and much lauded director of the Conservative movement’s youth movement.

Earlier this week the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) severed ties with Gutin, 67, after an internal investigation substantiated an allegation of child sexual abuse dating back 33 years.

For many former USY members, the airing of the abuse allegations is a moment of reckoning that is late in coming — and not entirely embraced by all.

Speaking from his Jerusalem office, former United Synagogue Youth (USY) leader Arnie Draiman said he wasn’t shocked late last week to hear USCJ had severed ties with Gutin, but is dismayed by the shattering silence from his cohort in the announcement’s wake.

Why I spoke out: Olivia Munn pushes for a 'zero-tolerance policy' for sexual assault

Entertainment Weekly

December 21, 2017

By Olivia Munn

Since sharing her own experience with sexual harassment in Hollywood, actress Olivia Munn has become a vocal advocate for change. She opens up to EW about an industry she says has a history of forgiving abusers — and punishing victims.

In an interview with the BBC [in the wake of allegations against Harvey Weinstein, which Weinstein denies], Woody Allen said he felt sad for Weinstein and warned of a “witch-hunt atmosphere…where every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” However, the possibility of an overcorrection is much less worrisome than all of the injustices that led us to this moment. Woody’s gut instinct to fear what this might become would be better suited to a gut instinct to hold back an urge that could be wrong.

My experience with [director] Brett Ratner enforced in me the belief that I deserve to be here and that I should be able to reach for my dreams without being harassed and abused, no matter what economic or social position I find myself in. [Munn is one of six women who in the Los Angeles Times on Nov. 1 accused Ratner of sexual misconduct. Ratner disputes their claims.] How will anyone know you’re worth it if you don’t?

In our world today — and it’s not just Hollywood, it’s the same for girls and women all over the world who have survived sexual abuse and/or harassment — abusers don’t usually get in trouble unless the victim is broken first, because the violating act alone is not damaging enough to spark society’s outrage. It’s a marathon towards self-destruction in order to gain credibility and a vicious circle of victim-blaming.

When people ask how these men in powerful positions were able to hurt so many people for so many years, I look to the people at the top and ask those questions.

The system that lets men like Ratner and Allen back in, is the same system that creates disparity. It’s tilted to roll back into their favor while the rest of us are saddled with a Sisyphean task.

Imagine Hollywood as a mountain with all of the powerful people positioned at the top. The rest of us have to push a boulder up this hill while running through numerous gauntlets and any abuse we encounter is just par for the course and accepted. I know it’s acceptable abuse because no matter how badly certain people f— up, they fall right back to their position of power while most people have to go to the back of the line and earn their way back up.

This is not a “women’s” issue, this is an abuse-of-power issue…and until we eradicate the diseased roots of our infrastructure and make foundational, systemic changes, nothing will change.

Case report shows systematic failure at Michigan State led to further Larry Nassar terror

Yahoo Sports

December 20, 2017

By Dan Wetzel

The need for a single, powerful law enforcement agency to fully investigate all aspects of Larry Nassar’s reign of terror is reaffirmed with each new detail in this sick, sordid scandal.

The Department of Justice. The FBI. A state attorney general’s office that’s truly committed, the way Pennsylvania was in not just convicting former Penn State football coach Jerry Sandusky on 45 counts of molestation, but jailing his administrative enablers also.

So far everything has been patch-work, slow and inefficient. Nassar, 54, is serving 60 years after being sentenced this month on federal child pornography charges. He still faces additional state prison time after pleading guilty to sexual assault. And in all likelihood, he will never see the outside of a prison again for a sexual abuse scandal that on scale is exponentially greater than Sandusky.

The fog of confusion, however, will only increase until there are true investigations into Michigan State, where he worked, the United States Olympic Committee and USA Gymnastics, where he volunteered and, Twistars Gymnastics Club, the Lansing-area operation with which he associated.

Wednesday brought word that in 2016, USA Gymnastics paid gold medal winner McKayla Maroney a reported $1.25 million to not publicly mention that she was abused by Nassar. It is a vomit-inducing revelation about the USAG, an organization that grew rich off the talents of young female athletes. Anyone with even cursory knowledge of it should resign immediately.

The news came not via law enforcement, though, but a civil suit filed in Los Angeles. Maroney previously chose to break the non-disclosure and detail Nassar’s attacks on social media and in a court-filed victim impact statement. The suit argues such agreements are illegal in California, where Maroney lived. Her attorney explained she made the deal only because she was, at the time, suicidal due to the trauma.

“She couldn’t function,” attorney John Manly told ESPN. “She couldn’t work. [The USGA was] willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of one of the most famous gymnasts in the world because they didn’t want the world to know they were protecting a pedophile doctor.”

The civil suit continues a trend in this vast and terrible story. The truth has come not from official investigative channels, none of which stopped Nassar. Every report, review and administrator failed the victims, either via incompetence, disorganization or, perhaps, worse.

McKayla Maroney's lawyer says USA Gymnastics paid for her silence

Yahoo Sports

December 20, 2017

By Jay Busbee

Note: This story contains graphic details of abuse which some readers may find disturbing.

A lawyer for Olympic icon McKayla Maroney is charging that USA Gymnastics paid her to keep silent about abuse she suffered at the hands of former team doctor Larry Nassar.

John Manly, an attorney for the gold medal-winning gymnast, has filed suit on her behalf against USA Gymnastics in Los Angeles Superior Court. He contends the organization sought to buy her silence, paying her a reported $1.25 million, according to the Wall Street Journal, while she was emotionally traumatized from the effects of Nassar’s abuse.

“I want people to understand that this kid had no choice. She couldn’t function. She couldn’t work,” Manly told ESPN. “They [USAG] were willing to sacrifice the health and well-being of one of the most famous gymnasts in the world because they didn’t want the world to know they were protecting a pedophile doctor.”

Nassar has pleaded guilty to 10 counts of criminal sexual conduct, and is scheduled to be sentenced in Michigan in January. He is already serving 60 years in prison on child pornography charges. Nassar, who served as USA Gymnastics’ doctor during four Olympic Games, also faces civil lawsuits charging he abused more than 140 women during medical exams.

Bishop expresses sorrow regarding Garza murder

The Monitor

December 21, 2017

[Note: This article includes a link to Bishop Flores' full letter. See also a PDF of the original Pawlicki letter.]

Bishop Daniel E. Flores of the Diocese of Brownsville issued a statement Wednesday expressing the sorrow of the Catholic Church regarding the 1960 murder of Irene Garza by a member of the clergy.

“As a Catholic, as bishop of this local church, and as a human being I am horrified by this,” the bishop wrote in a message posted on the diocese website. “The suffering caused to so many by this crime in incalculable.”

“On behalf of the church, for the sinful actions of members of the church, I express this sorrow to the family, and to those whose faith has been injured by these events,” the message continued.

Read Bishop Flores' full letter.

John Feit, 85, who served as a priest in the McAllen area in 1960, was sentenced to life in prison on Dec. 8 after a jury found him guilty of Garza’s murder. An autopsy report confirmed that the schoolteacher died by asphyxiation, likely by suffocation.

Addressing evidence introduced during the trial that suggested a conspiracy between the church and law enforcement at the time shielded Feit from prosecution, the bishop said he has no answers.

“The Diocese of Brownsville did not exist back then and I have no special insight into what was done or not done by civil and church authorities in the aftermath of the crime,” Flores said in the statement. “And answers to many questions about what people around the investigation were thinking and doing in 1960 were not given in the verdict.”

Jurors were shown an October 1960 letter between clergy officials regarding the case that suggested that officials feared bad publicity from the conviction of a priest would trigger political ramifications extending from the Rio Grande Valley to the White House.

Rev. Joseph Pawlicki, a pastor at a church outside Austin, wrote to Rev. Lawrence Seidel, the head of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate order to which Feit belonged, urging him to hire a private investigator to find “loopholes” in the state’s case against Feit.

The Death of Cardinal Bernard Law and the Legacy of Clergy Sex Abuse

The New Yorker

December 20, 2017

By James Carroll

In the spring of 1989, a group of black-clad clergy gathered to bury one of their own—a Boston priest named Father Joseph Birmingham. Presiding at the funeral was their leader, Cardinal Bernard Law, who died himself on Wednesday, in Rome. As the obsequies for Birmingham drew to a close and the crowd began to disperse, Law was confronted by a man named Thomas Blanchette. He identified himself as having been sexually abused as a child by Birmingham, who would ultimately be accused of having molested more than forty boys. In 2002, Blanchette told the Boston Globe what happened next; Law “laid his hands on my head for two or three minutes. And then he said this: ‘I bind you under the power of the confessional never to speak a word of this to another.’ ”

Law never admitted saying such a thing, but why would Blanchette make it up? Of all the gruesome details that surfaced during the Globe’s investigation into Law’s years-long protection of rapist priests, this incident, for a Catholic, epitomizes the perversion. What Law did in response to a traumatized victim was to reverse the meaning of the Seal of the Confessional, the solemn Catholic mandate that forbids priests from revealing anything said by a penitent in the sacred forum of the Sacrament of Penance. In doing so, he was seeking to protect not only the one priest but also the clerical structure of power to which, even dead, that priest still belonged. Law was prepared to twist the Sacrament itself to his own foul purpose, even exploiting the ritual gesture of hands imposed on a vulnerable penitent’s head. This was a savage abuse of Catholic piety, obviously intended to intimidate and silence. It amounted to a sacrilege.

But then, of course, the entire saga of Catholic sex abuse—thousands of priests harming tens of thousands of young people; the worldwide Catholic episcopate protecting the abusers instead of the children—is a sacrilege. And, no, it has not yet been finished with. Law’s death is a reminder not only of the hierarchy’s grievous failure during the sex-abuse crisis but of the way in which the Church has yet to reckon with what the crisis laid bare.

Law’s own fate offers an object lesson in Vatican denial. After he was forced to resign as Archbishop of Boston, in 2002, he was rescued from disgrace by Pope John Paul II, who appointed him to one of the most prestigious positions in Catholicism—Archpriest of the Basilica of St. Mary Major. It was a clear signal of support. After all, Law had merely implemented the Vatican’s own policy of reserving to Church jurisdiction, instead of civil authority, the abuse of children by priests. As a 2001 directive from Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who later became Pope Benedict XVI, put it, crimes “perpetrated with a minor by a cleric . . . are subject to the pontifical secret.” That Law, banished from Boston, was then protected in Rome meant that the entire structure of misogynist clericalism—all male, sexually repressed, blatantly dishonest—was protected, too. That structure is intact, protected still, even by the otherwise liberalizing Pope Francis. On Thursday, Law will be laid to rest in Rome with the full panoply of observances due an honored prince of the Church, with Francis himself pronouncing the final blessing. The ongoing grief, rage, and heartbreak of abuse survivors will not, one presumes, be acknowledged.

Gelzinis: Only the Almighty knows Law’s fate

Boston Herald

December 21, 2017

By Peter Gelzinis

No hiding sins of the cloth from God

“Bless me Father, for I have sinned.”

To grow up Catholic is to have those words burned into your consciousness by the age of seven. When I recited them for the first time, I was kneeling in the dark, confessing what few sins I could imagine to a voice on the other side of an opaque window.

But I still recall feeling “cleansed” when the priest forgave my childish sins and told me to say three “Hail Marys” and a good Act of Contrition.

In time, Catholics come to understand that the sacrament of penance, or confession, is actually a dress rehearsal for Judgment Day, when we will all have to come clean for real before the Lord.

For Cardinal Bernard Francis Law, Judgment Day arrived Tuesday, when at age 86, he departed the splendid banishment of the Basilica di Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome.

Exactly where he now dwells in the afterlife — heaven, hell or purgatory — none of us can say. But among a sprawling community of victims, sexually abused in silence by priests who were quietly shuttled around various parishes in Boston for decades, Bernard Law most likely rests in a place of eternal torment, where he cannot take refuge behind lawyers or non-disclosure agreements.

As a prince of the church, you can’t say you didn’t know. Or I thought I was doing the right thing. Or we couldn’t have the whole archdiocese knowing about this stuff.

Bernard Law had a Harvard degree. God is certainly aware of that. It’s one thing to try to play Mickey The Dunce down here, as he managed to do for years. It’s quite another to try to play that card with the Almighty.

God is simply not going to buy that.

Bernard Law, a cardinal of scandal and disgrace

National Catholic Reporter

December 21, 2017

By Thomas Reese

Cardinal Bernard Law, who died Dec. 20 in Rome at age 86, began his priestly life as a journalist, but rose quickly up the ecclesiastical ladder only to come crashing down in scandal and disgrace. May God have mercy on his soul.

As editor of the Natchez-Jackson, Miss., diocesan newspaper in the 1960s, Fr. Law bravely supported the civil rights movement. He even had to hide in the trunk of a car when his life was threatened. He also spent time at the U.S. bishops’ conference in Washington, where as head of the office of ecumenism he worked on improving relations with Protestants and Jews.

As a result, by the time he became bishop of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in 1973, he had solid progressive credentials in both ecumenism and social justice. While in Missouri, he became friendly with the Bush family through George H.W. Bush’s brother, who had financial interests in the state.

In 1984, Law was promoted to archbishop of Boston, where he was the first archbishop to have attended Harvard University. His arrival was greeted with great hope.

He soon saw his role as a national and international leader. His connection to the Bush family proved invaluable and probably moderated his political views. He strongly supported the pro-life agenda of the pope and the American bishops, but not the consistent ethic of life espoused by Chicago Cardinal Joseph Bernardin.

Even so, Law was not afraid to use his influence to support the policies of the bishops’ conference. One staff person reports he was well-briefed and effective when meeting with Cabinet secretaries. His phone call was also put through to Air Force One to complain when the Reagan administration attempted to classify ketchup as a vegetable in school lunches.

As a loyal supporter of John Paul II, Law also played an active role in the church as a cardinal. The Vatican used him in communicating with the Bush White House, especially prior to the pope’s historic visit to Cuba. In return, the Vatican often followed his recommendations for episcopal appointments in the U.S.

Senior Vatican figure says at Law’s funeral, ‘Even cardinals make mistakes’


December 21, 2017

By John L. Allen Jr.

ROME - Before an unusually small congregation of mourners, albeit one that featured U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See Callista Gingrich and her husband, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, a funeral Mass for Cardinal Bernard Law was celebrated behind the main altar in St. Peter’s Basilica on Thursday afternoon.

Pope Francis took part in the ritual, not celebrating the Mass but offering final prayers at the end, reading the prescribed prayers for the final commendation of the deceased to God and the final valediction.

The Vatican’s foreign minister, British Archbishop Richard Paul Gallagher, was also on hand for the funeral Mass.

The main celebrant for the liturgy was Italian Cardinal Angelo Sodano, acting in his capacity as the Dean of the College of Cardinals. His role was controversial, given that like Law himself, Sodano has a checkered history when it comes to the child sexual abuse scandals within the Catholic Church.

For much of the late 20th century, Sodano was a patron of the late Mexican Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, founder of the Legion of Christ, whose pattern of sexual abuse and misconduct was eventually recognized by his own order following a Vatican investigation that Sodano had opposed.

In 2010, Sodano again stirred controversy when he suggested during an Easter homily that critics of Pope Benedict XVI’s handling of sexual abuse controversies were engaging in “petty gossip.”

Pope's role in disgraced cardinal's funeral draws outrage


December 21, 2017

By Laura Smith-Spark and Delia Gallagher

Pope Francis is expected to give the final blessing at the funeral Thursday of Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Boston archbishop who resigned in disgrace during the Catholic Church's sex-abuse scandal, prompting outrage from abuse survivors.

Francis' role in the ceremony, which got underway Thursday afternoon, has fueled the controversy over the decision to grant Law a full cardinal's funeral at St. Peter's Basilica in the Vatican.

Law, who died early Wednesday in Rome following a long illness, became a symbol of the sex-abuse scandal after a Boston Globe investigation revealed that he and other bishops had covered up child abuse by priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

The story was made into a celebrated movie, "Spotlight," and the scandal forced the Catholic Church to rethink the way it dealt with child abuse in the church.

It is protocol for the Pope to give the "final commendation," or blessing, at a cardinal's funeral when he dies in Rome, Vatican officials told CNN. Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, is presiding over the Mass.

The occasion is a funeral, not a tribunal nor a judgment of Law's life, the Vatican added. The Pope will give a commendation for the cardinal to be judged by God, officials said.

The Obituary Bernard Law Deserves

WBUR 90.9

December 21, 2017

By Eileen McNamara

He is being buried today from St. Peter’s, from the heart of the Vatican, on the darkest day of the year. His funeral is being broadcast live on the Vatican’s television network. Pope Francis himself will bless the remains of Cardinal Bernard Law, the prelate who facilitated and covered up the crimes of predatory priests across decades in the Archdiocese of Boston.

It was not enough that the misguided men of Rome provided Law safe haven at a Roman basilica for 15 years after the depth and breadth of his obstruction of justice was exposed. They have to honor the un-indicted co-conspirator in the sexual abuse of children with a saint’s send-off in the sacred seat of the Roman Catholic Church.

It astounds the imagination, even among those of us who thought all the pope’s men had long ago exhausted our capacity for outrage.

Let’s leave it to The New York Times and The Washington Post to refuse to speak too ill of the dead, to balance the ledger with an even-handed accounting of his good deeds and bad. In Boston, Law deserves an obituary as unvarnished as his rank ambition and craven evasion of responsibility.

First the disclaimers: He championed the cause of civil rights in Mississippi in the 1960s; his initiatives improved relations between Catholics and Jews from Missouri to Massachusetts; he embraced the Haitian, Hispanic and Southeast Asian immigrants who were fast replacing the Irish and Italians in the pews of Dorchester and Lowell and Lynn when he arrived in the Archdiocese of Boston in 1984. But it was less than a year later that Auxiliary Bishop John M. D’Arcy warned Law of the danger of his decision to transfer the Rev. John J. Geoghan, a serial child molester, from St. Brendan’s in Dorchester to St. Julia’s in Weston. Parishioners, D’Arcy wrote, would rightly “be convinced the Archdiocese has no concerns for their welfare and simply sends them priests with problems.” Law ignored D’Arcy and Geoghan resumed his sexual assaults on children.

"I only wish that the knowledge that we have today had been available to us earlier," Law wrote in 2001 in the Pilot when the extent of his complicity was beginning to emerge. That was a transparent lie, part of a pattern of deceit that would be Law’s undoing. In 1985, medical and legal experts had delivered a 92-page report to the National Conference of Catholic Bishops on sexually abusive priests; Law had urged that the independent study be undertaken.

How had he escaped accountability for so long? It is hard to remember now that Law was the darling of the ascendant conservative wing of the Catholic Church when he moved into the mansion on Lake Street in Brighton. When Pope John Paul II elevated the Harvard-educated archbishop to cardinal within a year, his long-shot ambition to become the first American pope seemed a credible dream to the moneyed swells with whom he mingled so effortlessly at his annual garden party.

Credit his arrogance for the overreach.

Bernard Law and the civil rights legacy he squandered by covering up clergy sex abuse

The Washington Post

December 20, 2017

By Amy B Wang

On March 13, 1964, a tiny diocesan newspaper edited by a young Catholic priest with no prior journalism experience laid out the case for racial desegregation in Mississippi.

The editorial in the Mississippi Register, headlined “Legal Segregation is Dying,” was stunning for its controversial position at the time, particularly in a racially charged state at the center of the American civil rights movement. Only months before, a prominent civil rights leader had been shot in the back and killed.

Funeral pomp for cardinal decried

Boston Herald

December 21, 2017

By Chris Cassidy, Marie Szanislo, Matt Stout

Pope to preside over final prayers for Law

Cardinal Bernard Law’s funeral today inside St. Peter’s Basilica — one of the holiest shrines in Catholicism — where Pope Francis will attend has enraged survivors of clergy sex abuse who say the disgraced cleric doesn’t deserve the high honor.

“One of the big things that bothers me is he’s going to have this huge funeral in the Vatican at St. Peter’s Basilica with all the pomp and circumstance. He doesn’t deserve it,” said Ann Hagan Webb, a priest abuse survivor and Wellesley psychologist who treats other victims. “Pope Francis should have the presence of mind to just give him a quiet funeral and not incite the retraumatizing of victims.”

Law’s death at the age of 86 reopened nightmarish memories of rampant, unchecked child molestation throughout the archdiocese by Catholic priests taking advantage of their pristine image and moral authority in the community to avoid accountability.

Law transferred pedophile priests from parish to parish, keeping them in contact with young children and their predatory crimes a secret.

“His death just brings back all of the pain and suffering he allowed to happen, and he was the cause of it,” said Robert Costello, 56, of Plainville, a priest abuse victim from the first through eighth grades. “There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t remember what happened to me. ... Bernie Law was a cruel, selfish bastard.”

Nonetheless, the Vatican plans the same customary funeral arrangements as any other cardinal living in Rome at his time of death.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, the dean of the College of Cardinals, will preside over the funeral Mass this morning, alongside other cardinals and bishops, according to the Catholic News Agency.

The pope will preside over the final prayers. Law will then be buried at Rome’s Basilica of St. Mary Major.



December 21, 2017

"What the #MeToo movement shows is the public is now willing to assign blame. They are naming names and part of that is naming the legislators who are not willing to pass these laws."

The death on Wednesday of Roman Catholic Cardinal Bernard Law, who covered up the church's child sex abuse scandal for decades, prompted US activists to reflect on how far their efforts have come to make sure abusers can be prosecuted and how many hurdles remain.

Thousands of people worldwide came forward to say they were child victims of priest abuse after the scandal broke in 2002. But many in the United States found that state laws protected their attackers from criminal prosecution or even civil lawsuits for crimes that were years or decades old.

That sparked a drive by advocates to reform statutes of limitations, reflecting research showing that many people sexually abused as children do not report the fact until well into adulthood. That effort has gained support from the #MeToo movement this year as millions of women have shared their stories of being sexually harassed or assaulted.

"Powerful institutions have protected abusers and kept them in place just as Cardinal Law did," New York state Senator Brad Hoylman, author of a bill that would eliminate the statue of limitations on reporting new child sex abuse and allow a one-year period to file civil suits over older allegations.

"It's taken us a long time to move on these issues but I think we're at a point of culmination where change could occur next year." US statutes of limitations for criminal and civil cases vary widely by state, making for a patchwork system determining victims' rights to seek redress in the courts.

This year eight states passed laws giving child sex abuse victims more time to legally confront their abusers, according to Child USA. Bills were introduced but not passed in four: New York, Pennsylvania, North Carolina and Washington state.

Pope prays for merciful final judgment for Cardinal Bernard Law

The Associated Press

December 21, 2017

Pope Francis prayed Thursday for a merciful final judgment for Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of the Catholic Church's failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

In a final blessing at Law's funeral Mass, Francis blessed his coffin with incense and holy water at the foot of the back altar of St. Peter's Basilica and recited the ritual prayer commending him to God.

"May he be given a merciful judgment so that redeemed from death, freed from punishment, reconciled to the Father, carried in the arms of the Good Shepherd, he may deserve to enter fully into everlasting happiness in the company of the eternal King together with all the saints."

How the Catholic Church’s hierarchy makes it difficult to punish sexual abusers

The Conversation

December 21, 2017

By Mathew Schmalz
Associate Professor of Religion, College of the Holy Cross

Cardinal Bernard Law died on Wednesday, Dec. 20, in Rome. Law was Archbishop of Boston, a position of prestige in the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. He had wide political connections, including with the Bush family. He publicly denounced Catholic politicians who supported abortion rights.

But this power and influence came to an end when The Boston Globe revealed how Cardinal Law had concealed sexual abuse committed by priests.

When Law was forced to resign in 2002, it did not mark the end of Catholicism’s struggle with sexual abuse in its ranks. Although reforms in the United States have made it mandatory for priests to report instances of sexual abuse, much work remains to be done in the Catholic Church worldwide.

From my perspective as a Catholic scholar of religion, one of the challenges in tackling this issue is the hierarchy of the church itself.

Pope to administer final rites at Cardinal Law funeral

The Associated Press

December 21, 2017

VATICAN CITY – Pope Francis is set to preside over the final rites in the funeral Mass for Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of the Catholic Church's failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

The dean of the college of cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, will celebrate Law's funeral Mass on Thursday behind the main altar of St. Peter's Basilica. Following the typical protocol, Francis is expected to preside over a final prayer, a blessing with incense and the sprinkling of holy water around Law's coffin.

U.S. Ambassador-designate Callista Gingrich and her husband, Newt, as well as some other members of the diplomatic corps were on hand in the pews, along with the Vatican foreign minister, Archbishop Paul Gallagher.

Turnout was otherwise limited, with the basilica ushers stacking extra rows of empty seats before the Mass began.

One of the opening prayers reads: "O God, who chose your servant Cardinal Bernard Law from among your priests and endowed him with pontifical dignity in the apostolic priesthood, grant, we pray, that he may also be admitted to their company forever."

Law, who died Wednesday at age 86, resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 after revelations that he covered up for dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, moving them to different parishes without telling parents or police.

The scandal, exposed by The Boston Globe and memorialized in the Oscar-winning film "Spotlight," then spread throughout the U.S. and world, with thousands of people from all continents coming forward in ensuing years with claims their priests sexually abused them when they were children.

From Cardinal Law to Harvey Weinstein, how ‘Spotlight’ scandal paved way for #MeToo movement [with video]

NBC News

December 21, 2017

By Corky Siemaszko

Before Harvey Weinstein, there was Cardinal Bernard Law.

While Law’s sin was covering up for pedophile priests in Boston, not allegedly assaulting actresses, his ouster some 15 years ago paved the way for today’s torrent of takedowns of powerful men like Weinstein who have been accused of sexual harassment and worse, experts said Wednesday.

“What happened with Law emboldened people to come forward. It made them realize they can challenge a powerful institution like the Catholic Church and that change can happen,” said Jennifer Drobac, an Indiana University law professor and an expert on sexual harassment in the workplace.

The downfall of Law, who died Wednesday at the Vatican, was “a cultural change and not just in the Catholic Church,” Drobac added.

“What happened has had a ripple effect on all kinds of other institutions in our country, and it has a ripple effect all over the world,” she said. “We don’t even know how wide the ripple effect will go.”

'We can't have business as usual': Ballarat Catholics push for change

ABC Ballarat

December 18, 2017

By Charlotte King

Catholics in the Victorian town of Ballarat — referred to as an epicentre of child sexual abuse — say the church must accept grassroots involvement from parishioners to enact changes recommended by the royal commission.

The Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse issued a damning report about the Ballarat Catholic Diocese earlier this month, describing its handling of clergy child sex abuse as a "catastrophic failure of leadership".

The Commission's final report, released on Friday, also called for sweeping reforms for the Catholic church including that bishops draw upon advice from lay people in relation to the admission of individuals to the priesthood.

In a statement, Pope Francis said the findings "deserve to be studied in depth" while the Archbishop of Melbourne, Denis Hart, said the church would seriously consider all of the royal commission's 189 new recommendations, but rejected calls for priests to be forced to break the seal of confessional.

The Ballarat Catholic Diocese said it was open to a recommendation that would see parish priests stripped of their power over schools.

Nearly 150 clergy sex abuse accusers to be deposed

Pacific Daily News

December 21, 2017

By Haidee V. Eugenio

Formal mediation to try to settle nearly 150 Guam clergy sex abuse cases won't start until June 2018 to allow for the deposition of each of the plaintiffs.

This will allow the local Catholic Church's insurance carrier, a subsidiary of AIG, to help evaluate claims for damages and liability, attorneys told the federal court Thursday.

Each of the plaintiffs will be deposed for up to four hours each. They will provide sworn statements to the parties' attorneys, said Seattle-based attorney Michael Patterson, co-counsel for the Archdiocese of Agana.

The archdiocese is a named defendant in all the clergy sex abuse cases filed in the U.S. District Court of Guam and the Superior Court of Guam.

Will priest ever return to face Scottish sex abuse trial?


December 21, 2017

By Mark Daly

Fears are growing that an Australian former monk accused of sexually abusing children at a Catholic boarding school in Scotland may never face trial.

Father Denis "Chrysostom" Alexander is in custody in Sydney and is contesting moves to extradite him back to Scotland, on the grounds of ill health.

The 81-year-old was among several monks accused in a BBC Scotland documentary in 2013 of sexual and physical abuse at the Fort Augustus Abbey school.

Fr Alexander denies the allegations.

Strong criticism

Meanwhile, the Crown Office, Scotland's criminal prosecution service, confirmed it was dropping five further Fort Augustus abuse cases which had lain "under consideration" for two and a half years.

It said the "passage of time presented particular challenges" in the investigations, especially around important witnesses who were either dead or not able to take part.

It said extradition proceedings with Australian authorities were under way in the case of Fr Alexander.

Special papal commission on sexual abuse ceases to exist

THE PULSE (via Catholic Culture)

December 20, 2017

By Phil Lawler

December 20, 2017 (Catholic Culture) – As of yesterday, the Pope’s special commission on sexual abuse formally ceased to exist.

The Commission for the Protection of Minors was established by Pope Francis in 2013, for a four-year term that began on December 17 of that year. That term has now officially expired.

Vatican-watchers fully expect that Pope Francis will extend the group’s mandate (or, at this point, renew it)—although nobody knows whether or not he will renew the terms of the current members. And the group wasn’t likely to hold meetings during the Christmas season anyway, so no real harm has been done by allowing the group’s formal authority to lapse.

Lawsuit: More of a Montana Catholic diocese's assets should be on the table for abuse victims

The Billings Gazette

December 21, 2017

By Clair Johnson

A Committee of Unsecured Creditors in the bankruptcy of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Great Falls-Billings is suing the church, alleging that more than $70 million in real property and other assets are part of the church’s estate and should be available for creditors and survivors of sex abuse by church officials.

The adversarial complaint, filed late Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court, said getting the disputed assets issue resolved “is critical” to the church’s estate because it will “determine the magnitude of distributions to its creditors, including survivors of the childhood sex abuse enabled by (the diocese) or whether (the diocese) can continue to avoid being held accountable to the survivors.”

Attorney James Stang, of Los Angeles, California, who represents the unsecured creditors committee, said on Wednesday the committee's goal is to reach a negotiated settlement and that the complaint is "part of the process."

The committee represents eight sex abuse survivors, Stang said.

After his fall, Law found normality in Rome


December 20, 2017

After resigning as archbishop of Boston in December 2002, Cardinal Bernard Law, who died in Rome early this morning, took refuge in a convent in Clinton, Maryland, owned by the Sisters of Mercy of Alma.

A year and a half later, in May 2004, he was appointed archpriest of St. Mary Major Basilica, one of the oldest and most important shrines in Rome, and settled into an influential, albeit quiet, role in the Vatican Curia.

Five years after Law’s resignation, NCR ran a profile of the cardinal detailing his life in the heart of the Vatican. The article ran under the headline: “After the fall: Law finds normality in an unremarkable role in Rome.”

Clergy sex abuse victims criticize Law's handling of issue [with video]


December 20, 2017

By Jennifer Crompton

Clergy sex abuse victims and advocacy groups are speaking out Wednesday after the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, who, as archbishop of Boston, shuffled pedophile priests from one parish to another without alerting parents or police.

December 20, 2017

Cardinal O’Malley statement on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law


December 20, 2017

By Cardinal Sean Patrick O'Malley

SPECIAL TO CRUX: Cardinal O’Malley statement on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law

[Editor’s note: Cardinal Bernard Law died Thursday morning in Rome at the age of 86. The following is a statement released by Cardinal Sean Patrick O’Malley, Law’s successor in Boston.]

Cardinal Bernard F. Law, my predecessor as Archbishop of Boston, has passed away at the age of 86 following a prolonged illness.

I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones. To those men and women, I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the Archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing.

As Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences. Since the day I arrived in the Archdiocese of Boston, my primary objective has been to work for healing and reconciliation among survivors, their families and the wider community of Catholics for whom the abuse crisis was a devastating experience and a great test of faith. In the midst of these groups that were most affected have stood priests and religious sisters of the Archdiocese who have tried to minister to any and all seeking assistance, even when they have been deeply challenged by the crisis that unfolded in the Church.

It is a sad reality that for many Cardinal Law’s life and ministry is identified with one overwhelming reality, the crisis of sexual abuse by priests. This fact carries a note of sadness because his pastoral legacy has many other dimensions. Early in his priesthood in Mississippi Cardinal Law was deeply engaged in the civil rights struggle in our country. Later, he served in the Archdiocese and nationally as a leader in the ecumenical and interfaith movement following the Second Vatican Council, developing strong collaborative relationships with the Greek Orthodox and Jewish communities in Boston. He was well known for visiting the sick, the dying and the bereaved at all hours of the night and day, a ministry that extended to the rich and poor, the young and elderly, and people of all faiths. He also held the care for immigrants and their families in a special place in his ministry.

In the Catholic tradition, the Mass of Christian Burial is the moment in which we all recognize our mortality, when we acknowledge that we all strive for holiness in a journey which can be marked by failures large and small. Cardinal Law will be buried in Rome where he completed his last assignment. I offer prayers for him and his loved ones as well as for all the people of the Archdiocese.

Cardinal Bernard Francis Law (1931-2017)

National Catholic Register

December 20, 2017

By Matthew E. Bunson

The cardinal, who played a major role in the promulgation of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, will be remembered more for his role in the clergy sex-abuse scandal.

ROME — Cardinal Bernard Law, whose time as archbishop of Boston from 1984 to 2002 ended in the scandal and cataclysm of the clergy sex-abuse crisis, died in Rome in the early morning of Dec. 20, after a long period of declining health and a brief hospitalization for heart problems. He was 86.

During much of his time as shepherd of the Archdiocese of Boston, Cardinal Law was one of the most prominent Catholic leaders in the United States and an influential member of the College of Cardinals. That ended in 2002, however, as a result of the clergy sexual-abuse scandal, and controversy followed him even as he departed Boston to become archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of Santa Maria Maggiore in Rome in May 2004.

Faced with multiple allegations that he had moved priests accused of child sexual abuse from one assignment to another, he resigned Dec. 13, 2002. It was one of the darkest moments in recent American Catholic life. In his resignation letter, Cardinal Law begged forgiveness from the victims of sexual abuse.

“It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity, which are so desperately needed,” wrote Cardinal Law. “To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes, I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness.”

Cardinal Law, central figure in church abuse scandal, dies

The Associated Press, Religion News Service

December 20, 2017

By Rachel Zoll

VATICAN CITY -- Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston whose failures to stop child molesters in the priesthood sparked what would become the worst crisis in American Catholicism, died early Wednesday, the Vatican said. He was 86.

Law had been sick and was recently hospitalized in Rome.

Law was once one of the most important leaders in the U.S. church. He broadly influenced Vatican appointments to American dioceses, helped set priorities for the nation's bishops and was favored by Pope John Paul II.

But in January 2002, The Boston Globe began a series of reports that used church records to reveal that Law had transferred abusive clergy among parish assignments for years without alerting parents or police. Within months, Catholics around the country demanded to know whether their bishops had done the same.

Law tried to manage the mushrooming scandal in his own archdiocese by first refusing to comment, then apologizing and promising reform. But thousands more church records were released describing new cases of how Law and others expressed more care for accused priests than for victims. Amid a groundswell against the cardinal, including rare public rebukes from some of his own priests, Law asked to resign and the pope said yes.

"It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed," Law said when he stepped down as head of the Boston archdiocese in December of that year. "To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes, I both apologize and from them beg forgiveness."

Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of church sex abuse scandal, dead at 86 [with video]


December 20, 2017

By Emanuella Grinberg

(CNN) Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Boston archbishop who resigned in disgrace during the Catholic Church's sex abuse scandal, has died, the Vatican confirmed. He was 86.

Law died in Rome, where he had served as archpriest of the Papal Liberian Basilica of St. Mary Major after he was forced to resign in 2002 as archbishop of Boston.

Law's name became emblematic of the scandal that continues to trouble the church and its followers around the globe after it was revealed that he and other bishops before him had covered for pedophile priests in the Boston Archdiocese.

Law at the time apologized during a news conference to victims of abuse by a priest, John Geoghan, who had been moved from parish to parish, despite Law's knowledge of his abuse of young boys. Law insisted Geoghan's abuse was in the past.

$5M bail set for priest accused of abusing North Dakota boys

Fargo (ND)
The Associated Press

December 20, 2017

FARGO, N.D. – A judge has set bail at $5 million cash for a Catholic priest accused of molesting two boys in North Dakota in the 1990s.

KFGO radio reports that Fernando Laude Sayasaya appeared in court on Tuesday via video from the Cass County Jail. He’s facing two counts of gross sexual imposition.

Sayasaya was recently returned to the United States from the Philippines, where he had been since 1998. A Philippines court ordered his extradition in 2010. He appealed, lost and was ultimately arrested last month.

Prosecutors allege that Sayasaya abused two underage siblings from 1995 to 1998, while he was assigned to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church and St. Mary’s Cathedral in the Fargo area.

They argued that Sayasaya was a flight risk. He didn’t oppose the bail amount.

San Jose: Presentation High failed to report alleged abuse, victims claim

The Mercury News

December 19, 2017

By Sharon Nogushi

Catholic school allegedly violated law by conducting own investigation into complaints

SAN JOSE — Over thee decades, Presentation High School administrators repeatedly violated state law and failed to report sexual abuse claims to police and the county’s child protection agency, according to allegations in two cases made public Tuesday.

In one case, an alleged victim’s mother said her daughter was sexually assaulted by an instructor in 2013-’14. Classmates reported to administrators the teacher’s troubling behavior — touching, sending multiple daily texts and sexual SnapChat photos — Dina Leonis said. The school, however, did not report the matter to police, she said.

“My daughter suffered extreme emotional distress,” said Leonis, who notified police.

The latest sexual abuse claims follow previous allegations by other alumnae, who contended they and classmates were groped and sexually victimized by a teacher in 1990 at the prestigious Catholic girls school. After those students came forward, the school placed two teachers on leave as it looked into two separate incidents, one of which they reported to police.

“All reports of sexual harassment that have come to Presentation High School have been handled properly by the school administration,” said Principal Mary Miller in a prepared statement. “Some of the other claims made today we are hearing for the first time.”

EDITORIAL: Letting abuse commission lapse, Vatican sends disappointing message

National Catholic Reporter

December 19, 2017

By NCR Editorial Staff

In December 2013, Pope Francis sparked hope that the Catholic Church was (finally!) taking the scandal of clergy sexual abuse seriously. He created a group to advise him and future popes on how the church worldwide could protect children, appointing experts on the issue and even survivors of abuse to a new Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

Now, as of this writing four years later, that commission has lapsed into an inactive state. Its members' terms of office, as set by the group's Vatican-approved statutes, expired Dec. 17. Neither the pope nor the Vatican have made known when or if the current members will be reappointed or new members found.

That Francis has allowed this lapse to occur is worrisome. A commission without validly appointed members ceases to be a commission; its members may carry on their work but if they do, they do so as individuals without legal standing or vested authority to back them. What work could they carry on? This never should have been allowed to happen.

That the Vatican felt no need to offer an official explanation is just as worrisome, because it suggests that the protection of children is not as high a priority as statements from the Vatican say it is. That decision makers in the Vatican apparently didn't realize — or didn't care — that this lapse would be perceived negatively is also troubling. A lack of an official response sends a tone-deaf and disappointing message to Catholics and the world. It points to the causal negligence at the heart of the scandal that has plagued the church for decades and demonstrates why the church can't shake allegations that its leaders "just don't get it."

We cannot forget that less than 10 months ago, Marie Collins, an original appointee and a survivor of clergy abuse, resigned from the commission out of frustration with an intransigent Vatican bureaucracy.

We've been told not to read too much into the vacant commission. It's just a bureaucratic snafu, we're told, and it will be corrected by April, when the commission's next plenary assembly is set. The office in the Curia meant to support the work of the commission will continue its work, we've been told. These statements, meant to be assurances, sound too much like hollow promises of the kind we're been programmed to hear from church officials when it comes to the abuse of minors by clergy.

Disgraced former archbishop Cardinal Bernard Law, who fled Boston after the sexual abuse scandal, dies at age 86 in Rome

Daily Mail/Associated Press

December 20, 2017

By Michelle Ganney

- Cardinal Bernard Law, former archbishop of Boston, dies at age 86 in Rome
- He was highest-ranking official in history of US church to leave office in disgrace
- It was revealed Law failed to remove sexually abusive priests from the ministry
- His actions and silence led to a sense of betrayal among many Boston Catholics
- The abuse extended over six decades harming 789 children involving 237 priests
- After the scandal Pope John Paul II appointed him archpriest of the Patriarchal Basilica of St. Mary Major, which is when he moved to Rome

Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston, died at the age of 86 in Rome on Tuesday.

Law, whose failures to stop child molesters in the priesthood sparked what would become the worst crisis in American Catholicism, had been sick and was recently hospitalized in Rome.

The official who confirmed the death was not authorized to make the announcement and asked to remain anonymous. The Vatican is expected to make a statement on Wednesday.

Law, who moved to Rome two years after resigning from his position in Boston due to the scandal, was once widely recognized as one of the most important leaders in the U.S. church.

Law, cardinal in abuse scandal, dead (3)

Redazione ANSA

December 20, 2017

Pope condolences, will attend funeral

(ANSA) - Vatican City, December 20 - Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston at the centre of a child-sex-abuse scandal in the American city, has died at the age of 86, sources said Wednesday. Law, who had recently been taken into hospital in Rome, was forced to quit as the archbishop of Boston in 2002 after it emerged he had failed to stop priests who sexually abused children, moving them from parish to parish without informing the authorities.

He was controversially brought to Rome by the Catholic Church to run the Basilica of Saint Mary Major from 2004 to 2011.

The scandal was brought to light by the Boston Globe's Pulitzer-prize-winning Spotlight investigation, made into an Oscar-winning film in 2015.

Pope Francis voiced his condolences for Law, saying "may God welcome him in peace".

The pope will attend Law's funeral in St Peter's Basilica on Thursday.

Key events in the life of Cardinal Bernard Law

The Associated Press

December 20, 2017

Key dates in the life of Cardinal Bernard Law, who died early Wednesday at age 86.

— Nov. 4, 1931: Bernard Law is born in Torreon, Mexico; the only child of a U.S. Air Force colonel and a mother who converted to Roman Catholicism from Presbyterianism.

— 1953: Law graduates from Harvard University with a degree in medieval history.

— 1961: Law is ordained as a priest.

— 1968: Law takes a job at the ecumenical office of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

— 1973: Law is named bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri.

Cardinal Law, symbol of Church's sex abuse scandal, has died at 86

SKY News

December 20, 2017

US Cardinal Bernard Law was widely blamed for failing to stop child molesters in the priesthood during his tenure in Boston.

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who became a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church's sexual abuse scandals, has died at 86.

Cardinal Law died in a hospital in Rome, where he had been living.

The Vatican did not give a cause as it announced his death, but the Cardinal was believed to have been suffering from complications of diabetes and liver failure, among other ailments.

Cardinal Law was archbishop of Boston, one of the most prestigious and wealthy American archdioceses, for 18 years.

The late Pope John Paul reluctantly accepted his resignation in 2002 after the Catholic Church was rocked by worldwide sex abuse revelations.

The scandal was uncovered by the Boston Globe's Spotlight team, which showed how priests who sexually abused children had been moved from parish to parish for years rather than being sacked or reported to the authorities.

Cardinal Law was widely blamed for allowing that to happen.

The report soon began a trickle-down effect around the world, as the cover-up techniques used in Boston were discovered to have been used in country after country.

"It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed," Cardinal Law said upon resigning.

"To all those who have suffered from my shortcomings and mistakes, I both apologise and from them beg forgiveness."

Still, he retained support in the Vatican. In 2004, a year before John Paul's death, he was appointed archpriest of the Basilica of St Mary Major, one of four principal basilicas in the Italian capital.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston lawyer who has represented victims of the sex abuse scandal, said the Cardinal's death had reopened old wounds.

Pope ignores abuse scandal in condolences for US cardinal

Agence France-Presse

December 20, 2017

Pope Francis paid his respects to the late US Cardinal Bernard Law on Wednesday, without mentioning the sex abuse scandal that forced the once-influential church figure to resign, an omission bound to rile victim associations.

"I raise prayers for the repose of his soul," Francis said in a telegram after Law, 86, died in Rome.

The former Boston cardinal had fallen from grace after he allegedly shielded priests involved in a wide-reaching sex abuse scandal that shook the Roman Catholic Church and eclipsed his long and at one-time venerated career.

It is traditional for the pope to issue a message of condolence and prayer after the death of the red-hatted church seniors.

But the telegram made no reference to the paedophilia scandal, and neither did the official biography issued by the Vatican.

The biography merely said that Law, who was appointed Archbishop of Boston by John Paul II in 1984 became "Archbishop emeritus of Boston, 13 December 2002".

Pope sends condolences for the death of Cardinal Bernard Law

Associated Press

December 20, 2017

Pope Francis sent a telegram of condolences Wednesday to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, for the death of Cardinal Bernard Law and said he is praying for his soul.

The letter made no mention of Law's role as the former archbishop of Boston, where he was responsible for covering up for sexually abusive priests in a scandal that erupted across the nation and eventually cost the American church some $3 billion in legal fees.

Rather, Francis' telegram referred to Law's final position as archpriest of the St Mary Major basilica in Rome.

In it Francis said: “I raise prayers for the repose of his soul, that the Lord, God who is rich in mercy, may welcome him in His eternal peace, and I send my apostolic blessing to those who share in mourning the passing of the cardinal.''

An advocacy group for survivors of sex abuse called for Pope Francis to keep survivors in mind when he celebrates Cardinal Bernard Law's funeral Mass.

SNAP, which gained prominence as the US abuse scandal erupted in Law's Boston in 2002, said no victim of sexual abuse will ever receive the same attention and pomp that Law received in life and is due to receive in death.

Cardinal Bernard Law, Boston Archbishop Who Was Forced To Resign Over Clergy Sex Abuse Scandal, Dead At 86


December 20, 2017

Prior to his resignation, Law spent two decades as one of the highest-ranking Catholic officials in the United States.

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) - Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who became a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church’s worldwide sexual abuse scandals, died on Wednesday, the Vatican said. He was 86.

Law, whose resignation from his Boston post in 2002 shocked the Church and brought abuse into the open, had been living in Rome and was in declining health in recent years.

The Vatican did not give a cause of death but sources close to Law, who died in a hospital in Rome, said he had been suffering from the complications of diabetes, liver failure and a build-up of fluids around the heart, known as pericardial effusion.

Church Sex Abuse Survivor On Law Death: ‘Gates Of Hell Swinging Wide’


December 20, 2017

BOSTON (CBS/AP) — The death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston whose failures to stop child molesters in the priesthood sparked what would become the worst crisis in American Catholicism, has drawn little sympathy from survivors.

Since 1950, more than 6,500, or about 6 percent of U.S. priests, have been accused of molesting children, and the American church has paid more than $3 billion in settlements to victims, according to studies commissioned by the U.S. bishops and media reports. As the leader of the archdiocese at the epicenter for the scandal, Law remained throughout his life a symbol of the church’s widespread failures to protect children.

Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who has represented dozens of people who say they were sexually abused by priests, said Law’s death has reopened old wounds.

Bernard Law, former Archbishop of Boston, dies at age 86 [with video]


December 20, 2017

Bernard Law, the former Archbishop of Boston who resigned in disgrace during the clergy sex abuse scandal, has died at age 86 in Rome.

The Vatican released a brief statement Tuesday night confirming his death: “Cardinal Bernard Law died early this morning after a long illness.”

Boston Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley released a statement on the death of his predecessor Wednesday morning.

“I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones. To those men and women, I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the Archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing,” Cardinal Seán P. O'Malley said in a statement. “As Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences.”

In a statement, Pope Francis expressed condolences to the College of Cardinals, adding may God "who is rich in mercy" welcome Law in his eternal peace.

“I raise prayers for the repose of his soul, that the Lord, God who is rich in mercy, may welcome him in his Eternal peace, and I send my apostolic blessing to those who share in mourning the passing of the cardinal,” his statement read in part.

The Latest: Francis sends condolences over Law's death

The Associated Press

December 20, 2017

The Latest on the death of Cardinal Bernard Law, the disgraced former archbishop of Boston who was a central figure in the clergy sex abuse scandal. (all times local):

3:05 p.m.

Pope Francis is sending his condolences for the death of Cardinal Bernard Law and says he is praying for his soul.

Francis sent a telegram of condolences Wednesday to the dean of the College of Cardinals, Cardinal Angelo Sodano. The letter makes no mention of Law's role as the former archbishop of Boston, where he was responsible for covering up for sexually abusive priests in a scandal that erupted across the nation and eventually cost the American church some $3 billion in legal fees.

Cardinal Law, Former Archbishop Of Boston At Center Of Sex Abuse Scandal, Dies In Rome At 86


December 20, 2017

By Tovia Smith

Once considered among the most influential prelates in America, the Archbishop was forced to resign amid the church’s growing sex abuse scandal, which indelibly stained his reputation

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former Archbishop of Boston — once widely seen as America’s most influential prelate before resigning in disgrace amid the growing clergy sexual abuse scandal — has died in Rome.

The Holy See’s press office confirmed Law’s death “after a long illness.” He was 86.

In a carefully worded statement, reflecting the ongoing anger at the longtime prelate for his role helping to cover up the sins of pedophile priests, his successor, Cardinal Sean P. O’Malley said, “I recognize that Cardinal Law’s passing brings forth a wide range of emotions …particularly … all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy.” He offered “sincere apologies [and] continued prayers and … support.”

O’Malley went on to say, “It is a sad reality that for many, Cardinal Law’s life and ministry is identified with one overwhelming reality, the crisis of sexual abuse by priests … because his pastoral legacy has many other dimensions,” from civil rights and ecumenical work, to his care for the poor and immigrants.

The Vatican today also released a statement expressing condolences, praying “for the repose of his soul,” but making no mention of the clergy’s sexual abuse scandal.

Law was at ground zero of the crisis when it exploded in Boston in 2002. He remained the face of the scandal, as it swelled to the tsunami that engulfed the Catholic Church worldwide.

Law’s response to the growing crisis only fueled the rage. For example, shortly after the scandal broke, he showed little compunction, issuing a carefully worded, Nixonian concession.

Cardinal Bernard Law Dies: His Passing ‘Reopened Old Wounds’ For Alleged Boston Clergy Sex Abuse Victims


December 20, 2017

By Lorenzo Tanos

Law, who earned controversy in 2002 for his alleged mishandling of sexual abuse allegations against Boston-area priests, died in Rome on Wednesday at the age of 86.

Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who allegedly turned a blind eye to decades of child molestation accusations against his archdiocese’s priests, died early Wednesday morning in Rome. He was 86.

As of this writing, Cardinal Bernard Law’s cause of death has yet to be announced, but a report from the Associated Press indicated that the disgraced former archbishop was recently hospitalized, and had been feeling sick in the time leading up to his death. According to the Guardian, Pope Francis has yet to comment on Law’s passing, but will likely be sending an official telegram of condolence on Wednesday, and celebrating his funeral mass, as is the tradition with Rome-based cardinals.

Born in Torreon, Mexico on November 4, 1931, Bernard Francis Law graduated from Harvard University in 1953, and was ordained as a priest in 1961. As a young priest, Law was active in the fight for civil rights in the 1960s, before he spent some time with the national bishops’ conference. Following a stint as bishop of the Diocese of Springfield-Cape Girardeau in Missouri, Law was named archbishop of Boston in 1984, and was known for making public comments against government officials who favored abortion rights. Per the Guardian, he was also “beloved” by Pope John Paul II, who served as the head of the Catholic Church until his death in 2005.

Cardinal Bernard Law, symbol of Church's sexual abuse crisis, dies


December 20, 2017

By Philip Pullella

Cardinal Bernard Law, a once-influential church figure, who became a symbol of the Roman Catholic Church's worldwide sexual abuse scandals after failing to stop pedophile priests, has died, the Vatican said Wednesday. He was 86.

Law, whose resignation from his Boston post in 2002 shocked the Church and brought abuse into the open, had been living in Rome and was in declining health in recent years.

The Vatican did not give a cause of death but sources close to Law, who died in a hospital in Rome, said he had been suffering from the complications of diabetes, liver failure and a build up of fluids around the heart, known as pericardial effusion.

Law was archbishop of Boston for 18 years when Pope John Paul - who in 1984 had appointed Law to run one of the most prestigious and wealthy American archdioceses — reluctantly accepted his resignation on Dec. 13, 2002, after a tumultuous year in Church history.

A succession of devastating stories by the Boston Globe's Spotlight team showed how priests who sexually abused children had been moved from parish to parish for years under Law's tenure without informing parishioners or law authorities.

The resignation sent shock waves through the American Church and began a trickle down effect around the world, as the cover-up techniques used in Boston were discovered to have been used in country after country.

Cardinal Bernard Law, formerly of Boston, dies at age 86

Catholic News Agency

December 19, 2017

Cardinal Bernard Law has died after a brief hospitalization due to congenital heart failure, according to sources close to the cardinal and a report from the Boston Globe. He was 86 years old.

Law was appointed Archbishop of Boston in 1984, and resigned from the position on Dec. 13, 2002, after reports revealed that he did not disclose multiple allegations of clerical sexual abuse to the police or to the public, or intervene to remove priests accused of sexual abuse from priestly ministry.

“It is my fervent prayer that this action may help the Archdiocese of Boston to experience the healing, reconciliation and unity which are so desperately needed," Law wrote at the time of his resignation.

After his resignation, Law moved to Rome. He was assigned as the Archpriest of the Basilica of Saint Mary Major in 2004 by Pope John Paul II, a largely ceremonial position from which he retired in 2011, at the age of 80. The appointment was controversial, especially as many in the US continued to call for his criminal prosecution.

Law was born on November 4, 1931 in Torreon, Mexico, the son of a Catholic father, an Air Force colonel, and a Presbyterian mother.

Cardinal Law’s death prompts apologies – and anger

Religion News Service

December 20, 2017

By Cathy Lynn Grossman

(RNS) — When a leading cardinal in the Catholic church dies, his legacy of caring for priests and believers are usually the highlights of remembrances.

Not so with Cardinal Bernard Law, driven out in disgrace as Archbishop of Boston in 2002. His priests and his people had demanded he step down after a year of painful revelations that the diocese had known about — and sheltered — scores of priests who sexually abused children and teens.

After Law died Wednesday (Dec. 20), his successor, Cardinal Sean O’Malley, issued a statement that began with an apology to “ … all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones.”

O’Malley offered them his “sincere apologies,” and continued prayer and support for healing, before turning again to the tragic legacy of Law, putting him in the context of a wider church failure.

“As Archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the Church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities. I deeply regret that reality and its consequences….”

Cardinal Daniel DiNardo, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, went directly to the same point, beginning his statement by urging any victim today to contact both their church and their local law enforcement.

Bernard Law, The Vatican’s Face of Evil, Is Dead but the Pain Lives On

Daily Beast

December 20, 2017

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

Bernard Law, the American cardinal who became of the face of the Catholic clerical abuse scandal in America, is dead at the age of 86, but his cover-up legacy lives on.

ROME—Cardinal Bernard Law, the former archbishop of Boston who resigned in shame at the height of the American clerical sex-abuse scandal in 2002, who died early Wednesday morning in a Roman hospital, never rose above the disgrace that brought him down—at least not outside the Vatican’s protective walls.

He was sent to Rome in 2004 by Pope John Paul II, and, despite making a public apology for his failings and culpability in the cover up of rampant clerical sex abuse against children, he remained active in policy-making dicastery departments of the Holy See. He was allowed to resign honorably from those duties in 2011 when he turned 80, the official age all cardinals cease such roles.

He seemed to escape any scrutiny or punishment by the church for his well-known crimes, and instead remained part of the Vatican elite under John Paul II, Pope Benedict XVI and Pope Francis, enjoying celebrity status that is akin to a clerical club membership bestowed on all top cardinals in Rome. He was often spotted dining with high-ranking cardinals at Rome’s better restaurants.

Law, whose sins were laid bare in the Oscar winning film Spotlight, was also the frequent object of protesters who picketed and left posters with the faces of the many victims of sex abuse by predatory priests in front of the majestic Saint Mary Major basilica in Rome, where he has served as the chief priest. Much as devout Catholics make a Vatican stop part of any trip to Rome, victims of clerical sex abuse paid similar homage to the basilica where Law preached.

Update: Cardinal Law, whose legacy was marred by sex abuse scandal, dies

Catholic News Service

December 20, 2017

VATICAN CITY (CNS) -- Cardinal Bernard F. Law, who had been one of the United States' most powerful and respected bishops until his legacy was blemished by the devastating sexual abuse of minors by priests in his Archdiocese of Boston, died early Dec. 20 in Rome at the age of 86.

Before the abuse scandal forced his resignation in 2002, Cardinal Law had been a leading church spokesman on issues ranging from civil rights to international justice, from abortion to poverty, from Catholic-Jewish relations and ecumenism to war and peace.

Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston said in a statement Dec. 20, "As archbishop of Boston, Cardinal Law served at a time when the church failed seriously in its responsibilities to provide pastoral care for her people, and with tragic outcomes failed to care for the children of our parish communities."

Cardinal O'Malley also recognized that his predecessor's death "brings forth a wide range of emotions on the part of many people. I am particularly cognizant of all who experienced the trauma of sexual abuse by clergy, whose lives were so seriously impacted by those crimes, and their families and loved ones. To those men and women, I offer my sincere apologies for the harm they suffered, my continued prayers and my promise that the archdiocese will support them in their effort to achieve healing."

Cardinal O'Malley said Cardinal Law would be buried in Rome, where he had his last assignment. According to the Vatican, his funeral Mass was to be celebrated the afternoon of Dec. 21 in St. Peter's Basilica with Cardinal Angelo Sodano, dean of the College of Cardinals, presiding. Pope Francis, as is customary for cardinals' funerals, was to preside over the final rites at the end of Mass.

December 19, 2017

OPINION: Secret court settlements are a scourge on society

Twin Cities Pioneer Press

December 18, 2017

By David A. Dana And Susan P. Koniak

Our courts and our legislators are guilty. Over the past few weeks, we have seen how our legal system has empowered and encouraged sexual predators to continue abusing women through secret settlements and nondisclosure agreements, despite knowing how dangerous silence can be.

Now is different, we’re told. A “cultural moment.” Laws will be reformed. Courts will change their rules. Lawyers, corporations, the American Bar Association and think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation will do a 180 and end their hawking of secrecy.

And pigs will fly.

It has been 15 years since we learned how court-sanctioned secrecy and nondisclosure agreements protected pedophile priests, allowing them to continue abuse that included the rape of children. And our courts and legislatures, with a precious few exceptions, have done nothing to stop the legally sanctioned secrecy that protected those priests from exposure and prevented parents from keeping their children safe.

More recently, the public has turned its outrage to an obscure congressional fund used to secretly settle sexual harassment claims against lawmakers with taxpayer money. If Congress is going to use taxpayer money for these complaints, the public has a right to know.

But Congress is not alone.

Some local and state government agencies also use taxpayer funds to secretly settle in cases of police brutality and other serious wrongs, leaving the public in the dark on the facts.

Colpi di scena al processo dell’ex prete di Rozzano accusato di pedofilia In evidenza

Pocket News

December 18, 2017

[Google Tranlsate: Do not miss the twists in the trial against Don Mauro Galli, the former priest of Rozzano and Legnano accused of pedophilia for alleged abuses on a boy, who is celebrating at the Court of Milan. There are two innovations that emerge from the trial. The first concerns the family of the victim who would have withdrawn the civil partnership. The reason? One hundred thousand euros would be credited as compensation. The problem is that it is still not clear who has paid them.]

La Diocesi accusata di “omessa vigilanza” e intanto nei giorni scorsi alla famiglia sono stati versati 100mila euro perché ritiri la costituzione di parte civile

Non mancano i colpi di scena nel processo a carico di don Mauro Galli, l’ex prete di Rozzano e Legnano accusato di pedofilia per presunti abusi su un ragazzino, che si sta celebrando al Tribunale di Milano. Sono due le novità che emergono dal dibattimento. La prima riguarda la famiglia della vittima che avrebbe ritirato la costituzione di parte civile. Il motivo? Le sarebbero stati accreditati centomila euro come risarcimento. Il problema è che non è ancora chiaro chi li abbia versati.

Il silenzio

La seconda novità riguarda la diocesi milanese. Dalle carte raccolte dagli investigatori e consegnate ai giudici, emergerebbe il coinvolgimento di Mario Del Pini e Pierantonio Tremolada, arcivescovi di Milano e di Brescia. Secondo l’accusa, entrambi sapevano quel che combinava Mauro Galli ma tutti e due prima hanno taciuto, poi hanno permesso che il prete pedofilo continuasse la sua attività a contatto con i bambini.

Australian Gov't Recommends Making Celibacy Optional for Catholic Priests to Protect Children

Newburgh Gazette

December 19, 2017

By Dwayne Harmon

A Catholic priest in Queensland has told his congregation the church is a flawed institution, and Australian archbishops must fight for change to stop sexual abuse.

Of survivors who reported abuse in religious institutions, more than 60% cited the Catholic church, which demonstrated "catastrophic failures of leadership", particularly before the 1990s, the report said.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart, the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference president, said the bishops would take the royal commission's recommendations seriously and present them to the Holy See.

It said priests should report abuse confided to them, even in the secret context of the confessional.

"I revere the law of the land and I trust it but this is a sacred, spiritual charge before God which I must honor and I have to respect and try to do what I can do with both", Hart said.

"I would feel terribly conflicted and I would try even harder to get that person outside confessional, but I can not break the seal", Hart told reporters.

Archbishop Fisher, like most of the Australian bishops who testified to the commission, said in a December 15 statement he was "appalled by the sinful and criminal activity of some clergy, religious and lay church workers (and) I'm ashamed of the failure to respond by some church leaders, and ... We know very well that this happens in families that are certainly not observing celibacy", he said.

On the call for voluntary celibacy, he said it was up to the Vatican to decide.

He further noted that the celibacy recommendations would be relayed to the Vatican, but added that "I believe that there are real values in celibacy". "But it's a hard thing", Archbishop Hart said.

Editorial: Church fate

The Saturday Paper

December 16, 2017

When the royal commission sat for the final time, the church was not there. Senior figures were not present. It fell to a layperson to attend, to Francis Sullivan, whose self-critical stewardship of the Catholic Church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council has been the only redemption of an institution built on the preaching of forgiveness.

“I think it would have been a real sign of solidarity with the victims if we’d had some members of the hierarchy and senior figures from the church here,” Sullivan said afterwards. “One can only assume they didn’t feel comfortable coming here.”

The absence is terrible and unsurprising. The recurrent theme in five years of testimony at this commission has been abandonment. It is an abandonment of children and of responsibility.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse investigated more than 4000 institutions. There were tens of thousands of victims. The 21-volume report from the commission was delivered to the governor-general on Friday.

The commission’s chair, Justice Peter McClellan, confirmed the greatest number of abusers were hidden in Catholic institutions. This surprised no one. In hearing after hearing, an image emerged of an organisation that not only housed but enabled abuse. Paedophiles were shielded. Victims were disbelieved. Elaborate legal structures were built to deny rights.

When the commission was announced, George Pell’s mind was fevered with conspiracy. He fumed and preened and blamed the press for a “persistent campaign” against the Catholic Church. He insisted Catholics were not the “only cab on the rank”. Later, on the stand, he compared the church’s culpability to a trucking company whose driver “picks up some lady and then molests her”.

The commission’s final report is an extraordinary document, extraordinary for the fact it exists. A redress scheme must now be set up. The thousands of lives hurt by institutional deviancy must not be left without repair. Other changes must be made and are among the recommendations.

But there is one larger change that must also take place. It is not called for in the official documents, but it is urgent and necessary. The church must no longer be allowed to interfere with public life.

Jon Styler: £140,000 payouts to alleged abuse victims

BBC News

December 18, 2017

By Jordan Davies

Eight men allegedly abused by a head teacher thought to be one of Wales' most prolific paedophiles have received £140,000 in settlements.

Jon Styler is said to have abused boys in schools in Newport and Worcestershire in the 1970s and 1980s.

He killed himself in Newport in 2007, having strongly denied the allegations.

Newport council has agreed out-of-court settlements with the men, with no admission of liability, but said it could not comment further.

A spokesman said: "However, we would like to stress that the allegations in relation to Mr Styler are historical and there are no links between the schools where he taught many decades ago and those schools today."

Solicitors believe Mr Styler may be one of Wales' most-prolific sex offenders, with more than 100 victims.

Newport council inherited liability from the old Gwent County Council, which employed Mr Styler when he worked in Wales.

Former Fargo Priest’s Arraignment on Child Sex Abuse Charges Delayed


December 18, 2017

By TJ Nelson


FARGO, ND — An arraignment for a former Fargo priest who has been extradited from the Philippines to stand trial on child sexual abuse charges has been delayed.

Fernando Sayasaya was set to appear in Cass County District Court today but the hearing was moved at the last minute to Tuesday.

Sayasaya was removed from the Fargo Diocese in August 1998 after two brothers accused him of sexually assaulting them.

The priest was an associate pastor at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo and Blessed Sacrament in West Fargo.

He fled to the Philippines around Christmas of 1998.

Bishop vows paedophile priest won't return

SBS News

December 18, 2017

A Bishop has vowed an elderly priest who was released from a NSW prison after being convicted of abusing young girls won't return to his parish.

The Bishop of Broken Bay has promised his community that a paedophile priest released from a NSW prison won't be allowed to return to his former parish.

Catholic priest Finian Egan was released from Long Bay Prison on Tuesday morning after serving four years of an eight-year sentence for raping and abusing young girls for nearly three decades.

Coinciding with his release, the Diocese of Broken Bay has begun the process of laicisation, more commonly known as "defrocking", by presenting its case to Rome to have the 83-year-old stripped of his priesthood.

If successful, Egan will no longer be regarded as a priest and the church will no longer be responsible for him.

"These processes can be complex given that the one Roman office deals with all requests that are submitted from all over the world," the Bishop of Broken Bay the Most Reverend Peter Comensoli explained in a statement on Tuesday.

While Egan has the right to argue his case, the bishop has already used his power to immediately dismiss him from the public ministry.

Priest convicted of abusing boys in 1970s could soon be released on parole


December 18, 2017

By Katrina Helmer

FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A parole board held a victim impact hearing Monday afternoon in the case of Fr. Joseph Hemmerle, who was convicted of abusing a 10-year-old boy in 1973.

Michael Norris testified in November 2016 that Hemmerle sexually abused him more than 40 years ago when he was a camper at Camp Tall Trees. Hemmerle worked at the Catholic-run youth camp in Meade County. Norris said he got poison ivy, and when Hemmerle offered to treat it, the priest sexually abused him.

“Mr. Hemmerle’s act took about 15 minutes,” Norris said to the board. “For his 15 minutes of pleasure, I’ve endured 44 years of heartache. And I will be coping with this for the rest of my life.”

In February, a judge sentenced Hemmerle to seven years in prison for “indecent or immoral practices with a minor.”

Then in June 2017, Hemmerle pleaded guilty to sexual abuse charges brought forward by another victim. A judge sentenced Hemmerle to another two years in prison on top of the existing seven.

After about 10 months in prison, Hemmerle is up for parole. A parole board must consider his sentence, the details of the case, his inmate history and a victim impact hearing.

Norris also expressed concern Hemmerle would continue to abuse children if the board decided to release Hemmerle on parole.

“He hasn’t come to terms with what he is: a pedophile,” Norris told the board members. “And as far as I’m concerned, he needs to stay where he’s at, where he can’t hurt other children.”

Norris said the jury was under the impression Hemmerle would serve at least 18 months in prison before being considered eligible for parole.

Pope Francis will extend the commission for the protection of children for 3 more years

America Magazine

December 15, 2017

By Gerard O’Connell

Pope Francis will renew the mandate of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors for another three years, informed sources told America this week. Its membership, however, will not be announced until the New Year. While many of its current members will be renewed for a second three-year term, others will be replaced.

The news, which is expected to be announced in the coming days, comes after Francis met the full commission in a private audience in the Vatican on Sept. 21. He indicated then that he wished the P.C.P.M. to continue its work, or as he put it, “to continue to be of great assistance in the coming years to the pope, the Holy See, bishops and major superiors throughout the world.”

Judge tosses clergy sex abuse lawsuit in Blair County, citing limitations statute

Tribune Review

December 18, 2017

By Stephen Huba

The attorney for a Blair County woman who sued a Catholic priest is considering an appeal now that a judge has thrown out the lawsuit.

Blair County Common Pleas Judge Jolene Kopriva, whose term expires at the end of the year, said Renee Rice's civil suit was filed after the statute of limitations had expired.

“I intend to review with my client her right to appeal Judge Kopriva's opinion,” Altoona attorney Richard Serbin said in a statement.

Rice and her sister, Cheryl Haun, sued the Rev. Charles Bodziak last year over allegations that he fondled them in the 1970s, when they were ages 7 and 9. At the time, he was serving at St. Leo's Catholic Church in Altoona.

The sisters also sued the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, which was the subject of an investigation by the Pennsylvania attorney general over allegations of clergy sexual abuse spanning decades. A special grand jury released a 147-page report in March 2016 detailing the alleged abuse of hundreds of minors by more than 50 priests in the eight-county diocese.

The lawsuit alleged counts of fraud, constructive fraud and conspiracy against retired Bishop Joseph Adamec and the estate of Bishop James Hogan.

Church is flawed: Queensland priest to followers

Brisbane Times (AAP)

December 18, 2017

A Catholic priest in Queensland has told his congregation the church is a flawed institution, and Australian archbishops must fight for change to stop sexual abuse.

Father Peter Schultz used his homily on Sunday to personally apologise to anyone who'd suffered abuse, which he said was the fault of the church hierarchy.

"We are a flawed institution and we have to own that fact," he told followers at St Thomas More's Church in South Toowoomba, just a few days after the royal commission into institutional abuse handed down its final report.

Lay lead the way in child abuse lament

Eureka Street

December 18, 2017

By Helena Kadmos

A small group of lay Christians in Perth, including myself, were so worried that our institutions might not wholeheartedly embrace the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse that we decided not to wait to find out.

On Saturday 9 December, ahead of the full release of the commission's findings, 130 people accepted our invitation to gather on the banks of the Swan River to express our gratitude to the commissioners, survivors and their families.

Day of Lament was an ecumenical picnic and liturgy organised without any clerical input by lay people of different church backgrounds, including Catholic, Anglican and Uniting, the Salvation Army and an Independent Community Church. Our group comprised teachers, a pastoral practitioner, psychologist and community worker. We sought input and feedback from survivors and organisations representing survivors.

Planned over several months, Day of Lament grew out of a determination to express unequivocal support for authentic justice for survivors, at whatever cost. Lay people might not hold the purse strings of our churches but we are the living hands and feet that comprise it. Through our physical presence in a public space we aimed to make a stand that was five-fold: to lament the silence surrounding child abuse in our institutions, acknowledge the pain suffered, say sorry, pray for healing, and commit to justice.

We accepted that we could not hope to grasp the full complexity of the impacts of child sexual abuse on everyone affected by it, and therefore we made no claims to represent anyone other than ourselves. But our invitation was open to people of the same, different or no faith backgrounds: If you felt as we did, you were welcome to join us.

Australia’s Royal Commission issues final report on child sexual abuse

Catholic News Service

December 18, 2017

MELBOURNE, Australia (CNS) — After five years of hearings, nearly 26,000 emails, and more than 42,000 phone calls from concerned Australians, the Royal Commission Into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its 17-volume final report Dec. 15.

Among its 400 recommendations, 20 were aimed specifically at the Catholic Church, whose leaders spent three weeks in February testifying at a “Catholic wrapup.”

Several of the recommendations related to the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference working with the Holy See to change the Code of Canon Law “to create a new canon or series of canons specifically relating to child sexual abuse.”

One recommendation was for the Australian bishops to work with the Holy See to determine if the absolute secrecy concerning matters discussed during confession also applies to a child confessing he or she has been abused sexually. The report also said the church should consider if “absolution can and should be withheld” if a person confesses to perpetrating child sexual abuse.

Catholic priest denies report suggesting celibacy leads to pedophilia


December 18, 2017

PELHAM, New York -- A shocking report out of Australia suggests ending mandatory celibacy for Catholic priests could help protect children from sexual abuse.

The study claims tens of thousands of children in Catholic churches, schools, orphanages and sports clubs have endured sexual abuse over the recent decades, and draws a connection between celibacy and pedophilia.

Father Edward Beck, a commentator on religion and the Catholic church, argues the report's findings are "nonsensical."

"We're seeing in this country right now, issues of pedophilia, especially with bold-name faces, right? Celebrities, who are married. You are certainly not celibate and they are pedophiles," Beck said. "So celibacy does not cause pedophilia."

Beck argues pedophilia occurs often in families, between brothers and fathers, not celibate people.

"This is a disease," Beck said. "Now, certainly, you have instances of it with people who are celibate. But there's not a cause and effect there, so to say, 'If we get away from celibacy, that we'll no longer have pedophilia,' that's just a non sequitur. It doesn't follow."

Dutch Catholic church sexual abuse bill soars as hotline closes down

AMSTERDAM (Netherlands)

December 18, 2017

In total, 3,712 people have reported being victims of sexual abuse within the Catholic church to a special hotline set up in 2010 and the cost of dealing with the eight-year scandal could be as much as €60m.

Of all the reported cases to the hotline, 2,062 became official complaints and 1,002 cases were declared justified. Several hundred were not accepted because of a lack of supporting evidence, the final report from hotline officials said.

In 941 cases, the victims were given financial compensation, taking total payouts to €28.6m. Sixty-five victims who went through the most serious forms of abuse were given the maximum payout of €100,000.

According to the NRC newspaper, the real bill to the Catholic church is far higher. It says 403 victims reached secret deals with the church authorities, and received an estimated €12.8m in compensation.

Advocates demand state senators change child sex abuse law


December 18, 2017

By Bart Jones

The Child Victims Act would lift the statute of limitations for one year and allow victims to sue their perpetrators.

Advocates on Monday gathered outside the offices of two state senators to press them to help get a long-stalled bill passed in Albany that would temporarily lift the statute of limitations in child sex abuse cases.

The dozen protesters, including victims, university professors and supporters, said the “#MeToo” movement exposing sexual harassment against women is giving renewed life to their campaign, which started more than a decade ago.

“I think I am more hopeful than I have ever been,” said Marci Hamilton, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a leading advocate on the child sex abuse issue. “This is the best chance we’ve ever had with the Senate because of the #MeToo movement.”

The protesters gathered at the offices of state Sens. Elaine Phillips in Mineola and Carl Marcellino in Oyster Bay, both Republicans who narrowly won in the 2016 election. The advocates, who have formed a group called New Yorkers Against Hidden Predators, said they want the senators to pressure Senate Majority Leader John Flanagan (R-East Northport) to release the Child Victims Act out of committee so it can be voted on.

The bill passed the state Assembly this year, but was not taken up by the Senate, where it has languished for years.

Catholic priest released from jail, but has no apology for sexual assaults

7News Sydney

December 19, 2017

By Laura Banks

A former Catholic priest who sexually assaulted young girls over three decades has been released from jail after spending four years behind bars.

Now 81, he was freed at the earliest possible opportunity, but when confronted by Seven News there was no apology for his actions.

His stint behind bars over, Finian Egan had ample opportunity to show his contrition but he did not say a word when confronted.

Asked if he felt any remorse for what he had done, or if he had anything to say to his victims, he remained silent.

Egan was convicted of sexually assaulting three young girls.

Catholic League: Boston Globe Refuses to Name Its Own Abusers

CNS News

December 18, 2017

By Michael W. Chapman

The Boston Globe, which has turned stories about child sexual abuse by Catholic priests into a cottage industry, refuses to publish the names of its own staff members who have been charged with sexual harassment, according to Bill Donohue, president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights.

"Sexual abuse is still going on at the Globe," Donohue wrote in a Dec. 18 press release. "In March, a young woman employee filed a complaint against a male journalist with human resources. She said he propositioned her to have sex with his wife. But nothing came of it."

"One year ago, the same man propositioned her to have sex with him," reported Donohue. "He was allowed to stay on the job, until, that is, more accusations were made against him from outside the office."

Double Standard When It Comes to Sexual Harassment Reporting


December 19, 2017

By Michele Blood

As noted on 'The Ingraham Angle,' one publication has insisted on full exposure of alleged violators — but not within its own house

The Boston Globe on December 8 published the results of a self-examination of its corporate culture in the wake of the #MeToo movement. Curiously, although the examination uncovered a recent instance of alleged sexual impropriety that resulted in the resignation of at least one reporter, the publication declined to name that reporter — describing the scandal as a “confidential personnel matter.”

This same organization has gone after the Catholic Church for sexual impropriety and abuse by priests — with demands for transparency from the church over sexual abuse allegations lodged against several priests.

"The Ingraham Angle" on Monday night took the Globe to task on the hypocritical stance. Host Laura Ingraham noted that the Globe's reasoning for choosing not to reveal the name of the reporter included the fact that the incident did not involve physical violence.

Cardinal Law Said To Be At Death’s Door

New Boston Post

December 19, 2017

Cardinal Bernard Law, the long-serving archbishop of Boston who resigned under pressure during the height of the clergy-sex-abuse scandal, is “facing his final illness” at a hospital in Rome, according to a well-connected Vatican journalist.

Rocco Palma, who runs the web site Whispers in the Loggia, reported that church officials are in “active preparation for the death” of Law, 86.

According to Palma, Law is expected to be buried in Rome.

While Palma noted that Law’s standing in the United States – and especially in Boston – is “radioactive,” as a cardinal his death will not go unnoted by high-ranking members of the Church. Cardinal Sean O’Malley, Law’s successor as archbishop of Boston, will be expected to make a substantive statement and may consider going to Rome to concelebrate the funeral Mass. Pope Francis will also likely send an official message of condolences and, if he follows usual Vatican custom, will participate in Law’s funeral liturgy.

Report says 48 priests accused of child sex abuse worked in Queens, but diocese questions its accuracy


December 19, 2017

By Robert Pozarycki

Four dozen priests who worked at Queens churches over the last half-century were accused of child sex abuse, according to a report released by a legal group representing victims. The Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens, however, charged that the report isn’t completely accurate.

Lawyers Helping Survivors of Child Sex Abuse issued “Hidden Disgrace,” a 22-page summary which lists the names of 65 clergy members in the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens who have been accused of sexually abusing children; in some cases, the abuse occurred more than 50 years ago. An examination of the report found that 48 of the priests had been assigned to Queens churches, schools and institutions.

The report came out a week before the Dec. 21 deadline for child sex abuse survivors to enroll in the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program (IRCP). The Diocese of Brooklyn launched the voluntary settlement program in June to provide restitution to those who had been abused by a priest or deacon but who could not seek legal remedies because of an expired statute of limitations. Survivors can come forward on their own or with legal representation to file a claim.

Louisville priest convicted of sexual abuse now eligible for parole


December 19, 2017

By Lauren Adams

A Louisville priest twice convicted of sexually abusing young boys could be released from prison after serving only months of his sentence.

One of Joseph Hemmerle's victims testified before the parole board on Monday, arguing against his abuser's freedom.

"When I was sexually abused by Mr. Hemmerle two things were taken away from me that I will never get back, my innocence and my spirituality," Michael Norris said.

When testifying before the board Monday in Frankfort, Norris was at times fighting back tears.
The abuse happened at a Meade County camp in the 1970's. Norris, now 55, was just 10 years old. Decades would pass, marked with drug and alcohol abuse, even a suicide attempt before Norris went public with the abuse.

Now, one year after Hemmerle's conviction, he is eligible for parole.

Judge’s ruling disappoints attorney: Serbin says ruling means sexual abuse victim can’t have her day in court

Altoona Mirror

December 19, 2017

By Kay Stephens

Hollidaysburg — A local attorney said Monday that he is disappointed with the recent ruling by a Blair County judge, concluding that the statute of limitations has expired for a woman who last year filed a civil lawsuit, revealing that she was sexually molested, as a youth, by her priest.

The ruling prevents Renee Rice from having her day in court, Altoona attorney Richard Serbin said Monday.

Rice and her sister, Cheryl Haun, last year sued the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese and the Rev. Charles Bodziak, a former priest at St. Leo’s Church in the 1970s when Rice and Haun were growing up. The women accused Bodziak of groping, fondling and kissing them in the 1970s when they were children and he was their priest.

Bodziak denied the charges and on Monday, his attorney, R. Thomas Forr, said he thought Kopriva’s conclusion was valid.

Father Finian Egan abuse survivor believes there are more victims of paedophile priest


December 19, 2017

By James Thomas

A survivor of abuse by Catholic priest Finian Egan has slammed the church for protecting the convicted paedophile and says there are more victims out there.

"He's evil and a monster. He preys on children," Kellie Roche told 7.30.

"What kind of person does that?"

Finian Egan was released on parole today after serving the minimum four-year term of an eight-year sentence.

"You'd think that a paedophile would serve its full sentence. Because if anyone's going to serve their full sentence, shouldn't it be someone who is a threat to children?" Ms Roche said.

Lawyers release report naming abusive priests to prompt victims to apply for diocese’s fund

Brooklyn Eagle

December 19, 2017

By Colin Mixson

A flock of legal eagles on Thursday released a list of Kings County’s most corrupt Catholic priests that they hope will encourage sexual-abuse victims to apply for compensation from the Diocese of Brooklyn before it’s too late, according to one of the lawyers.

“We’re hoping to raise awareness with this report about the Brooklyn Diocese, the availability of this program for survivors, and specifically that the clock is running and there’s a hard deadline,” said Jerry Kristal, who works for law firm Weitz and Luxenberg, which released the list as part of a multi-firm collective called Lawyers Helping Survivors of Child Sex Abuse.

The document, entitled “Hidden Disgrace,” identifies 65 priests within the local diocese who were accused or convicted of sex crimes against children. In June, the Diocese of Brooklyn launched a fund to compensate sexual-abuse victims, but survivors have a Dec. 21 deadline to report incidents in order to be eligible for money from the program.

December 18, 2017

Survivors vow to replace Loud Fence ribbons removed from St Patrick’s Cathedral

The Courier

December 17, 2017

By Michelle Smith

The very visible sign of Ballarat’s child sexual abuse history – the fluttering ribbons of the Loud Fence of St Patrick’s Cathedral – have been removed and placed in a reflection garden in the church grounds.

On Sunday, about 60 parishioners removed the hundreds of ribbons that survivors had placed there from the early days of the Royal Commission hearings in to child sexual abuse in the Ballarat diocese.

The removal of the ribbons drew mixed reactions from survivors and families, as did their placement in a glass-topped chest.

A lack of consultation about the process and timing of the ribbon removal, just days after the Royal Commission in to Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its final recommendations, also angered many.

Sexual abuse survivor Phil Nagle said the ribbons belonged on the fence, and said survivors would return and replace the ribbons.

“The ribbons are our voice and a voice for all the people who can’t stand up and talk,” he said.

“I think you will find this week, if there’s no proper consultation the ribbons will keep coming back.”

Dassi's journey: from Adass abuse survivor to campaigner for justice

The Age

December 17, 2017

By Rachel Kleinman

Dassi Erlich was sitting in a Jerusalem restaurant last month with her sisters, Elly Sapper and Nicole Meyer, inside a cavernous space dominated by funky light fittings, when an ultra-Orthodox Jewish teenager approached the table.

The girl had recognised the three women from Israeli television coverage. As she spoke, they listened with tears in their eyes.

"She shared a similar story to ours," Erlich says. "An insular school, vulnerable students, a female principal abusing her power … As soon as she said it, you could see the fear. She wouldn't tell us her name or what school she went to.

"[But] seeing us, our story and the campaign on TV had given her the courage and understanding to stop what was happening to her."

It was a rare spontaneous encounter for the three siblings in a tightly-packed, gruelling nine-day visit to Israel.

They met with Israeli Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, Israel's top prosecutor Yuval Kaplinsky and members of the Knesset, Israel's parliament. They were trailed by Israeli and Australian camera crews.

But the approach from the teenage sexual abuse survivor was a pivotal moment.

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR: Catholic school abuse in plain sight for years

The Sunday Times

December 17, 2017

Long before the appalling cruelty inflicted on Stephen Bleach in the 1970s, the abuse at St Benedict’s School in Ealing, west London, was widely known but no one did anything about it (“The monks who stole my childhood”, News Review, last week).

In the 1950s I went to a grammar school in Wembley and we all heard stories about savage beatings by the monks and were familiar enough with the Marquis de Sade to recognise sexual perversion masquerading as discipline. We were thankful we weren’t Catholics. It diminished organised religion, and Catholicism in particular, in my young eyes.
Michael Cole, Woodbridge, Suffolk

Diocese of Baton Rouge announces inquiry into abuse claim against Gonzales church pastor

The Advocate

December 16, 2017

By Gordon Russell

The Diocese of Baton Rouge is probing a complaint about sexual misconduct by a Gonzales parish priest that allegedly occurred in 1996, a church spokesman said.

The Diocese of Baton Rouge is investigating a complaint it received last month about sexual misconduct by a Gonzales parish priest that allegedly occurred in 1996, a church spokesman said.

The woman, who alerted church officials Nov. 8 about the alleged abuse by Father Eric Gyan, also recently contacted The Advocate about the case. After being contacted by the newspaper, the diocese late Saturday issued a news release saying that Gyan was the subject of the complaint and that it has begun an inquiry.

The complaint is the first one the diocese has received about Gyan, according to the statement. Gyan, who was ordained as a priest more than three decades ago, is now pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Gonzales.

So far, the diocese’s investigation “has not yielded any cause to remove Fr. Gyan from his current pastoral service,” the statement said, adding that Gyan “has categorically denied the allegation.”

The woman told The Advocate that Gyan forced her to perform sex acts on him on multiple occasions in 1996, when he was the pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Brusly and she was a 10-year-old parishioner there. The abuse occurred when she went to confession to him, according to the woman, who is now 31.

Gyan, who did not return a message from The Advocate, read the diocese’s statement to parishioners at 4 p.m. Mass on Saturday.


The Tablet

December 16, 2017

By Rose Gamble and Alex Daniel

'The victims were abused by those who they had been brought up to see as God’s representative on earth'

There is something inherent in the “very nature” of the English Benedictine Congregations’ schools and monasteries that has contributed to and “even enabled” the scale and extent of child abuse, the national inquiry into child sex abuse has heard.

On the final day of a three-week hearing into the Congregation as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), which is taking place in London, the inquiry heard closing statements, including recommendations, from four lawyers representing victims of abuse.

Dominic Ruck-Keene, who is acting on behalf of a group sexual abuse survivors, said he believed the role of the abbot in the English Benedictine Community is of particular concern.

Abbots, he told the inquiry, hold “too much power” and are subject to a conflict of interests. An abbot’s desire to maintain the fellowship of a community has “a very real effect on safeguarding decisions and actions” he said.

Likewise, he said, monks and priests could sometimes be seen as figures who are beyond reproach.

Mr Ruck-Keene said he noted past and continued institutional weaknesses of the English Benedictine Congregation, including a lack of central direction; a lack of central record keeping; and active investigation and management of abusive monks, even when the Abbot had been informed of particular concerns about individuals.

All these he said, “appear to have contributed to the erratic and inconsistent record of individual abbeys understanding and implementing what were meant to be national safeguarding policies.”

Priest in Gonzales accused of sexual misconduct, diocese says


December 16, 2017

GONZALES – An investigation is underway after a priest in Gonzales has been accused of sexual misconduct, according to the Diocese of Baton Rouge.

According to the diocese, an allegation of sexual misconduct was received on November 8 from a woman in her thirties against Fr. Eric Gyan, currently a pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Gonzales. The misconduct was alleged to have occurred in 1996 when the woman was a minor and Fr. Gyan was a pastor of St. John the Baptist in Brusly.

The diocese says it has notified civil officials of the allegations and, as required by canon law, “trained professional lay persons were appointed by the diocese to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the matter.”

Additionally, the diocese’s victim assistance coordinator has spoken to the woman who has made the allegation and has offered assistance on behalf of the diocese.

Arrested priest extradited to North Dakota


December 17, 2017

A PRIEST accused of molesting two boys in the 1990s has been extradited from the Philippines to North Dakota to face charges.

The US Attorney's Office for North Dakota announced Friday that Fernando Laude Sayasaya is back in the United States and will face child sexual abuse charges in Cass County.

Amid the allegations, Sayasaya went to the Philippines in 1998 and didn't return. A Philippines court ordered his extradition in 2010. He appealed, lost and was ultimately arrested last month.

The charges allege Sayasaya abused two underage siblings from 1995 to 1998. He was assigned to the Blessed Sacrament Catholic church and to St. Mary's Cathedral at the time.

Online court records don't list an attorney for Sayasaya to comment on his behalf. (AP)

'Unjust' Justin Welby will be judged for sacking me over sex abuse case, former Archbishop says

The Telegraph

December 17, 2017

By Hayley Dixon and Olivia Rudgard

The former Archbishop of Canterbury has hit out at his "unjust" successor Justin Welby saying that he will be judged for sacking him over the way he dealt with a sex scandal.

In a Christmas letter to friends, Lord George Carey has spoken out for the first time about his treatment by The Most Rev Justin Welby who "insisted" that he stand aside over his handling of the allegations against Bishop Peter Ball.

The comments come just days after Archbishop Welby was himself criticised for his handling of the sex assault allegations against George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, who he refused to clear despite an independent review concluding that he was besmirched by the Church of England.

Although it is understood that the comments by Lord Carey on his own treatment were written in November, they were not sent out until this weekend at the end up a turbulent week for the church.

In the letter "Greetings from The Careys 2017", seen by the Telegraph, Lord Carey updates his friends about developments in the year.

Former archbishop of Canterbury lashes out at Justin Welby in letter

The Guardian

December 17, 2017

By Harriet Sherwood

George Carey says it is ‘shocking’ that his successor asked him to quit honorary post over role in sexual abuse case

The former archbishop of Canterbury George Carey has launched an extraordinary broadside against his successor, Justin Welby, in a Christmas letter to friends.

In a letter headed “Greetings from the Careys 2017”, Lord Carey, 82, lashes out at the “shocking” and “quite unjust” demand by Welby that he resign an honorary post because of his involvement in a high-profile sexual abuse case.

In recounting key events of his year, Carey tells friends of the “shocking insistence by the archbishop that I should stand down from ministry ‘for a season’ for mistakes he believes were made 24 years ago when bishop Peter Ball abused young potential priests. His decision is quite unjust and eventually will be judged as such.”

He adds: “Just as well, then, that we are surrounded by a large and wonderful family who give us great support and pleasure.”

The former archbishop, who retired from the post in 2002, resigned as honorary assistant bishop in the diocese of Oxford in June after a damning independent inquiry criticised the Church of England’s handling of the Ball case.

He quit after Welby made an unprecedented request for him to “carefully consider his position”. The inquiry found the church had “colluded” with Ball, the former bishop of Lewes and Gloucester, “rather than seeking to help those he had harmed”.

Ball was released from prison in February after serving 16 months for the grooming, sexual exploitation and abuse of 18 vulnerable young men who had sought spiritual guidance from him between 1977 and 1992.

Recommendations to protect church abuse survivors 'have been ignored'

Press Association

December 17, 2017

A safeguarding expert who wrote a review of sex abuse within the Church of England said his recommendations for better practice to protect survivors have been ignored.

Ian Elliott told BBC Radio 4's Sunday programme he was "very disturbed" by statements about alleged "factual inaccuracies" in his report, and said those within the Church who could support his findings have failed to back him publicly.

Taking the unusual step of speaking out about the report, Mr Elliott said he was particularly perturbed by senior figures within the Church who wrongly believed pastoral support to victims should be withdrawn the moment legal proceedings begin.

Mr Elliott said withdrawing that care left survivors, particularly those with mental health issues, vulnerable.

He said: "Now that just simply should never happen and I needed to draw attention to that fact in the report, which I did, and I think that's something which - my impression is - has caused a great deal of upset and concern amongst many who I do not think have the correct attitude or approach to survivors within the Church of England."

Mr Elliott said one survivor told him he had spoken to two senior and prominent members of the CofE about his "shocking" abuse, but they had not taken "the required actions".

He said: "(The survivor) spoke to 23 victims, all of whom he identified when and where the conversations took place. Not all of those individuals said they could remember the conversations, but half of them did and confirmed they had not taken the right actions - not known really what do to."

Tribune Editorial: The LDS Church should revise the ‘bishop's interview’

The Salt Lake Tribune

December 18, 2017

In light of the recent social media #MeToo campaign, which has brought to light the deplorable pervasiveness of sexual harassment and abuse, some are questioning common practices that may cross similar, inappropriate lines.

It turns out, it is not appropriate for adolescent and teen youth to sit in a room with a male ecclesiastical leader with the door closed and be expected to answer questions about sexual history, inclinations or desires.

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Peggy Fletcher Stack recently reported on the questionable nature of the prominent practice of the “bishop interview” within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Reporters delved into the subject on the Tribune’s popular podcast, “Mormon Land,” along with Salt Lake City therapist Julie de Azevedo Hanks and a former LDS Bishop Richard Ostler.

The consensus is that the practice of Mormon bishops “interviewing” adolescents about their sexual history as part of the repentance process is both unnecessary and fraught with danger. It places adolescents in uncomfortable situations where they feel obligated to talk about sensitive issues with non-family members. It also sets men up for misunderstandings and even possible temptation. Heaven forbid the church embolden such awful acts like child abuse, as happened with Erik Hughes, who was recently sentenced for sexually abusing two boys during his time as a LDS bishop.

New Bishop of London urges more women and minority priests for ‘relevant’ Church

Dunfermline Press

December 18, 2017

More churches should be led by female priests and those “who come from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups”, the new Bishop of London has said.

The Right Reverend Sarah Mullally said the Church of England was undergoing a “period of reflection”, with the theme of diversity featuring heavily in her inaugural speech.

Ms Mullally, who is the first woman to hold the third most important role in the Church of England, suggested that the institution should be at the heart of communities if it is to stay current.

“If our churches are going to be more relevant to our communities, that means increasing churches that are led by priests that are women, who come from black, Asian and minority ethnic groups,” she said.

The former nurse acknowledged the division in the diocese of London over the ordination of female priests, and said she is “very respectful of those who cannot accept my role as a priest or bishop”.

Decades later, women file sex abuse complaints in Cayuga County, push for law changes

The Citizen

December 18, 2017

By Megan Blarr

Pamela Deacon O'Grady remembers the first time she met him.

It was the summer of 1978. A clarinet player at Auburn High School, O'Grady was learning the music for the fall marching band. She had just graduated from eighth grade.

"I walked in (the high school band room) and saw him for the first time," she said. "I remember how nervous and intimidated I was ... because he was so tall."

He was her music teacher. She was 14 years old.

For the next five years, O'Grady said, he would sexually abuse her — in the band office, in the auditorium, in his car and in his home. He told her not to tell.

"I never told the secret," O'Grady said, "until now."

But now, she said, it's too late.

"Due to New York's statute of limitations, it's too late to press charges," she said. "Because of the statute of limitations, there is nothing I can do."

That could change, however, for future sex abuse victims, as proposed state legislation aims to extend or eliminate the statute of limitations.

Raising awareness about the law and why it can take some victims many years to bring forth accusations is one reason O'Grady and another woman — who said she was sexually abused in the early 1980s by a current Cayuga County resident — brought their stories to law enforcement and The Citizen in recent months.

Broken Bay bishop warns of coming release of paedophile priest

Central Coast Gosford Express Advocate

December 17, 2017

THE Catholic bishop of Broken Bay has taken the unprecedented step of warning his parishioners of the impending release of a paedophile priest from jail.

Finian Egan is due to be released from Long Bay Prison on parole tomorrow after serving four years of an eight-year sentence for the rape and abuse of young girls over three decades on NSW Central Coast and in Sydney.

Egan was jailed after being found guilty of seven counts of indecent assault and one count of rape in relation to attacks on girls aged 10 to 17 in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. His crimes included the assault and rape a 17-year-old girl at a church owned house at the Entrance.

Prompted by last week’s Royal Commission report into institutional responses to child abuse, Bishop Comensoli, wrote to parishioners and also imposed further restrictions on Egan.

OP-ED: #MeToo Is NOT About Forgiving Abusers. It Is About Honoring Women Who Come Forward

The Daily Caller

December 17, 2017

By Dr. Patti Feuereisen

With all the #MeToo stories and the recent news on sex abusers from Hollywood to national television anchors, the conversation of sex abuse is finally in the forefront. In the three decades I have focused my work as a psychotherapist with sex abuse survivors I have heard these stories and the stories of fathers brutally molesting their daughters year after year — only to be told by their mothers to leave once they revealed their incest. And the stories of date rape and girls blaming themselves for years because they were told it was their fault. Now that the conversation is beginning from the survivors, there is a lot of talk about how to heal. I can count the times when clients have come to me having been told by a well-intentioned therapist or clergy person to forgive their abuser. They are told that if they can forgive, then they can heal and move forward.

I say NO.

The only person a survivor needs to forgive is herself. She needs to forgive herself for not being able to stop the abuse, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time, for not being willing or able to speak out against her boss, her minister or rabbi, her coach — whoever her perpetrator might be.

When you are not ready to forgive, when your anger gives you strength, then be angry. As far as I am concerned, forgiveness is a gift to your abuser. He is 100 percent responsible and you do not owe him a thing.

Lord Carey slams Archbishop Justin Welby over his departure after abuse report


December 18, 2017

By Alex Williams

A former Archbishop of Canterbury has described pressure placed on him by Justin Welby to resign from his role as an honorary assistant bishop in Oxford as "shocking".

Lord Carey accused his successor (pictured below) of "unjust" behaviour in urging him to consider relinquishing his position, following a report which criticised his response to sex abuse allegations.

Published in June, the independent report by Dame Moira Gibb concluded the 82-year-old received seven letters raising concerns about an abusive bishop but only passed one note to police.

The report also said Lord Carey did not put Bishop Peter Ball's name onto a list of clergy whose behaviour had raised safeguarding concerns.

Mildura priest makes his stand

Sunraysia Daily

December 17, 2017

By Christopher Testa

MILDURA’S Sacred Heart Parish priest says he would tell police if someone came to him with a confession of child abuse.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has recommended a law be introduced forcing religious leaders to report child abuse, even if they are told in the sanct­ity of the confessional.

Father Michael McKinnon said while it was unlikely a child abuse perpetrator would confess to abusing children, he would report any such admission to the authorities.

Judge tosses lawsuits against priest

Altoona Mirror

December 17, 2017

By Kay Stephens

Kopriva says statute of limitations expired in suits alleging sexual molestation

HOLLIDAYSBURG — A Blair County judge has concluded that the statute of limitations has expired for a pair of civil lawsuits initiated last year by two women who accused a local priest of sexually molesting them when they were children.

In a ruling issued Friday, Judge Jolene G. Kopriva granted requests from the Altoona-Johnstown Catholic Diocese and the Rev. Charles Bodziak, a former priest at St. Leo’s Church in Altoona, for judgments that bring the cases to an end in county court.

“In summary, as there are no applicable exceptions to the two-year statue of limitations in this case, the plaintiff’s claims are barred as untimely,” the judge concluded.

Kopriva’s ruling is subject to appeal, but in her order, she makes it clear that her decision is reflective of two Superior Court rulings, both in 2005, involving similar allegations and arguments.

“At times we reach that point in law, owing either to binding precedent or statutory authority, where a wrong may regrettably have no redress,” the judge concluded. “The appellate courts or legislature retain the power to alter that situation if they so choose. …”

The Blair County civil lawsuits were initiated in June 2016 by Altoona attorney Richard Serbin on behalf of Renee Rice, then 48, and her sister, Cheryl Haun, then 47. Both women accused Bodziak of groping, fondling and kissing them when they were children in the 1970s and Bodziak was their priest.

Haun said the abuse started at her first communion party and continued when she went on school trips, where Bodziak told her that what he was doing was OK because he was a priest.

Ex-priest facing sex assault charge posts bail

The Associated Press

December 16, 2017

A former Jesuit priest charged with child sexual assault dating to 1998 has posted bail and returned to a Catholic Church-run residential facility in Missouri.

The Portland Press Herald reports an attorney for 80-year-old James Francis Talbot said his client posted $50,000 cash bail and was sent back to Vianney Renewal Center for troubled or former priests. Many priests there have been accused of sex abuse.

Talbot has spent six years in prison for a sexual abuse conviction in Massachusetts. Talbot had been living at the Missouri facility for six years.

A Freeport man alleged Talbot abused him on several occasions when he was 9 years old at St. Jude Church in Freeport. Talbot pleaded not guilty to sexual assault charges and is scheduled to appear in court in February.

Paedophile priest Finian Egan warned to stay away from NSW diocese after release on parole

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 18, 2017

By Sarah Gerathy

A Catholic bishop has taken the unusual step of warning his parishioners of the impending release of a paedophile priest and imposing additional restrictions on him.

Finian Egan is due to be released from Long Bay Prison on parole tomorrow after serving four years of an eight-year sentence for the rape and abuse of young girls over three decades on the NSW Central Coast and in Sydney.

The Bishop of Broken Bay, Peter Comensoli, wrote to parishioners in his diocese in the wake of last week's royal commission report into institutional responses to child abuse.

"The pain and complexity of the matters detailed in the royal commission have reached deeply into our lives in many different ways," Bishop Comensoli wrote.

"I want to acknowledge one local situation which will enter a new phase this week. On Tuesday ... Finian Egan, formerly a priest of the Diocese of Broken Bay, is to be released on parole."

"This development will occasion different reactions and emotions for many of you, even distress, especially for those who may have known Finian, and most particularly for those who have been offended against and hurt by him."

Catholic priest in Toowoomba says sexual abuse needs to stop

The Courier-Mail

December 18, 2017

By Tracey Ferrier (AAP)

A CATHOLIC priest in Toowoomba has told his congregation the church is a flawed institution, and Australian archbishops must fight for change to stop sexual abuse.

Father Peter Schultz used his homily on Sunday to personally apologise to anyone who'd suffered abuse, which he said was the fault of the church hierarchy.

"We are a flawed institution and we have to own that fact," he told followers at St Thomas More's Church in South Toowoomba, just a few days after the royal commission into institutional abuse handed down its final report.

Second Director Says Weinsteins Blacklisted Actress Mira Sorvino From Film

Huffington Post

December 17, 2017

By Dominique Mosbergen

Terry Zwigoff’s claim comes on the heels of a similar allegation made this week by “Lord of the Rings” director Peter Jackson.

A second director has stepped forward this week with claims that Harvey and Bob Weinstein blacklisted actress Mira Sorvino and prevented her from being cast in films.

Terry Zwigoff, director of “Bad Santa,” wrote on Twitter on Saturday that he’d been interested in casting Sorvino in the 2003 comedy. Zwigoff alleged, however, that every time he mentioned her name “over the phone to the Weinsteins,” the sibling producers would immediately hang up.

“I’m really sorry Mira,” the director wrote.

Mario Batali’s Apology For Sexual Harassment Included A Cinnamon Roll Recipe

Huffington Post

December 16, 2017

By Sara Boboltz

The celebrity chef oddly tacked on a recipe to an apology note to fans.

Mario Batali, the former host of “The Chew” who stands accused of sexual misconduct, issued an apology to fans on Friday through his newsletter and inexplicably ended it with a recipe for cinnamon rolls.

So far, eight women have come forward to say Batali groped them, made sexually explicit comments or other unwanted sexual advances. One particularly disturbing anecdote in The New York Times described Batali “groping and kissing a woman who appeared to be unconscious” in a New York restaurant’s so-called “rape room.”

“I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team. My behavior was wrong and there are no excuses. I take full responsibility,” Batali wrote in the letter, his most recent in a series of apologetic statements.

“Sharing the joys of Italian food, tradition and hospitality with all of you, each week, is an honor and privilege. Without the support of all of you ― my fans ― I would never have a forum in which to expound on this,” he continued. “I will work every day to regain your respect and trust.”

And then, the tone-deaf kicker: “ps. in case you’re searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite.”

Conservative movement severs ties with former youth director over alleged sexual abuse

Jewish News Service

December 15, 2017

By Elizabeth Kratz

The congregational arm of Conservative Judaism has severed ties with the longtime director of the denomination’s youth movement after receiving “multiple testimonies” that corroborated an allegation of sexual abuse.

Allegations about Jules Gutin, 67, who in 2011 completed his 20-year tenure as international director of United Synagogue Youth (USY) and since 2012 had conducted tours of Poland for USY, first came to light Nov. 9 through a Facebook post by a man who claimed that someone who worked with thousands of teens had abused him in the 1980s. After confirming with the man that he was referring to Gutin in his post, JNS communicated with several other men who alleged that they were underage victims of unwanted sexual touch by Gutin during that decade.

“Two of my USYers have said very similar things to me over the years, and named the same name,” said Arnie Draiman, a former USY youth advisor.

According to an email dated Nov. 21 that was obtained by JNS, Gutin asked the man who made the initial accusation on Facebook not to name him or USY in communication with the media in order to “spare my family from pain” and avoid “any harm to an organization we both love.”

“Whatever points you want to make would be just as powerful without people knowing the specific individual,” Gutin wrote to his accuser. He also wrote that USCJ was “totally justified” in suspending him from staffing any of its programs, and concluded the email, “Once again I am sorry.”

Earlier this month, when The New York Jewish Week first reported that Gutin had been terminated by the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism (USCJ) due to sexual abuse allegations, the casual reader might have missed the news.

Ragazzini “abusati” in parrocchia Padre Guidolin, verbali choc

Live Sicilia Catania

December 13, 2017

By Antonio Condorelli

[Google Translate: Fake exorcisms, false diagnosis of "testicular tumors" and purifications. Exclusively here are the minutes that led to the arrest of the priest from Catania.]

CATANIA – “Durante gli abusi sessuali, Padre Pio Guidolin pregava a voce alta...lui mi diceva che io lo dovevo aiutare e io lo facevo perché gli dovevo dare forza e perché lui è un sacerdote e quindi pensavo fosse giusto farlo”. Intercettazioni e testimonianze raccapriccianti sono agli atti dell'operazione che ha portato all'arresto di Padre Pio Guidolin, noto sacerdote catanese accusato di aver abusato dei ragazzini della parrocchia Villaggio Sant'Agata.

Minori violentati più volte, anche per diversi anni. Dalla ricostruzione degli inquirenti, pubblicabile solo in parte per tutelare le vittime, emerge la figura di un sacerdote che avrebbe escogitato rituali a base di olio santo per “purificare” i minori e abusarli.

RITI DI “GUARIGIONE” - Padre Guidolin avrebbe plagiato i ragazzini, molti dei quali legatissimi a lui. Iniziava – secondo i magistrati - spogliando i minori, cospargendoli di olio, in alcuni casi avrebbe approfittato anche dei problemi famigliari delle giovani vittime, recitando preghiere liberatorie.

Vaticano, usciere arrestato con droga e materiale pedopornografico. Gli inquirenti: “Non erano per lui”

il Fatto Quotidiano

December 17, 2017

di F. Q.

[Google Translate: A Vatican usher was arrested while he was carrying cocaine and five usb sticks full of child porn videos and photos . But, as the judge wrote for preliminary investigations, "the material is clearly held for sale to third parties ".]

A riportare la notizia è La Repubblica. L'uomo non ha rivelato a chi fossero destinati droga e video. Secondo il gip: "Potrebbe godere anche di appoggi che lo spingono a trovare ospitalità in ambienti protetti"

Un usciere del Vaticano è stato arrestato mentre aveva con sé cocaina e cinque chiavette usb piene di video e foto pedopornografici. Ma, come ha scritto il giudice pe rle indagini preliminari, “il materiale è chiaramente detenuto a fini di cessione a terzi“. Allora, si sono chiesti gli investigatori, “a chi erano destinati droga e filmini in cui sono vittime minori?” Ostilio Del Balzo, così si chiama l’uomo arrestato, non ha voluto rivelarlo.

Australia abuse: Archbishop rejects call to report confessions

BBC News

December 15, 2017

A senior member of the Roman Catholic Church in Australia has rejected a key recommendation of a landmark inquiry into child sex abuse.

It said priests should report abuse confided to them, even in the secret context of the confessional.

But the archbishop of Melbourne said any priest who broke the seal of confession would be excommunicated.

This means they would cease to be a member of the Church and would no longer be allowed a Catholic funeral.

The Most Rev Denis Hart said a law requiring this of priests would undermine a central tenet of Catholicism, the sacredness of the confessional.

December 17, 2017

Cheverus victims seek the justice they never received

Press Herald

December 17, 2017

By Eric Russell

[See also some earlier articles about Charles Malia.]

At Cheverus, they were taught moral responsibility, but victims of alleged abuse by a former teacher say they're still waiting for the school and the Jesuit community to practice what they preach.

When Michael Sweatt looked at his son’s schedule and saw the familiar name of a teacher, he went to the school and demanded his son be removed from that class.

Cheverus officials balked at first, he said, until Sweatt revealed that the teacher, Charles Malia, abused him back in the mid-1970s.

Sweatt said the response from the school’s then-president, John Mullen, was, “Why would you enroll your son here?”

“My response was: Because I know where the pedophile is in the building,” Sweatt said. “I don’t know where he is at Deering or Portland.”

Since that day in 1997, a dozen former Cheverus students have come forward saying Malia molested them.

But Malia wasn’t alone.

Just last month, another former Cheverus employee who was a Jesuit priest when he sexually abused students at the school was charged with a new crime – sexually assaulting a 9-year-old boy in Freeport 20 years ago.

For Sweatt and other victims, the re-emergence of James Francis Talbot in the news is a reminder of the justice they never got from the school in Portland. While a few victims of Talbot received civil settlements, Malia’s victims have never been offered settlements and have no power to go to court.

Royal Commission: Support workers pay tribute to 'remarkable' abuse survivors

Sydney Morning Herald

December 14, 2017

By Miki Perkins

To be heard, to be listened to, and to be believed.

That's what survivors of sexual abuse deserve, say the lawyers and social workers who have supported thousands of people who shared their tragic stories with the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, to be handed down on Friday.

Megan Ross is the managing lawyer at Knowmore, an independent legal service set up when the commission was established to give free advice to people who might want to tell their stories.

As well as uncovering the horrific extent of child sexual abuse, and devising reforms, the commission has offered a forum where survivors feel heard and believed, Ms Ross says.

"It has been a real privilege to be part of a process like this, where people feel empowered and have a sense of validation. It's palpable," she says.

Since July 2013, more than 8000 clients have come through Knowmore's doors. About 23 per cent of them have been Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. About 20 per cent have been to prison.

‘I was abused too’: the bishop who fought for sex abuse victims

Eternity News

December 15, 2017

By Anne Lim

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse handed down its final report this week. A long-time campaigner for and supporter of survivors of abuse by clergy is retired Catholic bishop Geoffrey Robinson. He spoke with Eternity’s Anne Lim:

Bishop Geoffrey Robinson was born into a world of faith. But in another life, it’s quite likely that he would have been happier as a family man and may not even have been a priest.

The retired Catholic bishop is aghast when he looks at 12-year-old boys today because at that tender age his mother, a good Irish Catholic, sent him to the seminary.

“Looking back, I would say that my mother belonged to that category of Irish descent who desperately wanted to have a child who was a priest,” says the bishop, who went on to reject his mother’s brand of Catholicism and campaign for a radically reformed Catholic Church.

One thing he will never regret – being a crusader for justice and healing for the victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

He believes his father would have stopped her sending him away so young if he had not died from a heart attack the year before.

The young Geoffrey thought little of the consequences, though they came to weigh on him later. “It means that at the age of 12, I was committed to a life of celibacy,” he says.

The Case of Irene Garza & the Catholic Church

The Mary Sue

December 15, 2017

By Princess Weekes

There was a recent episode of one of my favorite podcasts, My Favorite Murder episode 99: “Shin Kick,” which discussed the murder and case of Irene Garza, and instantly I thought, I need to write about this, but how? Well, life finds a way.

Today, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse finished a 1,000-page report, filled with recommendations to the Church including that “Catholic priests should not be forced to live a life of celibacy, and the sanctity of the confessional should not prevent religious figures from reporting child sex abuse.” According to the findings by the Royal Commission, 61.8% of sexual abuse cases connected to religion came from the Catholic church.

The case of the rape and murder of Irene Garza is tied heavily to the corruption and cover-ups that happen with just that kind of abuse in the Roman Catholic Church. On April 16, 1960, Irene Garza was last seen going in for confession—in the rectory rather than the confessional, unusually—at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas. Garza’s body wasn’t located until the 21st of April, in a canal, and the postmortem examination found that Garza was raped and beaten before dying of suffocation. All physical evidence, semen, blood, hair, etc., was washed away by the canal.

Father John Feit was the last person to see her alive.

The child abuse commission didn't flinch. Can Australia show the same courage?

The Guardian

December 15, 2017

By David Marr

[See the Royal Commission report.]

The commissioners’ immense work now needs all the help it can get to overcome the religious establishment

It’s huge. Don’t believe anyone who tells you they’ve already absorbed its lessons. Digesting the 17 volumes of the report of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is a work in progress for the nation.

It’s going to take time. Journalists and economists are given a head start on the Australian federal budget each year: a few hours’ lockup to help them get on top of the budget before it’s delivered. We – survivors, bishops, lawyers and journalists – should have been locked up with this for a week.

The danger is that after we’ve flicked through its pages for a few hours, checked out the recommendations and honed in on the more outrageous failings of the Catholic church, these volumes will fade from attention.

But this is a long game.

That’s clear even from the bulk of the thing stacked in two blue piles, threatening to tip over the governor general’s table while he shuffled papers about and signed something – a receipt? – for his summer reading.

At that point, Peter McClellan and his team of commissioners lost all their powers. For five years they’ve dug documents from their hiding places, quizzed the highest in the land, heard survivors map their horrors and researched the past in painstaking detail.

Child sexual abuse royal commission: recommendations and statistics at a glance

The Guardian

December 15, 2017

The Australian royal commission into the institutional responses to child sexual abuse has handed down its final report. Here are the key points

Key recommendations

The royal commission’s final report (pdf) has made 189 new recommendations, including:

• The federal government should establish a National Office for Child Safety, sitting within the department of prime minister and cabinet. Its first job should be to develop a national framework to prevent child sexual abuse.

• The federal government should create a portfolio overseeing policy towards children

• All institutions should implement a list of child safe standards identified by the royal commission, to be enforced by federal, state and territory governments

• Parish priests should no longer be the employers of principals and teachers in Catholic schools

• There should be no exemption to mandatory reporting for child sexual abuse disclosed during a religious confession

• The Australian Catholic bishops conference should request the Holy See to amend a series of church laws relating to child sexual abuse, including removing the requirement to destroy documents under certain circumstances, and to consider introducing voluntary celibacy for diocesan clergy

• Anglican bishops should be accountable to an appropriate body in relation to their response to complaints of child sexual abuse

* * *


Some statistics published by the royal commission vary slightly. These are sourced from the final information update.

• The royal commission heard evidence from almost 8,000 witnesses in private sessions, received 1,344 written accounts and held 444 days of public hearings

• The evidence related to 3,489 institutions

• Most survivors (63.6%) were male

• 93.8% were abused by a male

• 83.8% of survivors said they were abused by an adult

• More than half of survivors were between 10 and 14 when they were first abused. The average age of victims when first abused was 10.4 years

• The average age of survivors at the time of their private session was 52. The youngest to attend a private session was seven; the oldest was 93

• More than a third (36.3%) said they were abused by multiple perpetrators

• Child sexual abuse experienced in institutions continued for an average of 2.2 years

• Abuse took place most commonly in an institution managed by a religious organisation (reported by 58.1% of survivors). Government-run institutions accounted for 32.5% and non-government, non-religious institutions for 10.5%.

• Of those abused in a religious institution, 61.4% were in a Catholic institution, 14.8% Anglican, 7.2% Salvation Army and the rest in various denominations

• As a proportion of all survivors, 35.7% were in a Catholic institution and 8.6% in an Anglican institution

Catholic church dismisses key recommendations from landmark inquiry into child abuse

The Guardian

December 15, 2017

By Melissa Davey

Leaders of the Catholic church in Australia have quickly dismissed calls from a landmark inquiry into child sexual abuse that the Vatican should make celibacy for priests voluntary and end the secrecy of confession.

After five years of work, Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse delivered its 21-volume report to government containing 400 recommendations – 189 of them new – to governments and organisations about how to prevent children being harmed on such a scale again.

It found the inadequacy of canon law contributed to the failure of the Catholic church to protect children and report or punish perpetrators within church institutions.

The commission urged the Australian Catholic bishops conference to ask the Vatican to reform canon law by removing provisions that “prevent, hinder or discourage compliance with mandatory reporting laws by bishops or religious superiors”.

Do ask, do tell: Commission calls for mandatory reporting of child sex abuse

Sydney Morning Herald

December 15, 2017

By Melissa Cunningham

People working closely with children, such as priests or foster carers, should be forced to tell police about sexual abuse under mandatory reporting laws, a royal commission has found.

Religious ministers, out-of-home care workers, childcare workers, registered psychologists and school counsellors should be brought into line with police, doctors and nurses who are all obliged by law to report sexual abuse.

This would include any abuse disclosures made to clergy in confession.

In its final report, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has called for a systematic overhaul of the culture, structure and governance practices which allowed paedophiles to flourish.

The commission called for state and federal governments to bring in a single obligatory reporting model which would mean all individuals who work with children are required to report sexual abuse.

The Reckoning, Part 2: David Marr on the appalling truth revealed at the child sexual abuse commission

The Guardian

December 15, 2017

By David Marr, Melissa Davey and Miles Martignoni

[Part 1 of this report may be found here.]

David Marr and Melissa Davey follow the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse – from the hearings in Ballarat in Victoria, ground zero of Australia’s abuse scandal, to a powerful final gathering in Sydney. The story includes evidence from Australia’s most notorious child abuser, Gerald Ridsdale, and his victims.

'Loud Fence' ribbons removed from Ballarat cathedral three days after royal commission findings


By Sue Peacock

Ballarat Catholic Diocese Vicar-General Father Justin Driscoll has defended the decision to cut hundreds of brightly coloured ribbons off the fence at St Patrick's Cathedral just three days after the findings of the royal commission into child sexual abuse were made public.

The ribbons represented support for victims of child sexual abuse and were part of the Ballarat-born Loud Fence movement, which has spread around the world in the wake of widespread abuse by institutions such as the Catholic Church.

The ribbons were stripped from the fence on Sunday by St Patrick's parishioners and placed in a special purpose-built box in the corner of the churchyard.

But just hours after they were removed new ones were being tied back on after survivors and their supporters reacted angrily to the move.

And many of them took to social media vowing they would decorate the cathedral fence on Ballarat's main street with even more ribbons this week.

Disrespectful and a mistake

Loud fence founder Maureen Hatcher criticised the move — which coincided with the opening of a memorial garden at the cathedral for those affected by abuse — saying it was disrespectful and a mistake.

Longreads Best of 2017: Investigative Reporting on Sexual Misconduct


December 15, 2017

By Mike Dang

It was a year in which investigations loomed over us as we woke up each day and absorbed the news. Former FBI director Robert Mueller began investigating whether Donald Trump’s presidential campaign had any links to the Russian government and its efforts to interfere with the 2016 presidential election. The opioid crisis was covered by a few outlets wondering who, exactly, is profiting while countless people are dying. But it is the investigations into sexual misconduct perpetrated by powerful men across several industries that has had the most significant impact in 2017. And much of the reporting has been led by The New York Times.

In early January, Times journalists Emily Steel and Michael S. Schmidt reported that Fox News had spent millions of dollars to settle sexual harassment allegations against Bill O’Reilly. By April, the two reporters began publishing stories on a near-daily basis: O’Reilly continued to thrive at Fox News despite five women coming forward with allegations against him; advertisers announced they were withdrawing their ads from O’Reilly’s show because of the Times reports; President Trump defended O’Reilly and was immediately criticized; 21st Century Fox enlisted a law firm to investigate a harassment claim against O’Reilly. In the third week of April, after all this rigorous reporting, O’Reilly was finally forced out at Fox News.

O’Reilly’s fall was a catalyst for a long-needed house cleaning at the media corporation. In May, the Times reported that Fox News co-president Bill Shine was also forced out, accused in several lawsuits of covering up the scandals at the network and dismissing concerns from women who spoke out.

A shift appeared to be transpiring: Institutions that had customarily protected their own interests by insulating men in power and enabling their abusive behavior began taking allegations more seriously (and it is important to note here, with clear evidence from the settlements that have been made public, that it’s not that women haven’t come forward to report abuse in the past, but that their concerns have been routinely shrugged off, and that they’ve been silenced).

* * *

Below is a (comprehensive, but not complete) list of men who have been accused of sexual misconduct, and the reporters and news outlets who broke the news and helped brave victims tell their stories:

Flynn: Sex abuse report wrong to target Catholic rites

Boston Herald

December 17, 2017

By Ray Flynn

The Vatican is vowing to closely review the findings of a scathing report released last week by Australia’s Royal Commission that blames “catastrophic failures of leadership” within the Catholic Church for the institutional sexual abuse of children by priests over a 90-year period.

In response to the findings, the Vatican reiterated its commitment to helping the victims find healing and justice but didn’t comment on the commission’s 189 recommendations. They included a request that the Holy See consider allowing voluntary celibacy among clergy members and punishing priests who fail to report those who admit to abusing kids during the rite of confession.

I think most fair and objective people, including many Catholics, would agree that the failure to protect children from pedophile priests was an abomination. They’ll also tell you that the Catholic Church has made great progress in ensuring the atrocities committed by predatory priests are never repeated.

But it’s clear to me that there’s no link between celibacy and the sexual abuse of kids and I believe the sanctity of the confessional must be protected.

Transfieren a una prisión estatal a exsacerdote Feit

El Mañana

December 17, 2017

By Carlos Espriella

[John Feit will be transferred to the Byrd Unit prison in Huntsville TX]

Edinburg, Tx.- El exsacerdote John Feit será transferido a una prisión estatal a principios de la próxima semana, luego de ser encontrado culpable de la muerte de la maestra Irene Garza en 1960 y sentenciado a cadena perpetua.

Las autoridades del Sheriff del Condado Hidalgo confirmaron que agentes y personal médico transportarán al ex sacerdote a la Unidad Byrd en Huntsville en los próximos días.

Feit fue condenado a principios de este mes por el asesinato de Irene Garza, siendo sentenciado a cadena perpetua, dejando así el Valle del Río Grande después de casi dos años recluido en la Cárcel del Condado Hidalgo.

Diocese releases statement concerning allegation of sexual misconduct against Father Eric Gyan

Diocese of Baton Rouge Homepage

[Another version of this statement was posted here.]

On November 8, 2017, the Diocese of Baton Rouge received from a woman in her thirties a written allegation of sexual misconduct against a priest of this diocese, Fr. Eric Gyan, currently Pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Gonzales. The misconduct was alleged to have occurred in 1996 when the woman was a minor and Fr. Gyan was pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Brusly. This is the only such complaint the diocese has ever received about Fr. Gyan. The diocese’s victim assistance coordinator, Mrs. Amy Cordon, has spoken to the person making the allegation and offered assistance on behalf of the diocese. Following the diocese’s own Policy Regarding Sexual Abuse of Minors by an Employee when an allegation is made, and in compliance with the U.S. Bishops’ Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People, the diocese immediately notified civil officials of the allegation and assured them of our full cooperation. The diocese also informed the person who made the allegation that she had the right to contact civil officials. As required by canon law, and the aforementioned policies, trained professional lay persons were appointed by the diocese to conduct a preliminary inquiry into the matter. In addition, the Independent Review Board of the diocese was notified. The investigation is ongoing and to this point has not yielded any cause to remove Fr. Gyan from his current pastoral service. Fr. Gyan has categorically denied the allegation. The diocese takes such allegations very seriously. If anyone has information that can assist the diocese concerning this matter, please contact Mrs. Amy Cordon in the diocesan Victim Assistance Office at 225-242-0250.

Catholic prosecutor balanced faith, duty

Brownsville Herald

December 16, 2017

By Lorenzo Zazueta-Castro

Edinburg — Nearly one week removed from getting a conviction in a historic trial, even exhaling proved challenging.

After all, securing a conviction in what was arguably the region’s biggest trial proved much more complicated for the lead prosecutor on the case, a devout Catholic, considering that the person he was trying to convict was a former man of the cloth.

Michael J. Garza, an assistant district attorney for Hidalgo County and the man responsible for finally bringing ex-priest John Feit to justice, felt uneasy days after a jury found Feit guilty of murdering Irene Garza during the 1960 Holy Week.

The case was 57 years in the making and produced a trial that included evidence and testimony of a church-led coverup to avoid bad publicity. But even in the days after state District Judge Luis Singleterry hammered the gavel for the final time at trial, Michael Garza still struggled to pinpoint the uneasiness.

Former Fargo priest facing sexual abuse charges has been extradited

Bismarck Tribune

December 17, 2017

By Cheryl Diaz Meyer

Fargo – A former Fargo priest who faces child sexual abuse charges has been extradited from the Philippines to the United States.

Fernando Laude Sayasaya was extradited to face state child sexual abuse charges filed 15 years ago in Cass County District Court, U.S. Attorney Christopher C. Myers announced Friday. Sayasaya was arrested in the Philippines last month.

Sayasaya was an associate pastor at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo and at Blessed Sacrament in West Fargo. He was removed from his priestly duties in the Fargo Diocese in August 1998 after two brothers accused him of sexually assaulting them.

“This successful extradition is a result of twenty years of relentless police work by Det. Greg Warren of the West Fargo Police Department and Philippine authorities,” Myers said in a statement. “This case exemplifies the strong partnerships we have developed here in North Dakota and worldwide. We would like to express our gratitude for the cooperation provided by Philippine law enforcement agencies, including the National Bureau of Investigation, the Philippine National Police and the Philippines Department of Justice.”

Diocese of Baton Rouge announces inquiry into abuse claim against Gonzales church pastor

The Advocate

December 16, 2017

By Gordon Russell

The Diocese of Baton Rouge is investigating a complaint it received last month about sexual misconduct by a Gonzales parish priest that allegedly occurred in 1996, a church spokesman said.

The woman, who alerted church officials Nov. 8 about the alleged abuse by Father Eric Gyan, also recently contacted The Advocate about the case. After being contacted by the newspaper, the diocese late Saturday issued a news release saying that Gyan was the subject of the complaint and that it has begun an inquiry.

The complaint is the first one the diocese has received about Gyan, according to the statement. Gyan, who was ordained as a priest more than three decades ago, is now pastor of St. Theresa of Avila Parish in Gonzales.

So far, the diocese’s investigation “has not yielded any cause to remove Fr. Gyan from his current pastoral service,” the statement said, adding that Gyan “has categorically denied the allegation.”

The woman told The Advocate that Gyan forced her to perform sex acts on him on multiple occasions in 1996, when he was the pastor of St. John the Baptist Parish in Brusly and she was a 10-year-old parishioner there. The abuse occurred when she went to confession to him, according to the woman, who is now 31.

December 16, 2017

Headmaster of renowned Catholic school is accused of burning evidence into child sex abuse

Daily Mail

December 16, 2017

By Sophie Inge

- Father Leo Maidlow Davis burned staff files from Downside Abbey in 2012
- However, the monk claimed any destruction of evidence was unintentional
- The school was investigated in an independent inquiry into child sex abuse

The headmaster of a renowned Catholic school may have destroyed evidence of child sex abuse, it has been claimed.

Father Leo Maidlow Davis, 63, now the senior monk at Downside Abbey, burned staff files dating back to the early 1980s in a bonfire in 2012.

However, he claimed any destruction of evidence was unintentional, saying his aim had been simply to 'get rid of unnecessary old material'.

The fee-paying school in Radstock, Somerset, was examined as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA).

Downside head ‘may have burnt evidence of sexual abuse’

The Times

December 16, 2017

By Andrew Norfolk

Five years ago, the headmaster of a leading public school made trips with a loaded wheelbarrow to a distant part of its grounds, where he made a bonfire. Consumed in its flames were staff files dating back to the early 1980s.

Father Leo Maidlow Davis, 63, is today the senior monk at Downside Abbey. In 2012 he was in charge of its neighbouring boarding school. The fire may have destroyed evidence of child sexual abuse. The monk was one of the senior Benedictines who gave evidence during three weeks of hearings that ended yesterday at the independent inquiry into child sexual abuse.

* * *

At Ampleforth, about 40 monks and teachers have been accused of sexually abusing children since the 1960s. When police investigated sex offences at Downside in 2010, it emerged that “historic allegations and concerns” had been raised about 16 of its 23 monks.

The inquiry heard of a locked basement room at Downside, used by monks to watch personal videos. It learnt of brown envelopes containing allegations against monks that were locked in the abbot’s safe. Victims described childhood ordeals. Naked boys were taken into monks’ beds. Some were abused so often that it became routine. It was a world in which paedophiles flourished.

15 recommendations from the royal commission into child sexual abuse you should know about


December 15, 2017

The final report from the almost five-year royal commission into child sexual abuse was officially handed to the Governor-General this morning.

The document is tens of thousands of pages long, and contains a total of 409 recommendations which aim to make institutions safer for children.

Of those 409 recommendations, 189 recommendations are new today.

You can follow our live blog for updates as we continue to read through the report. But if you're strapped for time, here are some of the big ones you should know about.

John Feit to be Transferred to Huntsville

KRGV-TV Channel 5

December 15, 2017

Edinburg – John Feit will be transferred to a state-run prison early next week.

Hidalgo County Sheriff authorities confirmed deputies and medical staffers will transport the former priest to the Byrd Unit in Huntsville in the coming days.

Feit was convicted earlier this month for the murder of Irene Garza. He was sentenced to life in prison.

He will now leave the Rio Grande Valley after nearly two years in the Hidalgo County Jail.

Royal commission: The abused are many, and so are the dead, but do Church leaders really get it?


December 16, 2017

By Tom Keneally

In politics, it is rare that a mechanism for unqualified good is put in place.

A body called by the highly provisional title, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, might have proved to have been a squib if not given appropriate powers and if not well-led.

But it was given such powers, and like others, I was delighted to hear the Prime Minister refer to the completed hearings as "an outstanding exercise of love".

Now the Federal Government, the states and the institutions have to apply themselves to its recommendations with similar exercises of generosity of spirit.

I have been asked to record here a sense of the impact of the royal commission at a personal level. In fact, the commission has also been a revelation even to those of us who had earlier heard the subterranean reverberations of a national crisis, but had no idea of the scope of it.

The scale of the abuse, even the numbers of abusers, were greater than was ever suspected.

But then, at least as shocking, the fact that behind each abuser was a corps of friendly agents, people in authority, moderators of the public conscience who yet showed no conscience over misuse of children.

Australia and Catholic Church ‘Failed’ Abused Children, Inquiry Finds

New York Times

December 14, 2017

By Jacqueline Williams

Sydney, Australia — A royal commission investigating the sexual abuse of children in Australia found Friday that the nation was gripped by an epidemic dating back decades, with tens of thousands of children sexually abused in schools, religious organizations and other institutions.

The commission, the highest form of investigation in Australia, urged government action on its 189 recommendations, including the establishment of a new National Office for Child Safety and penalties for those who suspect abuse and fail to alert the police, including priests who hear about abuse in confessionals. It also urged Australia’s Roman Catholic leadership to press Rome to end mandatory celibacy for priests.

“Tens of thousands of children have been sexually abused in many Australian institutions,” said the report, which was particularly critical of Catholic organizations. “We will never know the true number. Whatever the number, it is a national tragedy, perpetrated over generations within many of our most trusted institutions.”

Australian probe into child abuse attacks Catholic celibacy

Associated Press via Washington Post

 December 15, 2017

By Rod McGuirk

An Australian inquiry into child abuse recommended Friday that the Catholic Church lift its demand of celibacy from clergy and that priests be prosecuted for failing to report evidence of pedophilia heard in the confessional.

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its final 17-volume report and 189 recommendations following a wide-ranging investigation. Australia’s longest-running royal commission — which is the country’s highest form of inquiry — has been investigating since 2012 how the Catholic Church and other institutions responded to sexual abuse of children in Australia over 90 years.

The report heard the testimonies of more than 8,000 survivors of child sex abuse. Of those who were abused in religious institutions, 62 percent were Catholics.

“We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades,” the report said.

Recommendations include that the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference request that the Vatican consider introducing voluntary celibacy for clergy.

It said the bishops’ body should also request clarity on whether information received in the confessional that a child has been sexually abused is covered by the seal of secrecy and whether absolution of a perpetrator should be withdrawn until the perpetrator confesses to police.

Catholic Church ‘a cesspit’ of lack of accountability, says abuse survivor

The Australian

December 16, 2017

By Tessa Akerman

Stephen Wood finds it hard to believe the church that harboured his childhood abusers for decades will willingly accept the royal commission’s recommendations to protect other children.

Mr Wood, who was abused by notorious pedophile priest ­Gerald Ridsdale and two Christian Brothers while a child in a Balla­rat school, yesterday said the Catholic Church had a poor history of child safety and would likely not adopt all the recommendations. “It’s a cesspit of lack of ­accountability,” he said.

“It’s really just protecting their powerbase.”

Mr Wood, a spokesman for Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, said the church saw itself as “sacrosanct” and sought to protect religious dogma such as canon law, which was not included in the Bible.

“These are only man-made rules and traditions,” he said. “If this was a non-religious organisation, it would be shut down.”

The royal commission looked at the experiences of 6875 abuse survivors. The majority of survivors, 64.3 per cent, were male and more than half were aged between 10 and 14 when they were first sexually abused.

The average duration of child sexual abuse experienced in institutions was 2.2 years, 36.3 per cent of survivors said they were abused by multiple perpetrators and 93.8 per cent of survivors said they were abused by a male.

Victims’ advocate Chrissie Foster said the recommen­dations had to be implemented despite opposition. “This canon law is not a law, it’s like a football club’s rules,” she said.

“This is the forcing on them, our civil law changing them ­because they won’t.”

Ms Foster and her late ­husband, Anthony, played a key role in raising awareness of child sex abuse by clergy after two of their daughters were abused by local priest Kevin O’Donnell.

Yeshiva abuse survivor Manny Waks said the royal commission had brought child sexual abuse into the open. “From my perspective, the ­Jewish community has had a monumental shift in the way ­issues of child abuse are ­addressed. Reports and findings and revelations … out of the royal commission really did change attitudes in the community.”

Holy See Press Office Communiqué

Vatican Press Office

December 15, 2017

The final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse in Australia is the result of the Commission’s thorough efforts over the past several years, and deserves to be studied seriously.

The Holy See remains committed to being close to the Catholic Church in Australia – lay faithful, religious, and clergy alike – as they listen to and accompany victims and survivors in an effort to bring about healing and justice.

In his recent meeting with the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, Pope Francis said the Church is called to be a place of compassion, especially for those who have suffered, and reaffirmed that the Church is committed to safe environments for the protection of all children and vulnerable adults.

Vatican says royal commission findings deserve to 'be studied seriously’

The Guardian

December 15, 2017

[See also the Final Report of the Royal Commission, including Volume 16 on Religious Institutions.]

Holy see says it will support Australian church as it listens to and accompanies victims and survivors ‘in an effort to bring about healing and justice’

The Vatican and Australia’s Catholic leaders say they will seriously consider the royal commission’s call for sweeping reforms, although archbishops refuse to break the seal of confession to reveal child abuse.

It will be up to the Pope and his advisers to consider many of the inquiry’s far-reaching recommendations, including changes to canon law and voluntary celibacy for its priests.

The government of the Roman Catholic church, the Holy See, says the commission’s final report “deserves to be studied seriously”.

“The Holy See remains committed to being close to the Catholic church in Australia – lay faithful, religious, and clergy alike – as they listen to and accompany victims and survivors in an effort to bring about healing and justice,” it said in a statement.

The royal commission recommended a number of changes to canon law, finding the disciplinary system for dealing with clergy and religious who sexually abuse children contributed to the church’s failure to provide an effective and timely response to perpetrators.

Priest led away in handcuffs after judge hands down 1-year sentence for sexual contact with child

Journal Sentinel

December 15, 2017

By Ashley Luthern

It started when she was in first grade, when she still had her baby teeth.

Robert Marsicek, a priest she trusted, repeatedly molested her at a Catholic school in Wauwatosa.

"My little self thought it was OK and I thought that this was normal," she said.

The girl, now 16, told a Milwaukee County Circuit Court judge how she cried herself to sleep or didn't sleep at all. She developed anxiety. She thought of hurting herself, even ending her life.

"I began to realize that he chose this for himself," she said. "He did this to me and I did not ask for it."

She asked Judge Mark A. Sanders to put Marsicek behind bars, even though prosecutors had recommended probation as part of a plea agreement.

Legal group adds to list of Brooklyn priests named in child abuse cases

Brooklyn Daily Eagle

December 16, 2017

By Mary Frost

Brooklyn Diocese accuses group of pushing unproven names ahead of settlement deadline

A report sent to media outlets by an attorney group on Thursday details abuse allegations against 65 priests at the Brooklyn Diocese, including eight priests who have never been publicly identified as abusers.

The report comes out just days before a filing deadline to receive compensation provided by the diocese to abuse victims.

Former Fargo priest accused of child sexual abuse extradited to United States

Valley News

December 16, 2017

A former Fargo priest charged with child sexual abuse in Cass County has been arrested in the Philippines and extradited to the United States.

The charges, filed against Fernando Laude Sayasaya in Cass County District Court in December 2002, allege the offenses took place between July 1995 and June 1997 for one victim, and June 1997 through August 1998 for another victim.

Sayasaya, who served as a priest in the Fargo Diocese from 1995 to August 1998, was removed from priestly ministry after allegations of abuse were reported.

A federal indictment was returned against Sayasaya for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution on Jan. 7, 2003, when he failed to return to the United States following a visit to the Philippines in 1998.

Sayasaya was ordered extradited by a court in the Philippines on Dec. 28, 2010, and appealed that order.

December 15, 2017

Anglican church 'rushed to judgment' in George Bell child abuse case

The Guardian

December 15, 2017

By Harriet Sherwood

Lord Carlile report says Church of England was wrong to accept claims of alleged victim against former bishop ‘without sufficient investigations’

The Church of England has been criticised for a “rush to judgment” in its handling of allegations of sexual abuse against one its most revered figures of the 20th century in a highly damaging independent inquiry.

The report by Lord Carlile, released on Friday, said that although the church acted in good faith, its processes were deficient and it failed to give proper consideration to the rights of the accused.

The findings, which the church has made public two months after receiving them, concerned claims made against George Bell, the former bishop of Chichester, who died in 1958. A woman now in her 70s alleged that Bell had abused her in the bishop’s palace over a period of four years, starting when she was five years old.

In 2015, the church issued a formal public apology and paid £16,800 to the woman, known as Carol. Its statement triggered furious protests among Bell’s supporters, who said his reputation had been trashed, the evidence against him was thin and that he could not defend himself from beyond the grave.

The church commissioned Carlile last year to review its processes in the case. Speaking at a press conference on Friday, he said Bell had been “hung out to dry” and there were “many errors” in the church process. There were preconceptions about the outcome of the process and “therefore obvious lines of inquiry were not followed”.

The case bore “some of the hallmarks of the unacceptable way accusations against Lord Bramall and the late Lord Brittan were dealt with”, he added.

His report concluded that the “core group” established by the church to consider the claims “failed to follow a process that was fair and equitable to both sides”.

It’s not about celibacy: Blaming the wrong thing for sexual abuse in the church

America Magazine

December 15, 2017

By James Martin, SJ

On Friday Dec. 15 an Australian commission assigned to investigate child sexual abuse recommended that the Catholic Church lift its demand of celibacy from clergy and that priests be prosecuted for failing to report evidence of pedophilia heard in the confessional. In 2010, Father James Martin wrote an article making the case why celibacy is not to blame for sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

Many factors underlie the sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church. Here is an extremely brief (and therefore incomplete) summary. First, improper screening of candidates for seminaries led to some psychologically sick men being ordained as priests. When some bishops received reports of sexual abuse, the reports were tragically downplayed, dismissed or ignored. Second, the crimes of sexual abuse often went unreported to civil authorities, out of a misguided concern among church officials for “avoiding scandal,” the fear of litigation, or an unwillingness to confront the abusive priest. Third, grossly misunderstanding the severity of the effects of abuse, overly relying on advice from psychologists regarding rehabilitation, and privileging the concerns of priests over the pastoral care for victims, some bishops moved abusive priests from one parish to another where they repeatedly offended.

That is an enormous simplification that leaves out many important causes. In general, though, that is a fair summary of some underlying reasons for these crimes. (Note that I say “reasons” and not “excuses.” There are no excuses for these crimes.)

In an abbreviated form, this was also the conclusion of an extensive study by the National Review Board, an independent group of Catholic laypersons who reported to the U.S. Catholic bishops in the wake of the abuse crisis that engulfed the American Church beginning in 2002. The board’s analysis led to the “zero-tolerance” policy adopted by the American hierarchy.

Ballarat's Catholic Bishop open to stripping parish priests of power over schools

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 15, 2017

By Charlotte King

The Ballarat Catholic Diocese says it is open to a recommendation from the child sexual abuse royal commission that parish priests be stripped of their power over schools.

The diocese has been referred to as the epicentre of child sexual abuse, with hundreds of victims.

Earlier this month, the royal commission released its damning report into the Ballarat Catholic Diocese, describing its handling of clergy child sex abuse as a "catastrophic failure of leadership".

The commissioners found a culture of secrecy and failures in the church's structure led to children being abused across the diocese over a number of decades.

"That failure led to the suffering and often irreparable harm to children, their families and the wider community," the report stated.

Catholic schools have featured more than any other institution in the number of child sexual abuse complaints.

When one of the nation's most prolific paedophiles, Gerald Ridsdale was made parish priest of Mortlake in western Victoria, he had been sexually assaulting children for almost a decade.

The 1981 appointment put him at the helm of the local parish primary school, St Colman's.

For abuse survivor Rob Walsh, the fight for justice doesn't end with the royal commission

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 15, 2017

By Danny Tran

It was an emotional day for many as the royal commission handed down its final report, in all 17 volumes, after five long years of investigation.

But for at least one survivor of child abuse, Rob Walsh, today doesn't mark the end of a long campaign for justice.

He will be travelling to the nation's capital to campaign for all of the royal commission's recommendations to be implemented.

Mr Walsh was abused as a boy in Ballarat by two of Australia's most notorious paedophiles, Gerald Ridsdale and Robert Best.

He said he has been heartened by the inquiry's almost 200 separate proposals, but is sceptical of the Catholic Church's response.

Priest accused of sexually assaulting girl at Wauwatosa school to be sentenced

FOX6 Now

December 15, 2017

By Trisha Bee

MILWAUKEE — A long-time priest accused of repeatedly sexually assaulting an elementary school aged girl in Wauwatosa will be sentenced Friday, December 15th.

76-year-old Robert Marsicek pleaded guilty on Monday, October 23rd to three amended counts of fourth-degree sexual assault (a misdemeanor). Marsicek was initially charged with three counts of first-degree child sexual assault – contact with a child under age 13.

Marsicek, known to many as Father Bob, was charged in connection with events that allegedly took place at St. Pius X Grade School in Wauwatosa. The alleged molestation took place from 2007 through 2010.

In December 2016, a 15-year-old girl went to Wauwatosa police to discuss allegations that she was sexually assaulted by Marsicek.

Former Catholic school teacher accused of sexual abuse

The Guam Daily Post

December 15, 2017

By Mindy Aguon

A former San Vicente Catholic School teacher has been named in a new child sex abuse lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of Guam yesterday.

S.L.H., 36, who used initials to protect his identity, alleges he was repeatedly sexually abused while attending the Catholic school from 1994 to 1996.

He alleges Michael J. Unpingco, his former math and homeroom teacher, was a trusted mentor and friend who began taking S.L.H. for meals to restaurants and giving him special math tutoring when he was in the sixth grade at the age of 12.

Lawsuit details abuse

The lawsuit states Unpingco began sexually molesting and raping S.L.H. on a weekly and sometimes daily basis. On repeated occasions the boy would ask Unpingco to stop abusing him sexually; however, it's alleged that Unpingco used various "manipulative techniques" and did not stop the abuse.

Unpingco, on frequent occasions, told S.L.H. he should permit the sexual abuse because of all the personal favors he did for the boy, in an effort to make him feel guilty, court documents state.

Suburban man charged with sexually abusing children while working with Catholic group in South America

Chicago Tribune

December 15, 2017

By Nereida Moreno and Matthew Walberg

Jeffery Daniels left his native Peru in 2001, moved to the U.S., married and started a family, leaving behind the elite Catholic society he’d spent years with for a life in the quiet north Chicago suburb of Antioch.

Now, in the wake of an explosive report issued earlier this year, Peruvian prosecutors have charged Daniels and three other men in connection with alleged sexual abuse that occurred at the Sodalitium Christianae Vitae in Lima.

Peruvian prosecutors could not be reached for comment, but attorney Hector Gadea, who represents the alleged victims, said the four men were charged with conspiracy to commit sexual, physical and psychological abuse.

Gadea said prosecutors have asked a judge to order the men’s arrests and detention for nine months while authorities continue their investigation into members of the organization, also known as the SCV.

The charges were confirmed by an aide to Peruvian Congressman Alberto de Belaunde, who added that Daniels and the other men — including Luis Fernando Figari, the SCV’s founder and former leader — allegedly took advantage of their "proximity to minors and young adults" to abuse followers, most of whom were young men or boys.

Daniels has told local U.S. authorities that he denies the allegations. But de Belaunde, who serves on the nation’s Commission of Justice and Human Rights, applauded the charges.

Royal commission: Celibacy and confessional overhaul proposed in child sex abuse findings

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 15, 2017

By Riley Stuart, Bellinda Kontominas and staff

Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne Denis Hart has said he does not fully support some of the 189 new recommendations delivered by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The sanctity of the religious confessional would be tossed aside and celibacy would become voluntary under the new recommendations, many of which are aimed at making children safer.

In what would be a shake-up of centuries of tradition, the recommendations called for an overhaul of confessional, with religious ministers forced to report any child sexual abuse revealed to them.

But Archbishop Hart says he does not support any changes to confession that would force a priest to report information to authorities.

Catholic Church Singled Out In Australian Sex Abuse Report


December 15, 2017

By Scott Neuman

In a far-reaching report on child sex abuse in Australia, a government commission is recommending that the country's Catholic Church lift its celibacy requirement for diocesan clergy and be required to report evidence of abuse revealed in confession.

Those are among the 400 recommendations contained in the 17-volume final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which is wrapping up a five-year investigation – the longest in Australia's history.

"We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades," the report said.

The Australian reports: "More than 15,000 people contacted the commission to share their experiences of abuse, more than 8,000 of them spoke personally with the commissioner about the trauma it caused, and approximately 2,500 cases have now been referred to police."

The commission said the church failed to properly address allegations and concerns of victims, calling the Church's response to them "remarkably and disturbingly similar."

The report also detailed abuse in churches of other denominations and at such institutions as schools and sports clubs. However, it concluded that the greatest number of alleged abuse perpetrators were found in Catholic institutions. The commission has concluded that 7 percent of priests who worked in Australia between 1950 and 2009 had been accused of child sex abuse.

Among the report's recommendations:

— A national strategy to prevent child abuse, with a national office of child safety.

— Making failure to protect a child from risk of abuse within an institution a criminal offense on the state and territory level.

— Implementing preventative training for children in schools and early childhood center.

— A requirement that candidates for religious ministry undergo external psychological testing.

— Any person in a religious ministry subject to a substantiated child sex abuse complaint should be permanently removed from the ministry.

Currently, Australian law exempts confessional evidence from the rules that apply to other kinds of evidence in court, according to The National Catholic Register.

'I've seen the anguish': WA archbishop addresses sex abuse findings


December 15 2017

By Hannah Barry

Archbishop Timothy Costelloe says the Catholic Church in WA "must act" in order to address concerns of child sex abuse within its institutions after the Royal Commission handed down its final report on Friday.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse delivered its report to the Governor General of Australia and made 198 recommendations aimed at better protecting children from sexual abuse in Australia.

Archbishop Costelloe told Radio 6PR it was to his "great shame and horror" the Catholic Church featured heavily in the investigations.

Australian Report Urges Vatican to Reject Celibacy, Rethink Secret Confessions

The Wall Street Journal

December 15, 2017

By Robb M. Stewart

Child sex abuse inquiry found tens of thousands of victims across many Australian institutions; the Catholic Church the worst offender

SYDNEY—An Australian investigation into decades of child sexual abuse, involving tens of thousands of victims, called for sweeping changes in the Catholic Church and other organizations, including making celibacy voluntary for clergy and forcing ministers to report abuse concerns that come to light through confession.

The broad-ranging probe urged Australia’s Catholic Church to request the Vatican make changes to canon law, including removing limits on the time in which the church can take action on child sexual abuse cases, as well as removing a requirement to destroy documents relating to criminal cases in matters of morals.

It recommended the government make it a criminal offense to fail to report knowledge or suspicions of abuse disclosed in a religious confession.

The report said confession had “contributed to both the occurrence of child sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and to inadequate institutional responses to abuse.”

“Church leaders have viewed child sexual abuse as a sin to be dealt with through private absolution and penance rather than as a crime to be reported to police. The sacrament of reconciliation enabled perpetrators to resolve their sense of guilt without fear of being reported,” it said.

In response, Catholic Archbishop of Sydney Anthony Fisher warned against making changes to confession. He said focusing “on something like confession is a distraction.”

Catholic Church pressed to lift celibacy, dime out confessing abusers

The Washington Times

December 15, 2017

By Cheryl K. Chumley


The Catholic Church, as everybody knows, has a problem with its priests preying on little children, and with its higher-ups covering up the sexual abuse scandals.

So a new report in Australia is recommending the church lift its celibacy requirements for the diocesan clergy — the idea being that if these members of the church could have sex with, say, wives, they wouldn’t be chasing after the choir boys.

This makes practical sense.

After all, hasn’t the abuse of children within the church gone on long enough?

Australian Catholic leaders reject key calls by child abuse inquiry


December 15, 2017

By Ben Westcott and Lucie Morris-Marr

(CNN)Senior leaders in Australia's Catholic church have rejected calls by a wide-reaching investigation into child abuse to end mandatory celibacy for priests and break the secrecy of confession.

The Australian Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which concluded Thursday after five years of work, delivered a total of 189 new recommendations to address what it described as a "serious failure" by Australia's institutions to protect its most vulnerable citizens.

The landmark report estimates tens of thousands of children have been abused in Australian institutions, in what the commission described as a "national tragedy."

"We now know that countless thousands of children have been sexually abused in many institutions in Australia. In many institutions, multiple abusers have sexually abused children," the report said.

"We must accept that institutional child sexual abuse has been occurring for generations."



December 15, 2017

By Grace Guarnieri

A five-year investigation of thousands of child abuse victims in Australia has led to one stunning recommendation: that the Catholic Church should allow priests to have sex in order to curb child abuse.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse reviewed more than 8,000 cases since 2013, and found that schoolteachers and religious ministers accounted for the most child abuse complaints. Catholic priests accounted for 61.4 percent of the alleged religious perpetrators.

With that stat in mind, the final report released Friday offered hundreds of recommendations, including an end to the Catholic Church's centuries-old policy for compulsory celibacy, The Sydney Morning Herald reported.

Former church worker jailed for child sex abuse images

Sea Coast Online

December 14, 2017

By Max Sullivan

BRENTWOOD -- A former maintenance supervisor at Bethany Church in Greenland was sentenced to prison last week for possessing images of children being sexually abused.

Ronald Nekoroski, 69, of 2 Maple Ridge Road, Seabrook, pleaded guilty Nov. 29 to two counts of possessing child sexual abuse images in Rockingham Superior Court.

Nekoroski was sentenced to 3 to 6 years in New Hampshire State Prison, according to court records. He also received a suspended prison sentence of 7½ to 15 years and must participate in the state’s sex offender program as part of the plea deal.

Nekoroski was arrested Jan. 3 this year after police found images depicting sexual child abuse on laptops, hard drives and USB thumb drives in his home. He was indicted in April on six felony counts of possession of child sexual abuse images by a Rockingham County grand jury.

Roman Catholic Church should end priest celibacy, report sex abuse: Aussie panel

Fox News

December 15, 2017

An Australian inquiry into child abuse could rock the Roman Catholic Church.

The panel on Friday called on the church to repeal its celibacy requirement for priests, and said clergy should face prosecution if they fail to report evidence of pedophilia heard in the confessional.

Australia’s Royal Commission into Institution Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its 17-volume report and made almost 200 recommendations following a five-year investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions responded to sexual abuse of children in Australia over 90 years.

The Royal Commission is the country’s highest form of inquiry and the voluminous report it produced followed testimony from more than 8,000 survivors of child sex abuse.

Sixty-two percent of those abused in religious institutions were Catholic, the study found. Catholicism is the largest denomination in majority-Christian Australia.

“We have concluded that there were catastrophic failures of leadership of Catholic Church authorities over many decades,” the report said.

St. Anne’s survivors rally to have their voices heard at court hearing

APTN National News

December 14, 2017

By Beverly Andrews

The residential school experience comes to life each time a survivor tells their story.

But survivors of St. Anne’s residential school in Fort Albany, Ontario are in a fight to even get their stories out.

They held a rally in Toronto where their testimony is being suppressed.

Sexual abuse survivors group of ‘Spotlight’ fame calls on Mormon church to change interview system

The Salt Lake Tribune

December 14, 2017

By Peggy Fletcher Stack

The prominent support group that helped expose widespread sexual abuse by Catholic priests is calling on the LDS Church to discontinue its practice of male bishops interviewing young Mormons behind closed doors.

Such conversations — sometimes about intimate sexual matters — are “a recipe for abuse,” said Joelle Casteix, the Western regional leader for SNAP, Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. “They should be stopped.”

Considered the oldest and largest support group for victims of sexual abuse in institutional settings, SNAP’s efforts were featured in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight.”

Predators thrive “in a system like the LDS Church has,” Casteix, an abuse-prevention expert and a survivor herself, said Thursday in an interview. “This is not a safe environment for children.”

No other “reputable institutional church, private or public school, sports group, youth-serving organization, or community center allows one-on-one meetings between adults and children,” she said in a news release. “Why is the LDS Church endorsing this horrible practice?”

December 14, 2017

A national compensation scheme for abuse victims was supposed to be up and running by now. Why isn't it?

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 14, 2017

By Samantha Donovan

In 2015, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse recommended a national redress scheme for victims of institutional child sexual abuse be up and running by mid-2017 "at the latest".

But the $4 billion scheme is still not in place.

The Federal Government has introduced a bill into Parliament, but the states and territories are reluctant to sign up to the proposed scheme.

And the major institutions which will pay the compensation to survivors are waiting to see what the states do.

Which leaves around 60,000 Australians anxiously waiting for their chance to apply for compensation.

Michigan State Can't Bury Its Role In The Largest Sex Abuse Scandal In Sports History


December 14, 2017

By Dvora Meyers

This past March, Michigan State University trustee Joel Ferguson told Michigan’s WXYZ-TV that “MSU is going to look great” after an internal investigation into how the school handled sexual assault allegations against Larry Nassar. For all that we still do not know about Nassar’s crimes or the institutional cover-ups that allowed them to continue, we do know this: Nassar will almost certainly spend the rest of his life in jail for decades of offenses against hundreds of athletes, most of them young gymnasts. He was sentenced to 60 years for federal child pornography charges last week and will be sentenced on state level criminal sexual conduct charges next month. The former physician for Michigan State and USA Gymnastics is the most prolific sex criminal in sports history.

But, as of now, there is no way to know how MSU and their actions appear in that internal Michigan State review on how the school handled sexual abuse allegations against Nassar. If the report even exists—and a letter released this week by Patrick Fitzgerald, the former U.S. attorney who is representing the school, suggests that it does not—the university has no plans to release it. MSU spokesperson Jason Cody has repeatedly asserted that the findings of the review were “never designed to end in a report.”

Until very recently, USA Gymnastics has received most of the critical coverage when it came to Nassar’s sexual abuse of gymnasts. And deservedly so: journalists and victims have cited the national governing body’s failure to properly supervise how Nassar provided medical “treatment” at the national team training center and on the road at competitions, the complicity of its board of directors, the prioritization of medals ahead of athlete well-being. In the year and change since the Indianapolis Star first broke the Nassar story back in September 2016, Steve Penny was forced to resign as CEO of USA Gymnastics in March. Former Olympic gymnasts and national team members testified before a Senate committee about their experiences as young athletes. (USA Gymnastics did not send a representative to this hearing.) And Olympic stars like Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney have recently come forward and said that they were abused by Nassar and denounced how USA Gymnastics looked after them when they were minor gymnasts competing on the national team. None of this criticism is disproportionate. But there is another, much larger institution that has, until now, mostly escaped repercussions in the Nassar case—Michigan State.

The monks who stole my childhood

The Sunday Times

December 10, 2017

By Stephen Bleach

Forty years ago, I was just one of the pupils beaten and molested by a teacher at a top Catholic school. Last week I saw him convicted of a litany of abuse — and I wept

Four decades on I can still remember his hand on my backside. It didn’t bother me much at the time: I was too scared of what was coming next. If you haven’t been beaten with a cane by somebody who really enjoys doing it, it’s hard to describe how much it hurts.

Afterwards I straightened up, tearful and shaky. The man stood in his black Benedictine monk’s robes, cane still in hand, a kindly, almost embarrassed expression on his face. “That wasn’t so bad, was it?” he said. Whether he meant the caning or his furtive, five-second grope as I bent over his office chair, I couldn’t tell. After all, I was only 13.

That man was Andrew Soper, although I knew him by his Benedictine name of Father Laurence.
He was one of my teachers during the 1970s at St Benedict’s in Ealing, west London — a Catholic school that was recently described as having been “one of Britain’s most notorious dens of paedophilia”.

Last week I looked down at him standing in the dock at the Old Bailey, where he was found guilty on 19 counts of child sexual abuse including buggery, indecency with a child and indecent assault.

Soper taught me maths. Rather well — I got an A at O-level. He also taught me that the world was a dangerous place. He used beating as a sadistic ruse to gain sexual gratification, the court was told. In other words, he got off on it.

Well, obviously. You didn’t need an O-level to know that.



December 14, 2017

The head of the royal commission that exposed decades of inaction and cover-ups of child sexual abuse wants the leaders of Australian institutions to set aside any resentment and enact real change.

Victims and child protection advocates say the job is far from over after the end of the $500 million five-year inquiry, demanding immediate action from governments, churches, charities and other organisations that failed children so badly.

Commission chair Justice Peter McClellan said many institutions and government agencies now accept they failed and must make changes, but also warned of possible holdouts.

"There may be leaders and members of some institutions who resent the intrusion of the royal commission into their affairs," Justice McClellan told the inquiry's final sitting in Sydney on Thursday.

"However, if the problems we have identified are to be adequately addressed, changes must be made.

"There must be changes in the culture, structure and governance practices of many institutions."

After exposing a national tragedy involving tens of thousands of children being sexually abused over decades in more than 4000 institutions, the royal commission will recommend widespread changes by governments and organisations.

It will be up to governments and institutions to implement the recommendations in the commission's final report to be released on Friday, which will add to its existing calls for reforms in the criminal and civil justice systems.

Survivor Joan Isaacs said the royal commission left no stone unturned in identifying the horrific nature and extent of institutional abuse and the sheer scale of cover-ups.

"The job of the commission is done, but the journey is not over. There is much to do," she said.

From darkness, a light starts to shine

The Newcastle Herald

December 14, 2017

By Ian Kirkwood

ALMOST five years have elapsed since the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse began its processes in 2013.

Although it has been a truly national inquiry, Newcastle Herald readers will know that a lot of the events that led to the commission took place in this part of the world. Indeed, a lot of the reporting that played a major role in putting pressure on the federal government to commission the inquiry came from the Herald and its Shine the Light campaign spearheaded by Gold Walkley-winning journalist Joanne McCarthy. But the Hunter’s role in the road to the royal commission did not start with Joanne.

It began with another formidable Herald writer, Jeff Corbett, whose reporting of court cases involving now notorious Catholic Hunter paedophiles including Vince Ryan and Jim Fletcher earned the repeated ire of the bishop of the day, Michael Malone.

CofE set to publish report into handling of George Bell 'abuse' case – but will it satisfy critics?

Christian Today

December 14, 2017

By James Macintyre

The Church of England is expected tomorrow to publish an independent report into its handling of an abuse claim against the late George Bell, the former Bishop of Chichester, after keen anticipation from his supporters that is likely only partially to be satisfied.

While critics of the Church are confident that the report is likely to be highly critical of procedures, any examination of the terms of reference makes clear that there will be no call for an apology from the CofE nor, crucially, any judgment on whether allegations from Bishop Bell's accuser are true or untrue.

The objectives of the review as set out in the terms of reference are merely to ensure that lessons are learnt from past practice; survivors are listened to, taken seriously and supported; good practice is identified and disseminated; and recommendations are made to help the Church embed best practice in safeguarding children and adults in the future.

The Church is said to be bracing itself for criticism when it comes to past practice, but expectations among Bell's fiercest defenders may be dashed.

In 2015 the Bishop of Chichester issued a formal apology following the settlement of a legal civil claim regarding allegations of sexual abuse by the late Bishop Bell, who was Bishop of Chichester from 1929 until shortly before his death in 1958.

In November last year, the Church announced the Carlile review which it said was aimed at investigating 'the processes surrounding the allegations which were first brought in 1995 to the diocese of Chichester, with the same allegations brought again, this time to Lambeth Palace, in 2013.' The Church added at the time: 'It will also consider the processes, including the commissioning of independent expert reports and archival and other investigations, which were used to inform the decision to settle the case, in order to learn lessons which can applied to the handling of similar safeguarding cases in future.'

Some critics, led by the Mail on Sunday journalist Peter Hitchens, have accused the Church of 'delaying' publication of the report from the review by Lord Carlile of Berriew into lessons learnt from the case, which was delivered on October 7.

Progress on abuse reporting measure

The Sun Chronicle

December 14, 2017

By Rick Foster

FOXBORO — Leaders of a local effort to expand reporting of suspected sexual abuse of children say they’re feeling good about chances of getting state legislators to take action on a bill this year.

Members of a local committee formed to combat sexual abuse testified before the Joint Committee on Children, Families and Persons with Disabilities last week on the bill that would broaden mandated reporting of suspected abuse to include a wide range of people who work with children, including volunteer coaches.

The bill is the legacy of reported sexual victimization of children by a teacher and volunteer swim coach locally and in Florida over more than two decades. Former Foxboro resident William Sheehan, who also served as a scoutmaster, has been accused of assaulting dozens of children during that time.

However, it was decades before Sheehan’s alleged crimes were reported.

Local officials including state Rep. Jay Barrows, R-Mansfield, who filed the bill said they believed they got a sympathetic reception from the legislative committee.

“I think we all left with a sense that the members present were supportive,” said Rev. William Dudley, who testified he was assaulted by Sheehan as a child. “Chairman (Kay) Kahn seemed very much so, as did another representative to her left. Jay explained it will be a slog to get there, but we left feeling quite upbeat.”

Police Lt. Richard Noonan was equally pleased with the reception.

Bond denied for Quincy pastor facing sex abuse charges in Virginia


December 14, 2017

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. -- Bond was denied for a Quincy pastor and former Marine colonel who faces multiple sex abuse crimes in Virginia.

WAVY-TV in Portsmouth reported that Todd Shane Tomko, 54, was denied bond during his appearance Wednesday in Virginia Beach General District Court.

Tomko was arrested Nov. 22 in Quincy on Virginia Beach warrants issued on three counts of aggravated sexual battery, three counts of indecent liberties with a child, and one count of felony cruelty to children.

Prosecutors said in court that Tomko made children watch pornography and learn sexual acts when they were as young as 4 years old, and then carried out sexual acts when they were older. The incidents allegedly occurred in Virginia Beach starting in 2002, police said.

A Quincy native, Tomko enlisted in the Marine Corps in 1983. He has been pastor of Parkview Church, 1500 S. Eighth, since his 2016 retirement from the military. The station reported that prosecutors said the charges were based on information from three accusers who knew Tomko was working with children at the Quincy church.

'Nobody saved us': Man describes childhood in abusive 'cult'

The Associated Press

December 13, 2017

By Mitch Weiss and Holbrook Mohr

SPINDALE, N.C. — Jamey Anderson vividly recalls being a skinny kid trembling on the floor of a dank, windowless storage room, waiting in terror for the next adult to open the door.

He was bruised and exhausted after being held down while a group of Word of Faith Fellowship congregants — including his mother and future stepfather — beat him with a wooden paddle, he said. As with most punishments at the secretive Christian church, Anderson said, it was prompted by some vague accusation: He had sin in his heart, or he had given in to the “unclean.” The attacks could last for hours until he confessed to something, anything, and cried out to Jesus, he said.

Sometimes even that wasn’t enough for redemption. Then, Anderson said, he would be locked in a dark place he called the “green room,” where he would bang his head against the brick wall, wanting to die.

GOP Senate must stop blocking legal recourse for New Yorkers abused as kids


December 13, 2017

A Journal News editorial

The #MeToo movement has awakened many to the wide range of sexual misconduct. We've heard of powerful men repeatedly, with apparent impunity, accosting and assaulting women. The contentious Alabama Senate election shone a spotlight on accusations that GOP candidate Roy Moore had targeted young adolescent girls.

With so much news about and, finally, serious consequences for sexual harassment, assault and abuse, many New Yorkers might assume that those who were victims of abuse as children are given fair and ample opportunity to seek some measure of justice. But they would be wrong. Under state law, criminal charges against an accused molester, for most forms of abuse short of rape, must be filed before a victim is 23. Victims who want to seek redress in civil court can only sue a church, school or other institution before they are 21, and can only sue their abuser until they are 23.

Such limits on seeking justice are more than unfair. New York legislators have had a bill in front of them for years to realign the statute of limitations to something that is fair and fits the timeline of trauma that victims of child sexual abuse can face. Yet the Republican-controlled Senate has failed to allow this bill to come to a vote.

Justice Peter McClellan: Survivors deserve our nation’s thanks

The Courier

December 14, 2017

By Siobhan Calafiore

Clergy abuse survivors have been publicly thanked for telling their stories as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse officially ended its five-year-long inquiry.

Chair Justice Peter McClellan used a symbolic sitting held in Sydney on Thursday to reflect on the history of the commission, honour the survivors, and warn sexual abuse of children was not only a problem of the past.

He said more than 15,000 people had contacted the royal commission, more than 8000 people had spoken with a commissioner in a private session and more than 1300 survivors had provided a written account of their experiences.

For many of the survivors who had never reported their abuse to police or a person in authority, the royal commission marked the first time they had told their stories.

“They have had a profound impact on the commissioners and our staff,” Justice McClellan said of the survivors.

“Without them we could not have done our work… they deserve our nation’s thanks.”

He said recounting the abuse had required great courage and determination.

“Most are stories of personal trauma and many are of personal tragedy. It is impossible not to share the anger many survivors have felt when they tell us of their betrayal by people they believed they were entitled to trust,” Justice McClellan said.

He also recognised the parents, spouses and siblings who had come forward about allegations of abuse of their relatives who had died, sometimes through suicide.

Milestone an intense time for survivors as they wait for report

The Courier

December 14, 2017

By Siobhan Calafiore

Overwhelming, intense and nerve-racking are some of the words used to describe what clergy abuse survivors may be feeling as they wait for a final report.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse officially concludes when the report and recommendations are delivered to the Governor General on Friday.

But survivors still do not know when these documents will be made public or how the final recommendations will be implemented.

Ballarat’s Centre Against Sexual Assault operational director Shireen Gunn said coupled with the Christmas period, which was often a difficult time for survivors, it was a “double whammy”.

“It has been an intense and long process that was extended too because there were so many people that came forward,” Ms Gunn said of the royal commission.

“There will be very strong interest about what is going to be said in that report.

“It’s one of the big milestones for those who have been closely involved in the royal commission and given evidence, this is another one of the main events.”

Ms Gunn said even after the release of the report, there was still a lot of work to be done around recognising the abuse that occurred and supporting survivors.

She hoped the conclusion of the royal commission would not mean the community would leave the stories of abuse in the past because it was a difficult subject.

Victims' group forced to give docs to Pell

Australian Associated Press

December 12th, 2017

By Jacqueline Le

Victims' advocacy group Broken Rites has been forced to hand over documents to lawyers representing Cardinal George Pell as he fights historical sex abuse charges.

Counsel for Pell, Broken Rites, Victoria Police and broadcaster ABC appeared before Melbourne Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

Defence barrister Ruth Shann said Victoria Police and Broken Rites have provided the materials that Pell's lawyers requested in a subpoena, but the details of the documents were not disclosed.

Pell's defence team has also sent subpoenas to ABC investigative journalist Louise Milligan and Melbourne University Press, who published her book Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell.

On November 23, magistrate Belinda Wallington said some of the material sought could be subject to journalistic privilege.

Ms Shann indicated on Tuesday journalistic privilege could be avoided if the defence had more time to hold discussions with the ABC and Ms Milligan.

"We think we are very close to reaching a consent position in relation to the two summons," she said.

Pending those discussions, counsel for the ABC, Haroon Hassan, said it was too early to say if the ABC would need to invoke journalistic privilege.

MANDEL: Greek Community of Toronto lawsuit claims unholy pilfering by Greek Orthodox church

Toronto SUN

December 14, 2017

By Michele Mandel

TORONTO — Stealing donations for a sick baby, the appointment of known sex abusers and skimming money earmarked for the poor are some of the explosive allegations in a Greek church civil war now raging in Toronto.

In 2012, when baby Alexander Karanikas needed more than $100,000 to airlift him home from Greece for lifesaving heart surgery at Sick Kids, the Greek Canadian community rallied and raised thousands of dollars after the fundraiser was announced by the archbishop (“the Metropolitan”) of the Greek Orthodox Metropolis of Toronto (Canada).

But most of the money never reached the child’s family, a lawsuit claims.

Instead, according to the suit filed by the Greek Community of Toronto (GCT), the Metropolis handed over a paltry $1,450 of the estimated $50,000 they raised and never issued the promised charitable tax receipts. “In misrepresenting the intended purpose of the subject fundraiser and the amount of the collected donations, from which they then personally benefitted, (they have) harmed and damaged the Greek Orthodox Churches’ reputation in Canada, in general, and GCT’s reputation in particular.”

That’s just one of many shocking allegations contained in the statement of claim filed recently against the Metropolis, its archbishop, Sotirios Athanassoulas, four priests, members of the church’s women’s auxiliary as well as the wife and children of Father Philip Philippou for allegedly misappropriating funds earmarked for the sick, homeless and poor.

'We were little slaves': Child abuse survivors share stories ahead of royal commission findings

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 13, 2017

By Emily Piesse

Dallas Phillips describes her childhood in Western Australia as akin to slavery.

It began in the Wheatbelt town of Goomalling, where the Noongar woman was beaten by a local priest.

"I still see him in my sleep. He was a really, really bad man," she said.

She acted out against the abuse and was sent to the Benedictine Community of New Norcia, about an hour's drive away.

The New Norcia diocese had the highest number of alleged child sex offenders in the WA Catholic Church between 1950 and 2010.

"I suffered so much," Ms Phillips recalled.

Swiss priest convicted of sexual abuse at Belgian school

SWI swissinfo.ch

December 14, 2017

A Belgian court has found a Swiss priest guilty of sexually abusing a young boy at a boarding school in Brussels belonging to the Society of Saint Pius X, a traditionalist Catholic group.

On Wednesday, the Brussels Court of Appeal sentenced the priest to five years in prison, of which two years were suspended.

The priest was found guilty of sexually abusing a boy aged under 16 who he was supervising at the Society of Saint Pius X boarding school in Brussels between 2010 and 2011. The victim and his parents had filed a civil suit in court.

A lower court had earlier cleared the priest of these charges, claiming that there was insufficient evidence. The Brussels Criminal Court also acquitted him of similar sexual abuse allegations against two other boys at the school, who did not file a civil action before the court of appeal.

On Wednesday, the priest did not appear before the appeal court, as his lawyer said he had fallen ill the previous evening and had to be hospitalized.

The priest had already been accused of paedophilia in Switzerland. He was cleared by an ecclesiastical court in 2006, but was forbidden to have contact with children for a period of ten years.

Haworth man attacks "failings" of Catholic school after former priest found guilty of sexual abuse

Keighley News

December 13, 2017

By Miran Rahman

A HAWORTH resident whose evidence formed part of the sex abuse prosecution case against a former Roman Catholic priest has reacted to news of the accused's conviction.

Author and photographer Peter Paul Hartnett commented after 74-year-old Laurence Soper was found guilty of abusing boys at a London school during the 1970s and 80s.

Mr Hartnett said he had himself been let down by those in charge at this school, and said the school had failed in its duty of care.

Soper had faced 19 charges of indecent and serious sexual assault against 10 former pupils at the independent St Benedict's School in Ealing, where he taught.

The Crown Prosecution Service confirmed that Soper was not charged with any offence against Mr Hartnett.

Earlier this month an Old Bailey jury took 14 hours to find Soper guilty of all the charges he faced. Soper, who had previously fled to Kosovo to try and avoid prosecution, is due to be sentenced on December 19.

He is the latest in a number of men to face allegations of abuse relating to their time at St Benedict's.

‘He lived in a difficult time in the church’

The Telegram

December 13, 2017

Archbishop Currie says archbishop Alphonsus Penney showed courage in calling inquiry into abuse, resigning

The head of the Roman Catholic Church in St. John’s understands there are mixed emotions being expressed at the news that former archbishop Alphonsus Penney has died.

But in expressing his condolences, Archbishop Martin Currie said he appreciated the way Penney handled the aftermath of what was one of the darkest periods in the church’s history.

“He lived in a difficult time in the church,” Currie told The Telegram Wednesday, referring to the scandal that erupted in the late 1980s over allegations of widespread sexual abuse of children by clergy that dated back to the 1970s.

“But we are grateful for the courage that he showed in calling the Winter Commission of inquiry into child sexual abuse and for his integrity and fortitude in resigning upon receipt of the report.”

Penney died Tuesday after hitting his head in a fall at St. Patrick’s Mercy Home, a long-term care facility. He was 93.

Born in St. John’s in 1924, Penney was ordained a priest in 1949 and served as bishop of Grand Falls from 1972-79. He was appointed archbishop of St. John’s in March 1979 and held the position until 1991, when he resigned after the Winter Commission of inquiry found he likely knew priests in his archdiocese were sexually abusing children.

In 1992, while testifying at the inquiry — which Penney had called — he admitted he first learned of allegations against Father James Hickey in 1987.

It was also revealed that many boys at the Mount Cashel Orphanage in St. John’s had been physically and sexually abused by Christian Brothers, who ran the orphanage.

OPINION: Archbishop Penney's passing should keep history of sex abuse scandal alive

CBC News

December 14, 2017

By Roger Bill

Alphonsus Penney led St. John's Roman Catholic archdiocese during sex abuse scandal; dead at 93

Somehow it seems fitting that no picture accompanies the obituary of the former Archbishop of St. John's at the Telegram website.

The Catholic church has wanted Alphonsus Penney to disappear ever since the first priest in the archdiocese was charged with sexually assaulting boys during his watch. That priest was Jim Hickey, and Alphonsus Penney knew Jim Hickey from the time Penney was an assistant priest at St. Joseph's church on Quidi Vidi Road and Hickey was a member of the church choir.

Their long association made it difficult to believe the archbishop in 1988 when he told a hastily arranged press conference following Hickey's conviction that he never had any indication that Jim Hickey was abusing children. Penney said he had no knowledge of any complaint about anybody. "None," he said.

Later, an inquiry commissioned by the Church concluded that Penney had lied about what he claimed he didn't know.

Abuse survivor resigns from Vatican child protection commission

Catholic Herald

December 13, 2017

By David V Barrett

Peter Saunders said he was 'disappointed that the commission didn’t do what I thought it was set up to achieve'

Sexual abuse survivor Peter Saunders has resigned from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, set up by Pope Francis to make recommendations on the Church’s role in child protection.

“I’m disappointed that the commission didn’t do what I thought it was set up to achieve,” Mr Saunders told The Tablet. “And there is still a huge amount of work that needs to be done.”

The commission only has an advisory role and does not comment on current cases of abuse.

“There was a bit of a misunderstanding about the commission’s role,” said Mr Saunders, who wanted it to have a more active role. “But I thought the Pope was serious about kicking backsides and holding people to account. I believe the Church deserves better on this.”

Mr Saunders was given “leave of absence” from the commission in February 2016 following friction with other members.

Bishop to sue alleged child abuse victim

Catholic Herald

December 13, 2017

By David V Barrett

The bishop, who was defended by Cardinal Godfried Danneels in a previous case, faces new accusations

A bishop who has previously been embroiled in a sex abuse scandal has said he will sue a new complainant for slander and defamation.

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges, Belgium resigned in 2010 following revelations that he had sexually abused his own nephew. Now he faces fresh allegations from a 36-year-old man, Michael, who claims to have been “rented” for eight years as a child, especially to clergymen.

Michael, who has a criminal and drug history, has had psychiatric treatment and has spent time in prison, alleges that he was abused from the age of five.

Bishop Vangheluwe’s lawyer said he would be filing a legal complaint.

Whether Francis is a ‘Reform Pope’ depends on whom you ask


December 14, 2017

By John L. Allen Jr.

ROME - “Reform” is one of those notoriously ambiguous words - in the same category with hope, change, progress, and improvement - which everyone professes to support, but which no one defines in quite the same way.

Thus, the question of whether or not Francis is a “Reform Pope” will depend largely on what you mean by the term.

Many observers are convinced that Francis is a quintessential reformer; Crux contributor Austen Ivereigh, for instance, titled his biography of the pontiff The Great Reformer. For this group, “reform” usually functions as a placeholder for enacting what they perceive as the vision of the Second Vatican Council (1962-65), meaning a Church heavier on mercy and lighter on judgment; a Church closer to the people than to elites; a Church less beholden to conservative political forces and alignments; and a decentralized Church, less dominated by Rome.

If that’s your definition of “reform,” then Francis is almost unquestionably a reformer, and a fairly successful one to boot. From his ruling on Communion for divorced and remarried Catholics in Amoris Laetitia to his decision to restore control over many matters of liturgical translation to local bishops’ conferences, it’s hard to argue he isn’t delivering on the “Vatican II” agenda.

On the other hand, if your understanding of “reform” is more classical, seeing it as a reaffirmation of traditional doctrine and discipline after a period of lassitude - sort of like the Franciscan reform, based on a more exacting embrace of the original spirit of the order - then Francis may not profile as a “reformer” at all. Instead, you may see him as the kind of pope who’s actually creating the need for a future reform, by allowing things to go to seed.

Then there are single-issue Catholics, for whom the lone test of reform is how the pope stacks up on the thing that concerns them the most - with the consequence that whether Francis is a reformer in their eyes will depend on his track record on that issue.

To take the most obvious example, many people deeply concerned with the Church’s response to its child sexual abuse scandals, arguably the most serious crisis to face Roman Catholicism since the Protestant Reformation, aren’t yet ready to call Francis an historic reformer.

The New York Archdiocese's New Approach to Abuse Claims in the Catholic Church [with audio]


December 14, 2017

By Danny Lewis

Earlier this year, the New York Archdiocese announced it was starting an independent program to compensate survivors of sexual abuse by clergy. Since then, the archdiocese has handed out just over $40 million to 189 people through the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. It's the first time the church has addressed these claims in this manner, and it's inspired similar efforts in local dioceses in Brooklyn and Long Island.

However, the effort is raising questions about why the church is going this route. According to Peter Feuerherd of the National Catholic Reporter, the program could be a response to ongoing efforts in New York to expand the statute of limitations for claims of child sexual abuse.

"If you want to look at this in the most positive way, they are opening up a venue for people to get justice who wouldn't be covered because of the statute of limitations," Feuerherd tells WNYC's Richard Hake. "If you want to use it on a very cynical level, they are simply trying to get ahead of the possibility of the state enacting a different statute of limitations."

Catholic school teacher accused of abusing student in the '90s

Pacific Daily News

December 14, 2017

By Haidee V Eugenio

A Catholic school teacher has been accused of repeatedly raping and sexually molesting a student from 1994 to 1996, according to a lawsuit filed on Thursday in local court.

Michael J. Unpingco, a teacher at San Vicente Catholic School in Barrigada, allegedly sexually abused and molested a plaintiff identified in court documents only as S.L.H. to protect his privacy.

The student asked the math teacher to stop abusing him, but Unpingco would allegedly make S.L.H. feel guilty by saying he should permit the abuses because of the personal favors he did for him, the lawsuit says.

On other occasions, S.L.H. pushed the teacher off of him because of the pain and the teacher would cry in an effort to make the student feel guilty, the complaint says.

S.L.H., represented by attorney Michael J. Berman, said in his lawsuit that he was about 12 to 14 years old when the teacher molested and abused him. He was in the 6th to 8th grade at the time, the lawsuit says.

'Changes must be made': Shocking Australian child abuse inquiry ends


December 14, 2017

By Lucie Morris-Marr

Children are still being sexually assaulted in Australian institutions.

That was the stark warning of an exhaustive five-year investigation by an Australia Royal Commission into institutional child sex abuse that concluded Thursday.

In a short hearing in Sydney, Hon Justice Peter McClellan, who has headed the investigation, said the "nation thanks the survivors" who gave testimony about decades of systematic abuse and cover-ups in religious and state institutions such as churches, youth groups, care homes and schools.

More than 8,000 people gave evidence in private sessions, and 2,559 referrals were made to authorities, including the police, as a result of the $383 million (AU$500 million) probe.

"The sexual abuse of children is not just a problem from the past. Child sexual abuse in institutions continues today," said McClellan. "In some case studies into schools the alleged abuse was so recent that the children are still attending school."

McClellan singled out the Roman Catholic Church in particular for often putting reputation above the safety of children in what they found to be decades of systematic sexual abuse -- a familiar pattern of scandals dogging Catholic institutions globally.

Royal commission: where to from here?

The Australian

December 14, 2017

By Jack the Insider

I was interviewed for the ABCs documentary, Undeniable, which examined the events leading up to the establishment of the royal commission into institutional responses to child sex abuse.

Towards the conclusion of the interview I was asked what my expectations were after the Commission handed down its final report.

“Well, what do we want do, burn another generation of children and get back to this in thirty years?”

Some might see that as a flippant remark and perhaps understandably, it found its way to the floor in an editor’s suite.

I thought it was a reasonable point to make because that is where we are now.

The grave concern I have is we will view the royal commission’s work as an historical problem rather than one that exists today. There are some who argue that the worst of the offending occurred in the 1970s and 80s. They may be right. I hope they are. But no one can be sure because what we do know is the lag between the date of the offence and the reporting of it is around 25 years.

Moving forward, we need to avoid the Guiness Book of Records superlatives, dwelling on what institution was worst in the dreadful statistics, pound for pound or weight for age.

Clearly, the Catholic Church has been a principal offender. The Anglican Church in this country has nothing to be proud of. But this appalling business has pervaded almost everywhere from the Scouts, the YMCA, the Salvation Army, children’s homes, orphanages, sporting clubs and associations, other religious groups like the Salvation Army, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jewish sects, hippy cults, dance and theatre groups, the ADF and to the most expensive and prestigious private schools in the country.

The commission estimated child sexual abuse has occurred at 4000 institutions across the country. There is more than enough blame to go around.

There are law reform issues for states and territories to consider. We need laws to be consistent across the country. These include facilitating victims’ rights to sue institutions and the withdrawal of the statute of limitations for civil cases in relation to child sexual abuse. Some states have already acted on the latter, others are yet to do so.

Top of the list for any state and territory government must be beefing up the reporting laws on child sexual abuse. Currently and unbelievably there are little or no sanctions available to the courts. Prosecutions are like rocking horse excreta. Queensland is the only state that has a custodial sentence on the books, most others offer only fines. In New South Wales, there is no penalty at all.

We know that senior figures within institutions react reflexively, almost in Pavlovian fashion, when confronted by the knowledge of child sex offending on their watch. They move to protect the reputation of the institution often at the expense of the rights of victims. In that environment child sex offending proliferates.

We have no assurance that leaders of institutions will behave any differently in future. If we take the example of a school principal who becomes aware that a child has been sexually abused at the school and the principal fails to report to police, there virtually no prospect of the principal facing criminal sanction. Institutional leaders need to face the full force of the law for failing to report child sexual abuse and that must involve a jail term. I guarantee behaviours will change.

The commission estimated the total cost of a national redress scheme for 60,000 abuse victims, including administration costs, at $4.3 billion. Payments to victims will be capped at $150,000. The institutions who allowed children to be abused will contribute to the scheme which will commence in 2018.

The federal parliament has acted on this but at present who pays what is grey and uncertain. The offending institutions need to be the major contributors. The taxpayer should not be footing the bulk of the bill.

Just as importantly there needs to be an understanding that victims of institutional child sex abuse will need assistance for the rest of their lives. It cannot simply be a matter of handing them a cheque.

Many victims who received compensation in the past, often a pittance compared to the trauma they endured, went into rapid declines, their meagre payments pounded into poker machines or pissed up against a wall in booze and drugs. The money often exacerbated their problems and sometimes brought their lives to an abrupt end through recklessness and addiction.

There must be provision of counselling services, life skills and adult education programs, community and peer support groups.

My singular disappointment with the royal commission was its apparent reluctance to investigate failures in policing child sexual abuse. .

As many of you know, I was involved in telling the story of Denis Ryan, the Mildura detective who was pushed out of the Victoria Police Force for trying to prosecute a paedophile priest in 1972.

VicPol conspired with the Ballarat Diocese to ensure the priest would not be charged.

I have looked at the rates of offending in the wake of that conspiracy. The effect was twofold. Victims would not report to police because they understood the police would not act. Meanwhile offenders believed they could rape children with impunity. In the Ballarat Diocese, it literally became open season on kids.

It’s not difficult to understand. Tell a safe breaker or an armed robber their criminal behaviour won’t be pursued by police and what would we expect to happen? Obviously, rates of these crimes would escalate. It is no different with child sex offending.

I have no particularly intimate knowledge of matters in Newcastle but a commission of inquiry there found the whistleblower cop, Peter Fox who alleged police were failing to act on credible reports of child sex offending, had made mistakes and lost his objectivity.

Of course he did. He was a whistleblower and whistleblowers make mistakes driven by stress. But rather than examine Fox’s mistakes, the question needed to be asked, how was it that there was so much offending going on in Newcastle and until recently, so few prosecutions to show for it?

Our police forces around the country need to convince us they are better at investigating child sexual abuse than they have been in the past. Public confidence can only be restored by an acknowledgment of the failures in the past. Yet too often, the politics of policing prohibits candid disclosure.

We simply cannot go through this again. We know too much. To allow the preconditions for institutional child sex offending to remain in place, to permit the possibility of future generations of children being subject to these indignities would be a failure on us all.

Put simply, a society that fails to protect its most precious asset, its children, is a failed society and that failure would be on every single one of us because we know the truth now.

December 13, 2017

Second Diocese of Duluth insurer settles

Duluth News Tribune

December 13, 2017

By Tom Olsen

A second insurer has agreed to settle its part in a lawsuit brought by the Diocese of Duluth in its ongoing bankruptcy.

Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. would pay the diocese $975,000 to resolve claims filed in federal court in June 2016. It is the second of five insurers named in the lawsuit to reach an agreement.

The proposed settlement, which must still be approved by a judge, would be used to continue litigation against the remaining insurers with the goal of obtaining monetary damages for victims of child sexual abuse, according to court documents.

While the agreement inches the diocese closer to resolving its already 2-year-old bankruptcy case, officials have stressed that much work remains to be done.

"This tentative settlement is another step toward the two goals that remain our priority here: providing compensation to victims in the most just way possible and emerging from bankruptcy as soon as we can," said Deacon Kyle Eller, a diocese spokesman.

The diocese filed for bankruptcy in December 2015 in the wake of a $4.9 million verdict in the first case to go to trial under the Minnesota Child Victims Act. It sued the five insurers six months later, seeking to force coverage of 125 abuse claims received in the bankruptcy case.

It was us against everyone’: how abuse survivors will keep pushing for change

The Guardian

December 13, 2017

By Melissa Davey

Melissa Davey spoke to Manny Waks and other advocates about the end of the royal commission and the path ahead

Manny Waks, a survivor of sexual abuse who exposed crimes against children that occurred within the secretive Jewish Yeshivah community, describes the work of the child abuse royal commission as “life-saving” and “life-changing”.

On Thursday morning the six royal commissioners led by Justice Peter McClellan will sit for a final time in front of abuse survivors and advocates, many of whom followed the commission’s work around the country. Guardian Australia spoke to Waks and other advocates and experts about the commission’s work over the past five years and what they hope will change once its work is done.

Waks was the first abuse survivor within the Yeshivah community in Australia to publicly call out his abusers and those who concealed their crimes. His whistleblowing saw him shunned by many in his community. His former peers ostracised him, verbally abused him and attempted to discredit his abuse. Speaking to Guardian Australia from where he now lives in Israel, Waks says it was the royal commission’s interrogation of Yeshivah authorities that helped to validate his story, along with the stories of of dozens of others abused within Jewish institutions.

Ireland has lessons for Australia eight years after its own child abuse royal commission

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 14, 2017

Ireland is still debating the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church, eight years after a royal commission into the matter delivered its groundbreaking report.

Ireland is still debating the scandal of child abuse in the Catholic Church, eight years after a royal commission into the matter delivered its groundbreaking report.

It found abuse was endemic in church-run schools where the under-privileged and troubled were sent.

The Ryan Commission published its report in 2009, 10 years after it began, and found that "beyond a doubt the entire system treated children like prison inmates and slaves".

Mannix Flynn was seven years old when he was taken to court for skipping school and stealing a toy car in Dublin.

"I was brought into the cells under the building, dragged out in a police van and taken away on a train, hundreds of miles away," Mr Flynn said.

He was sentenced to seven years at St Joseph's Industrial School in Letterfrack on the other side of the country, run by the Christian Brothers.

He suffered sexual abuse and was one of the hundreds of witnesses who gave evidence to the Ryan Commission.

The inquiry in Ireland was restricted by two rules — there would be no calls for prosecution and no sanctions of any party involved.

Mr Flynn, who is now a Dublin city councillor, said it was a flawed process and he was pessimistic about the impact of the Australian inquiry.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in Australia is due to hand down its final report on December 15.

"So what will happen in Australia is that there'll be mock shock, they'll print out the report, they'll find things we already knew but there will be no justice delivered," Mr Flynn said.

Catholic Church 'shouldn't run schools' unless it reports abuse revealed during confession: survivor

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 13, 2017

By Elise Scott

Child sexual abuse survivor Damian De Marco is calling for the Catholic Church to be banned from operating Australian schools unless it agrees to report abuse revealed during confession.

The call comes as the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse prepares to hand down its final report tomorrow.

Mr De Marco said government support should be pulled from Catholic schools unless the church promises to protect children over its own reputation.

Survivor wants the world to know her residential school story – but first, she must get permission

The Globe and Mail

December 12, 2017

By Gloria Galloway

The federal government says an Indigenous woman who was abused at a residential school must get Ottawa's permission and that of the Catholic Church, which ran the institution, before she can donate documents related to her case to a centre that is preserving the horrific legacy of the schools.

Angela Shisheesh, 72, says she wants to tell the world what happened to her and her sister at the infamous St. Anne's Residential School in Fort Albany, Ont., and she is determined to have her story documented at the National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation in Winnipeg.

"Everybody has to know what took place in that school," Ms. Shisheesh said on Tuesday. "This is why I am not afraid, even though it is hurting me as much as it was when I was there. It feels that I am just reliving everything. But I want to do this. I want to be strong for my brothers and sisters who were there."

In the early 2000s, Ms. Shisheesh was the lead plaintiff in a suit involving 156 students who were physically or sexually abused at the institution. That ended in a financial settlement in 2004 – two years before the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement (IRSSA) was signed by lawyers for former students, the Assembly of First Nations, the federal government and the churches that ran the schools.

The IRSSA, which compensated those who attended the schools and provided additional money to those were were abused, came after an estimated 18,000 civil actions, included the one involving Ms. Shisheesh, had been launched by survivors.

Archdiocese pays $750K to victims of former Croton priest Gennaro 'Jerry' Gentile


December 12, 2017

By Jorge Fitz-Gibbon

The Archdiocese of New York has paid $750,000 to three men who were abused as children by former Croton-on-Hudson priest Gennaro "Jerry" Gentile.

An attorney for the three unidentified men said they were victims of ongoing molestation by Gentile — who once even wrote a children's book — while he was pastor at Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church in Croton from 1987 to 2000.

Their settlements under the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program now bring the amount paid to victims of Catholic priest abuse in the archdiocese to more than $40 million. In all, 189 abuse victims received compensation.

"I think the problem is that the church, at that time, was essentially protecting them," said Joe O'Connor, the attorney for the three men abused by Gentile. "I mean, that’s the whole story. If you look at the record at how many times Gentile was moved, I think that’s the real harm, that they didn’t reach out and discipline.”

Gerald Ridsdale victims battle for compo

The Australian

December 14, 2017

By Tessa Akerman

Victims of Australia’s worst pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, are still locked in highly contested court battles with the Catholic Church despite Truth Justice Healing Council guidelines which urge compassion and decry making victims prove facts the church knows are true.

Lawyers for the diocese of Ballarat and its Bishop Paul Bird are contesting a Supreme Court compensation claim brought by a woman whom Ridsdale has ­already pleaded guilty to abusing.

The abuse occurred in Edenhope in regional Victoria in late 1979 or early 1980, when the woman, then a minor, was on holiday in the area and Ridsdale was parish priest. Ridsdale pleaded guilty in 2014 to the abuse charge in the County Court.

Documents filed in the ­Supreme Court compensation case in May on behalf of the ­diocese deny the then bishop ­Ronald Mulkearns failed to take any reasonable steps to ensure Ridsdale did not abuse children.

The child sex abuse royal ­commission last week found Mulkearns knew of Ridsdale’s ­offending by late 1975 and moved him between parishes when complaints arose.

The commission found Ridsdale was appointed temporary parish priest of Edenhope in 1976 after his removal from Inglewood parish, following complaints and without Mulkearns ­receiving any assurance from Ridsdale’s psychiatrist that it was suitable for Ridsdale to be put back into ministry.

“Bishop Mulkearns did not place any restrictions or conditions on how Ridsdale should ­operate in Edenhope,” the commission said.

Court documents from the woman’s civil claim show that lawyers for the church denied Ridsdale was a servant, agent, representative or otherwise acting under the control and auspices of Mulkearns when the abuse occurred.

The church’s defence, filed two years after the royal commission hearings into Ballarat ­diocese began, also denies Ridsdale held a special authority and influence within the community by reason of his position and ­status as a priest.

The royal commission heard Ridsdale had been convicted of child sexual abuse in parishes including Ballarat East, Swan Hill, Warrnambool, Apollo Bay, Inglewood, Edenhope and Mortlake.

Ridsdale was first convicted in 1993 but didn’t receive a prison sentence. Since he was first jailed in 1994, Ridsdale has been ­sentenced to 33 years’ jail with a minimum of 28 years.

The documents show that lawyers for the church admit Mulkearns owed a duty to exercise “reasonable care” for the safety of persons dealing with Ridsdale as Edenhope “administrator and parish priest” but deny the bishop owed a duty to protect the plaintiff from sexual abuse by Ridsdale.

The woman’s lawyer, Vivian Waller, told The Australian the defence documents were filed more than a year after the Truth Justice Healing Council guidelines came into effect, which ­advise church authorities to act honestly, fairly and compassionately when ­dealing with civil claims. Dr Waller represents 46 ­people who are seeking compensation from the church in relation to Ridsdale. The Ballarat diocese declined to comment.

Out on bail for 23 child molestation counts, East Bay minister flees during trial

East Bay Times

December 12, 2017

By Nate Gartrell

MARTINEZ — An East Bay minister who was out of jail on $1.3 million bail is a wanted man for failing to show up in court after a girl testified he sexually abused her for years.

Fernando Maldonado, 37, was on trial facing 23 counts of child molestation when he apparently fled the area, possibly to Mexico. His alleged victim, a girl who was less than 16 years old when the alleged sexual abuse occurred, testified Thursday and Friday that he sexually abused her numerous times over a three-year period, while he was a minister at two local churches.

Then, on Monday, Maldonado failed to show up to court. Judge Clare Maier issued a bench warrant for his arrest the same day, listing him as “voluntarily absent.” That means the trial will proceed without him. Closing arguments are expected to take place Wednesday.

If convicted, Maldonado could be sentenced to more than 30 years in prison, according to court records. Prosecutors on Tuesday argued that they should be able to refer to the defendant’s absence during closing arguments, and Maier seemed open to it, but has not yet issued a ruling.

The abuse began when Maldonado, a Concord resident, was a minister at Morello Avenue Baptist Church in Martinez and the victim was a parishioner there, police said.

Former member calls WNC church a ‘cult’, says he suffered ‘beatings, isolation’

The Associated Press

December 13, 2017

Jamey Anderson fled Word of Faith Fellowship church when he was 18

A former member of an evangelical church in western North Carolina says he endured a childhood of beatings and isolation and calls the church a "cult."

Word of Faith Fellowship Former members say church controls sex lives, behavior with violent punishment
Jamey Anderson fled Word of Faith Fellowship church when he was 18, but says he's not free. (Video at the top of this story includes an interview with Anderson)

More than a decade later, he still struggles to find his footing in a world he doesn't understand.

Night terrors jolt him awake and he fears people will think he's delusional if he discusses his experiences in the secretive evangelical sect because the stories seem unbelievable. Worst of all is the suffocating anguish that rushes in when Anderson said he looks back on what he calls a childhood of beatings and isolation.

"This was like a programmed thing of 'Always be smiling. Always have a happy face.' It's the 'life of God,' is what they would call it. And if you're walking around without a smile, there's something wrong. And they're gonna deal with you until you can have a smile," Anderson told the AP.

Anderson was a toddler when his mother joined Word of Faith. He describes his childhood as nothing short of hell.

Forty-three former members spoke with the Associated Press earlier this year.

Settlement For Abuse Victims At Holy Name Church In Croton

Ossining Patch

December 12, 2017

By Lanning Taliaferro

The Journal News reports a $750K settlement. It's part of the NY Archdiocese's Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program​.

CROTON-ON-HUDSON, NY — The Archdiocese of New York has paid $750,000 to three men who were abused as children by former Hudson Valley priest Gennaro Gentile, The Journal News reports. Gentile served in Catholic churches in Croton-on-Hudson, Poughkeepsie, Tuckahoe and Yonkers, according to lohud.com.

He was removed from the priesthood in 2005.

TJN reporter Jorge Fitzgibbon talked to an attorney for the men, who were Gentile's victims at Holy Name of Mary Church in Croton. "I think the problem is that the church, at that time, was essentially protecting them," Joe O'Connor told him. "I mean, that's the whole story. If you look at the record at how many times Gentile was moved, I think that's the real harm, that they didn't reach out and discipline."

Holy Name had two priests accused of sex abuse, Gentile and the man who replaced him, The Rev. Kenneth Jesselli.

The settlements are under the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, which began in March. Church officials launched an outreach effort in an attempt to locate potential victims who have yet to come forward with sex-abuse claims.

Lawyer who is suing prominent SBC leaders describes ‘Vatican light’ system for enabling abuse

Baptist News

December 12, 2017

By Bob Allen

A Texas lawyer who once sued the pope in connection with the Roman Catholic pedophile priest scandal is now taking aim at what he sees as another system of complicity in sexual abuse — this one in the Southern Baptist Convention.

A pending lawsuit in Harris County, Texas, names Paul Pressler and Paige Patterson, key figures in a reorientation of the 15 million-member denomination’s priorities in the last century, and other parties. It seeks more than $1 million in damages for a man claiming physical and spiritual harm resulting from a period of Baptist history often called the “Conservative Resurgence.”

“In this case, I am attacking the whole system,” Houston attorney Daniel Shea said in an interview with Baptist News Global.

Shea, who has a master’s degree in church history, said he is approaching the Southern Baptist system of shifting responsibility for alleged sexual abuse by claiming the autonomy of local churches and denominational bodies as a sort of “Vatican-light.”

In 2008, Shea, a former Catholic deacon, settled a lawsuit with the Roman Catholic Diocese of Galveston and Houston, accusing Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger — who later became Pope Benedict XVI — of conspiring to obstruct justice.

Now he represents a client alleging similar mistreatment during the late 20th century movement in the SBC credited with delivering America’s largest Protestant group from the political center to the Religious Right under the banner of biblical “inerrancy.”

How Television Anticipated the Weinstein Moment in 2017

The Atlantic

December 13, 2017

By Sophie Gilbert

From The Keepers to National Treasure, The Deuce to The Handmaid’s Tale, new shows probed the institutionalized nature of sexual assault.

This article contains spoilers about the Hulu show National Treasure.

On October 5, The New York Times published a remarkable investigation by Jodi Kantor and Megan Twohey into acts of sexual harassment and sexual assault reportedly committed by the film producer Harvey Weinstein over several decades. That story was published a little over two months ago, which feels baffling now, given the chain of events it set off, and the number of giants who’ve been accused of misconduct and subsequently toppled in that short space of time. Roy Price. Mark Halperin. Kevin Spacey. Louis C.K. Russell Simmons. Matt Lauer. Garrison Keillor. The revelations show no sign of abating; the Weinstein effect seems fated to continue in 2018, in one of the most significant public reckonings with systemic male abuse of power in history.

At the beginning of the year, no one could have anticipated what was coming. But television, in some ways, did. 2017 on the small screen was defined by a wealth of stories that thoughtfully and powerfully considered sexual assault. There were dramas that focused on the personal ramifications of abuse, like HBO’s Big Little Lies and SundanceTV’s Liar. But more common were shows that interpreted it as a wider, institutionalized phenomenon, and sought to engage with how deeply entrenched assault and harassment can be in systems of power. Top of the Lake: China Girl investigated workplace misogyny, male online culture, and the sex industry. The Handmaid’s Tale brought Margaret Atwood’s narrative of a theocratic reproductive dystopia to life onscreen for the first time since 1990. The Deuce explored the dynamic between 1970s sex workers and the men who control them with both physical and sexual cruelty.

Cardinal George Pell committal hearing to be held behind closed doors

The Age

December 12, 2017

By Adam Cooper

The first half of the hearing that determines whether Cardinal George Pell will stand trial on historical sex offences will be closed to the public, when his alleged victims give evidence over a period of up to 10 days.

Prosecutors have booked a remote witness facility – a video link that allows complainants alleging sexual abuse to give evidence from a location outside the court room – for the first two weeks of Cardinal Pell's committal hearing, Melbourne Magistrates Court heard on Tuesday.

The committal hearing, which will determine whether Cardinal Pell stands trial, is due to start on March 5 and run for four weeks.

Cardinal Pell, 76, faces charges of historical sexual offences involving multiple complainants. Details of the charges are yet to be revealed.

New York Archdiocese pays $40 million to clergy sexual abuse victims

Catholic News Service via Crux

December 12, 2017

By Christie L. Chicoine

NEW YORK - According to newly released information, the Archdiocese of New York has resolved claims from 189 victims of clergy sexual abuse in the amount of $40 million.

The figure was contained in a report released Dec. 7 under the archdiocese’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

The program is part of the archdiocese’s continuing effort to renew its contrition to those who suffered sexual abuse as a minor by a priest or deacon and to bring a sense of healing to victim-survivors.

The report said the archdiocese was grateful to the more than 200 victim-survivors who stepped forward to participate in the program. The archdiocese also renewed “our sorrow and shame at what they were forced to endure” in the document.

The report outlined the program’s progress and reviewed steps the archdiocese made in dealing “vigorously” with clergy accused of abuse and preventing acts of abuse through the safe environment programs.

Undeniable: Politicians must 'resist religious influence' when child abuse royal commission makes recommendations

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 13, 2017

By Paul Kennedy

Justice for survivors of child sexual abuse now hangs on the courage of politicians to resist religious influence and self-interest when acting on the royal commission's recommendations, according to a ground-breaking former Victorian MP.

"It's over to you. You are the ones directly responsible," Ann Barker said in a message to parliamentarians across the nation.

"And if you don't fulfil your responsibility, then I think the community of Australia — not just the victims and survivors that have gone through this whole process, but the broader community — will say to politicians, 'No. You have a responsibility, fulfil it, and do it now'."

After five years of public inquiries, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse will hold its last sitting on Thursday before handing its final report to the Governor-General the following day.

Whether Hollywood or the Vatican, patriarchy gives men license to abuse

National Catholic Reporter

December 12, 2017

By Jamie Manson

In mid-November, at what many thought was the height of revelations about sexual misconduct by powerful men in the media (we were post-Harvey Weinstein and Louis C.K., but pre-Charlie Rose and Matt Lauer), the New Yorker Radio Hour presented a series of interviews on the fallout from the unrelenting flood of sordid tales of sexual misconduct and assault by men.

In one interview, feminist author and activist bell hooks was asked about the roots of this male aggression and violence. She told New Yorker editor David Remnick that, though she had read a lot of commentaries since the first revelations about Weinstein, hardly any commentator had used the word "patriarchy" to explain the root cause of all of this bad behavior.

"We want to act like this is individual male psychopathology," hooks said, rather than admit that this behavior has been normalized for men by a patriarchal system.

Lately it feels like every day another a man vanishes from the limelight, as if taken by a plague. But in these cases, the pestilence was of their own making. And, as hooks points out, patriarchy created the conditions under which it could breed.

Patriarchy is any system in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it. In a patriarchal structure, powerful men dominate women, children, nature and other men. Frequently, one of the key ways that men predominate over women is by fixating on and controlling female sexuality.

In Hollywood and in the media, elite, ruling classes of wealthy men act as kingmakers. They have the power to decide what faces will become famous, which voices will become influential, and whose unknown name will become a household name. The patriarchal system gives these men license to abuse their power through the sexual coercion and domination of women and, in some cases, minors.

Australian bishop urges end to clericalism

National Catholic Reporter

December 13, 2017

By Peter Feuerherd

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen says culture of church contributed to sex abuse crisis in country

Bishop Vincent Long Van Nguyen of Parramatta, Australia, speaking to the National Council of Priests of Australia, urged an end to clericalism in the church and expressed hope that a newly revitalized Catholic clergy would emerge from the sex abuse crisis that has wracked the Catholic Church in Australia.

He spoke Aug. 30 to the National Council of Priests in Australia, which reprinted his remarks in the December edition of The Swag, its quarterly magazine.

Van Nguyen, 55, a Conventual Franciscan who became bishop of Parramatta last year, declared in a message to a Royal Commission investigating sex abuse in the Catholic Church that he himself had been abused by church members as an adult. He told the priests' group that "we are in a big mess" as priests "bear the brunt of public anger and distrust in the wake of the sexual abuse crisis. It is one of the hardest times to be a priest."

He suggested they look to the example of Pope Francis as a vision of priesthood based on a servant, not an authoritarian, model.

After Francis was elected, he eschewed the usual papal trappings and asked for the gathered crowd to pray for him at St. Peter's Square. That gesture, said Long, "was truly the prophetic sign of the century."

"The ground under our feet has shifted," said Long. "There needs to be an attitudinal change at every level, a conversion of mind and heart that conforms us to the spirit of the Gospel, a new wine in new wineskins, not a merely cosmetic change or worse, a retreat into restorationism."

In Australia, he said, "the priesthood no longer enjoys the prestige and the power it once had. For a lot of young people, it is no longer surrounded with the aura of mystique and fascination." In response, he urged priests to embrace what he called a model of servant-leader.

Exclusive: Peru prosecutor probing alleged abuse seeks to jail Catholic society founder - lawyer


December 13, 2017

By Mitra Taj

LIMA (Reuters) - A public prosecutor in Peru is seeking the pre-trial detention of Luis Figari, founder of an elite Catholic society who is accused of sexually and physically abusing children and former members of the group, the attorney for the victims of the alleged abuse told Reuters on Wednesday.

The prosecutor will ask a judge to order Figari and three other former leaders of Sodalitium Christianae Vitae to spend up to nine months in jail ahead of trial, said Hector Gadea. Gadea said he received a copy of the prosecutor’s so-called preventive prison request on Wednesday.

A hearing on the request has yet to be scheduled, Gadea said.

The prosecutors’ office did not immediately respond to request for comment.

New York archdiocese stresses commitment to aiding victims of clergy abuse


December 13, 2017

Nearly 200 sex abuse victims of clergy in the New York archdiocese have received compensation through a program the archdiocese says shows the Church’s willingness to reach out to and listen to victims.

“At a time when nearly every institution that involves minors has had to face allegations of abuse, the Church is now a model in how to respond to this horror,” the Archdiocese of New York said Dec. 7.

Since its program launched last year, the archdiocese has compensated 189 victims of archdiocesan clergy abuse in amounts totaling more than $40 million.

“By any measure, the reconciliation program has been a success,” the archdiocese said. “Many of the victim-survivors have expressed their gratitude that the Church extended an invitation, listened, and responded with compassion and understanding. All left knowing that the Archdiocese of New York was willing to make a genuine act of reparation for the harm that was done to them.”

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York launched The Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program in October 2016.

The program was headed by Kenneth Feinberg, an attorney and mediator who led the September 11 victims’ fund. He has been assisted by his colleague Camille Biros. They determined issuance and amount of compensation to be given to victims.

Suspended member of papal clergy abuse commission to resign

National Catholic Reporter

December 13, 2017

By Joshua J. McElwee

VATICAN CITY — The member of Pope Francis' commission on clergy sexual abuse who was suspended nearly two years ago after publicly critiquing the pope says he will now resign his post in advance of the expiration of his term of office Dec. 17.

Englishman Peter Saunders told NCR Dec. 13 he is planning to send a formal letter of resignation Dec. 15 to Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the president of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

"It's just a kind of closure for me that I feel I've done my best for the church and the institutional church has kind of rejected me," Saunders said in a brief interview. "And so I will resign."

Saunders, a sexual abuse survivor who founded the UK’s National Association for People Abused in Childhood, was placed on leave from the papal commission in February 2016. His expected resignation was first reported by The Tablet.

While the commission did not elaborate on the reasons for Saunders' 2016 suspension, the survivor had been publicly critical of Francis' record on clergy abuse. He particularly criticized Francis' appointment of Chilean Bishop Juan Barros, who has been accused of covering up abuse by Fr. Fernando Karadima.

The Vatican office for the papal commission declined to comment on Saunders' decision to resign. While Saunders will be the second of the two abuse survivors originally appointed to the commission to resign, his expected resignation comes days before his term's expiration.

Royal Commission: Former PM Julia Gillard says public wants action after five-year abuse inquiry

The Newcastle Herald

December 12, 2017

By Joanne McCarthy

REMOVING tax concessions to push “recalcitrant” churches to act on child sexual abuse reforms would have community support because “the public won’t tolerate” inaction after the five-year child abuse royal commission, said Julia Gillard on the eve of the commission’s final report.

Australians would be “waiting and watching” for any sense of church or political delay after a final Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse sitting on Thursday and the handing of the final report and recommendations to Governor General Sir Peter Cosgrove on Friday, Ms Gillard said this week after establishing the commission in 2012.

“Any sense that this is going to go on the back shelf and gather some dust, the community won’t tolerate it, the public won’t tolerate it,” she said.

She declined to predict if the royal commission would recommend linking tax concessions to reforms, after a public hearing in March where the Anglican church was warned to “get its house in order” or “the state could intervene by changing the money regime in relation to the church”.

The warning came after senior Anglicans told the commission the church had been unable to agree on uniform child protection regimes across the country.

Grappling with Rome: David Marr's lessons from the royal commission

The Guardian

December 12, 2017

by David Marr

In the squalid history of the Catholic church’s part in the sexual abuse of children, the only law that really counted was the Vatican’s. As Australia’s massive public inquiry into the scandal delivers its final report, has that changed?

When I grew up on the sheltered Protestant north shore of Sydney one of the givens about the Catholic church was that when push came to shove it would obey Rome rather than the law.

This was a time when the election of a Catholic president of the United States was widely considered impossible or at the least dangerous. Where would JFK’s loyalties lie in a crisis, to Washington or Rome?

I worked to get that fear out of my system because I saw it as religious bigotry. Australia shed it too. So did the western world. JFK turned out to be the poster boy for Catholic leadership, a man of undivided loyalties to his country.

But when I began reporting the royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse I could see evidence everywhere in the squalid history of the Catholic church’s part in the abuse of children – evidence from around the world – that the only law that really counted here was the law of Rome.

Across the world the church hid paedophile priests and snubbed their victims. Whether in Buenos Aires or Berlin or Ballarat, the story was absolutely the same. There were no whistleblowers. It was a faultless, international operation to defy criminal laws in the interests of the church.

Asking questions is the business of a royal commission. Masters of the art were at work before this commission. God knows how many they asked over the last five years. Tens of thousands in all shapes and sizes: brusque and discursive, technical and folksy, kind and absolutely lethal.

Two great questions mattered. To victims: what happened? And to institutions: why didn’t you pick up the phone and call the cops?

What victims should know about the RVC Diocese’s Compensation Fund

LI Herald

December 13, 2017

By Mitchell J. Birzon

There has been much written recently about the establishment of the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, created specifically to compensate survivors of sexual abuse by their clergy. That’s no surprise. This is a big announcement, as it literally gives certain victims what may be their last chance to file a claim.

However, clergy abuse, and the law and emotions that surround it, can be extremely complex and difficult to understand. With that in mind, what follows are eight simple keys to understanding this IRCP if you, or someone you know, is a victim:

Time is of the essence! The diocese announced the fund’s establishment on Oct. 16 and is offering a small window for victims to file a claim. Phase One of the program, which began with the announcement, is open to individuals who have previously notified the diocese of abuse perpetrated against them by members of the clergy. Those victims have until the end of the year to file a claim. Phase Two will include any person alleging sexual abuse that was not previously reported. It will begin in early 2018 and will be open for a few months.

Any person — male or female — who, as a minor, was sexually abused by a bishop, priest or deacon in the diocese at any time, may be eligible to participate in the fund. The law has previously prohibited any claims after the victim has reached the age of 23. That restriction does not apply to the IRCP. For many victims, because of the state’s statute of limitations, there is no certainty that they will ever have another chance to file a claim.

It’s important to reject many common fallacies about this type of abuse. Victims have been led to believe that there is no abuse if sexual contact that began when they were a minor continued beyond the age of consent, if they were “old enough to resist,” or if they otherwise gave an indication that they were willing participants. Others believe that they have no claim because their abuser has left the clergy, been transferred, or died. None of those factors excuse sexual contact of any kind before the age of 18 or disqualify a victim from this program.

Victims often think they are alone. Compensation funds created in neighboring dioceses have already paid hundreds of victims, and this program is expected to yield similar results. There are many, many victims.

Two more offenders have ties to Caldey Island, source says

BBC News

December 12, 2017

Two more sex offenders have had ties with Caldey Island which is at the centre of calls for an inquiry into historical abuse, a source has claimed.

Six women have been paid compensation following sexual abuse by a monk at the Pembrokeshire island's abbey.

It later emerged a fugitive child sex offender fled to the abbey to hide out.

The abbey has confirmed a priest was convicted of offences after leaving the island but denied knowing a serial sex offender had also stayed on the island.

BBC Wales has reported in recent weeks that Father Thaddeus Kotik lived on the island for 45 years and abused several girls there in the 1970s and 80s.

Child sex offender Paul Ashton fled to Caldey island in 2004 while on the run from the police after being charged with possessing indecent images of children.

He lived in the abbey until he was arrested in 2011.

Another sex offender believed to have lived on the island is notorious predator John Cronin.

December 12, 2017

NYPD adjusts interview techniques for sexual assault victims


December 10, 2017

By Erica Pandey

Amid a flood of sexual misconduct allegations — some of which have turned into police investigations — the New York Police Department has taken a new approach to questioning victims, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The bottom line: "The focus that’s occurring on sexual criminal conduct coming out of the Hollywood celebrities and members of Congress may be a watershed moment,” NYPD Deputy Chief Michael Osgood told the Journal. He says more sensitive and open-ended questioning techniques may lead to breakthroughs in cold cases that have been abandoned for years.

We All Helped Build The Wall Of Silence Around Victims Of Sexual Assault

The Huffington Post

December 12, 2017

By Guila Benchimol

Silence is not created in a vacuum. Collectively, we create walls of silence that make crime invisible, allowing it to persist.

Gretchen Carlson, whose sexual harassment claims led to Roger Ailes's downfall, recently stated that "the culture of concealment and denial is coming to an end" and the Silence Breakers were just named Time Magazine's Person of the Year. But a culture of silence does not simply end when its victims are ready to speak up. For victims to be heard, we must understand what role we play in building the silence around them.

Silence is a sexual predator's weapon, protecting them from detection and prosecution. Simon Hallsworth and Tara Young explain that while silence is a common feature of most crimes, it is the noise that receives our attention. Silence, however, is not created in a vacuum. Collectively, we create walls of silence that make crime invisible, allowing it to persist. Similarly, according to Eviatar Zerubavel's The Elephant in the Room, a conspiracy of silence is the result of individual and collective efforts at denial.

The culture of silence is the most striking pattern in recent sexual victimization revelations. The underlying message in the investigative reports is that walls of silence were built by perpetrators, control agents and bystanders, highlighting why victims are silent, or silenced, for so long. This machine of silence enabled perpetrators. People looked away while victimization occurred and went to great lengths to ensure silence. Active measures to promote silence continue today, including attempts to undermine victims and those who report their stories.

Sexual abuse survivors fear being 'deserted' after royal commission ends

The Guardian

December 11, 2017

By Melissa Davey

Advocates say commission’s closure will create ‘sense of loss’ and express concerns there will be insufficient support

Survivors of sexual abuse and their advocates have spoken of their fears of being left in the lurch once the child abuse royal commission’s work officially draws to a close.

On Friday the royal commissioners will deliver their final report to the governor general in Canberra, marking the end of their five-year inquiry into how abuse was able to occur in more than 4,000 Australian institutions.

Dr Judy Courtin, a lawyer who has represented dozens of survivors and their families, said that through public hearings and private sessions the commission had shown people that their stories of abuse were believed, and that they were not to blame. It would be tough for many survivors once that focus ended, she said.

“It’s like having a favourite aunty who you totally trust and believe in, and they back and support you, and then suddenly they’re not there,” Courtin said. “There is a risk people will just feel deserted.”

The commission had been a valuable source of support for legal professionals too, Courtin said, being an authority where submissions about abuse and failures of organisations could be referred for further investigation.

“People are losing a powerful ally in the commission,” she said.

Casi di pedofilia e abusi: ecco il dossier sul cardinale Pell

il Giornale

December 8, 2017

By Francesco Boezi

[Google Translate: A dossier of the Commission of Inquiry into the case of Cardinal Pell, accused of having covered cases of pedophilia and of real "historical" abuses]

Un dossier della Commissione d'Inchiesta sul caso del cardinale Pell, accusato di aver coperto casi di pedofilia e di veri e propri abusi "storici"

Il cardinale Pell - com'è noto - è accusato di aver coperto dei casi di pedofilia quando era arcivescovo di Melbourne.

Il porporato australiano - successivamente - sarebbe stato incriminato anche per presunti "storici" abusi sessuali su minori. Durante la prima udienza tenutasi lo scorso luglio in Australia, Pell ha respinto tutte le accuse: "A scanso di equivoci, dico subito che il cardinale Pell si 
dichiara non colpevole...", sottolineò all'epoca l'avvocato Robert Richter in tribunale. Pell - tuttavia - scelse in quell'occasione di non pronunciarsi personalmente. La seconda udienza, svoltasi ad ottobre - poi - durò venti minuti e si è limitò ad indagare sugli aspetti amministrativi. La Corte - in questa seconda circostanza - ha udito la previsione della deposizione di 50 testimoni prevista per il prossimo marzo: un passaggio cruciale per verificare l'esistenza del fumus boni iuris e procedere - quindi - con il processo. Una vicenda davvero pesante - insomma - considerando che Pell è la più alta carica ecclesiastica mai finita sotto accusa per reati inerenti la pedofilia. Papa Francesco - inoltre - aveva nominato l'australiano prefetto della Segreteria per l'Economia del Vaticano solo nel 2014 e così - tutta la "questione Pell" - ha assunto rilevanza mediatica anche in funzione della fiducia che il papa sembrava aver riposto in quest'uomo di Chiesa.

Ma quali sono queste accuse mosse nei confronti del cardinale? L'edizione odierna di Repubblica ha pubblicato il contenuto dell'ultimo dossier della Commissione d'inchiesta. Il documento sottolinea che: "il desiderio di evitare scandali e di proteggere la reputazione dei sacerdoti e della stessa Chiesa cattolica ha condotto a un «fallimento straordinario » rispetto a ciò che invece sarebbe stato doveroso fare". Per la Commissione - insomma - le diocesi di Ballarat e Melbourne non avrebbero risposto adeguatamente a denunce riguardanti abusi su minori che sarebbero state presentante nel corso di trent'anni. Pell - nelle città australiane citate - è stato prima sacerdote e poi vescovo. Ma il passaggio apparentemente più sconcertante tra quelli rivelati riguarda la testimonianza di Graeme Sleeman: un testimone che - nel novembre 2015 - avrebbe dichiarato che il porporato australiano - dinanzi ad alcune richieste su questi casi di abusi - "Mi attaccò il telefono". La tendenza della diocesi - poi - sarebbe stata quella di trasferire in nuove diocesi i sacerdoti accusati di pedofilia.

In Sex Abuse Cases, an Expiration Date Is Often Attached

New York Times

December 4, 2017

By Elizabeth A. Harris

As prep schools increasingly confront past sexual misconduct, they often use laws limiting when a lawsuit can be filed to avoid paying victims.

When John Humphrey was a student at what is now the Pingry School in New Jersey in the early 1970s, he was sexually abused by a teacher, he said. It began when he was 11 years old, and happened several times a week over two school years, until he left the school after the sixth grade.

Ray Dackerman said he was abused more than 100 times while he was a student there around the same time, beginning when he was 12 years old. The abuse took place in the teacher’s office and in Boy Scout tents, and even in the teacher’s home while his wife was in the house.

Mr. Humphrey and Mr. Dackerman say they were abused by the same man, Thad Alton, at the same school — even in the same tent at the same time. In its own investigation, Pingry found that Mr. Alton had abused at least 27 boys at the school.

When the men began settlement discussions with Pingry this fall, the school could have treated them equally, based on their abuse. But instead, their lawyers say, it drew a line using civil statutes of limitation, which spells out how long victims have to bring a lawsuit. In New Jersey, the clock starts running when survivors discover that the abuse left lasting injuries on their lives. They have two years from that date to initiate legal action.

Mr. Humphrey, who clearly fell within the statute and so could sue, was most likely looking at a substantial amount of money; Mr. Dackerman, who did not, seemed likely to get far less.

Statutes of limitation are devised to protect people and institutions from false allegations that are impossible to defend because evidence is stale, witnesses are dead and documents have been lost. But as schools increasingly confront sexual abuse carried out against children in their care, sometimes decades ago, the statutes have also become a way for them to avoid paying victims.

Lawyers, insurers and other experts in the field say that former students whose abuse falls within the statute might receive a settlement in the high six figures, even millions. But once outside it, victims see just a fraction of that, even as schools commission investigations, declare their contrition and promise to do right by them. Often, survivors see nothing at all.

That is largely a function of who is paying. Abuse is usually covered by a school’s general liability insurance policy, according to Robb Jones, senior vice president and general counsel for claims management at United Educators Insurance. In general, insurers will pay when the abuse in question is within the statute.

“The promise that comes as part of an insurance contract, so to speak, is to pay for legal liability, not for moral liability,” Mr. Jones said. For his company, a significant player among independent schools, paying for a case outside the statute of limitations “would be a true exception.”

Priest jailed for child abuse images lived on scandal-hit Caldey Island

The Guardian

December 12, 2017

By Amanda Gearing and Steven Morris

Exclusive: revelations mean that four men convicted or accused of sexual offences against children lived or stayed on tiny monastic Welsh island

A priest who was jailed for downloading hundreds of pictures of child sexual abuse is the latest offender to be identified as having close links with the monastic island of Caldey, which is at the centre of a growing scandal.

Father John Shannon, who was subsequently caught on the mainland with pictures of children as young as nine, lived on the island off the Welsh coast for nine months.

The revelation means that four men convicted or accused of sexual offences against children have now been identified as having lived or stayed on Caldey and will increase pressure for an inquiry.

In November the Guardian revealed a string of allegations against a monk, Thaddeus Kotik, dating back to the 1970s and 80s. Kotik was a member of the Cistercian order of Benedictine monks and lived in the monastery on Caldey Island from 1947 until his death in 1992.

It later emerged that police are investigating a second man over accusations of sexual abuse on the island during the same period and that a sex offender called Paul Ashton hid there while on the run from police. Ashton was finally caught on the island in 2011, taken back to the mainland and jailed.

George Pell: Complainants to give evidence on historical sexual offence charges over two weeks

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

December 12, 2017

By Emma Younger

It is expected to take up to two weeks for the complainants against Cardinal George Pell to give their evidence at an upcoming committal hearing, a Melbourne court has heard.

The 76-year-old will face the pre-trial hearing in March next year on historical sexual offence charges, involving multiple complainants.

No other details of the case can be reported for legal reasons.

Cardinal Pell strenuously denies the allegations.

Prosecutor Fran Dalziel told a short hearing at the Melbourne Magistrates' Court that a remote facility had been booked for a fortnight to allow the complainants to give evidence via video link.

The court will be closed to the public during that part of the month-long proceeding, as required by law.

Cardinal Pell's defence barrister Ruth Shan told the hearing they had received documents requested from Victoria Police and advocacy group Broken Rites.

Cardinal Pell was not required to attend court today and did not appear.

Another procedural mention has been set down for next Thursday.

New York Catholic Archdiocese Pays $40 Million to Sexual Abuse Victims

The Christian Post

December 11, 2017

By Michael Gryboski

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York announced that it paid out approximately $40 million to victims of sexual abuse by clergy.

In an update released last Thursday, the archdiocese noted that its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program resolved the claims of 189 victims, totaling $40,050.000.

"There are additional claims which were made prior to the November 1 application deadline that are still being processed by the program administrators," noted the archdiocese.

"The report also provides a summary of the Church's efforts to combat the scourge of sexual abuse of minors, which have resulted in the Church being a leader in the prevention of abuse, and in the care for victim–survivors."

EDITORIAL: Default must be to trust the victim

National Catholic Reporter

December 12, 2017

In our legal system, we presume an accused person to be innocent until someone can prove otherwise. In the case of sexual assault, violence or harassment, that means the burden is on victims to prove their trustworthiness. Often, in those cases, we are asked to choose sides based on the stories of the only two people involved — the accuser and the accused. In the post-Weinstein milieu we are now experiencing, one is a woman and the other a man who holds some level of power. In a different conversation, the victims have been children and the powerful accused have been priests.

It's difficult to prove sexual assault — much less harassment — in a court of law, especially in a case of "she said, he said." Because the "he" is innocent until proven guilty, the "she" bears the burden of proof. (We choose to use as default language "man" for the accused and "woman" for the victim, because while men are also victims of sexual assault, the rate of incidence for men compared to women is very small.) Having documentation and corroborating witnesses helps, as does finding other women to tell similar stories. But lacking hard evidence puts many women in the role of defendant.

The problem turns even more daunting when the man holds a position of power, such as a supervisor, a senator, a celebrity or a Catholic priest. The refrain of "no one will believe you" rings in the ears of women who have been harmed by such men. Often, the women are not even sure they should be believed, especially if they fault themselves (wrongly) for the actions of someone else.

Right now, at least, it does feel as if women are being heard. Matt Lauer of NBC's "Today" show, was fired a day after a woman colleague said he had exhibited inappropriate behavior toward her. From all accounts, NBC executives acted quickly to listen to the woman and to let Lauer go.

His on-air partner, Savannah Guthrie, summed up the issue well. She called Lauer "my dear, dear friend and my partner." But she went on to say "we are grappling with a dilemma that so many people have faced these past few weeks: How do you reconcile your love for someone with the revelation that they have behaved badly? … This reckoning that so many organizations have been going through is important, it's long overdue and it must result in workplaces where all women, all people, feel safe and respected."

Paul Pressler, former Texas judge and religious right leader, accused of sexually assaulting teen for years

The Texas Tribune

December 12, 2017

By Emma Platoff

A lawsuit filed this fall alleges that Paul Pressler, a former state judge, lawmaker and leader on the religious right, repeatedly sexually assaulted a young man over a period of decades, beginning when the boy was just 14.

A former Texas state judge and lawmaker has been accused of sexually abusing a young man for several decades starting when the boy was just 14, according to a lawsuit filed in October in Harris County.

The lawsuit alleges that Paul Pressler, a former justice on the 14th Court of Appeals who served in the Texas state house from 1957–59, sexually assaulted Duane Rollins, his former bible study student, several times per month over a period of years. According to the filing, the abuse started in the late 1970s and continued less frequently after Rollins left Houston for college in 1983.

In a November court filing, Pressler “generally and categorically [denied] each and every allegation” in Rollins’ petition.

The abuse, which consisted of anal penetration, took place in Pressler’s master bedroom study, the suit alleges. According to the lawsuit, Pressler told Rollins he was “special” and that the sexual contact was their God-sanctioned secret.

State Rep. Dan Johnson's resignation sought after church member alleges sexual abuse

Louisville Courier Journal

December 11, 2017

By Thomas Novelly

Another Frankfort legislator is being asked to step down amid allegations of sexual misconduct.

Dan Johnson, a preacher and Republican representative from Bullitt County, was accused of sexually abusing a member of his Fern Creek church, Heart of Fire, when she was 17. The woman says Johnson molested her after a New Year’s party in 2012, according to a report published Monday by the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.

Johnson was not available for comment at his office Monday, and he did not return a phone call left at his home. Courier Journal is not naming the woman because she says she was a victim of sexual abuse.

Officials from both sides of the aisle are calling on Johnson to step down.

"Following today’s extensively sourced and documented story from the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting, we once again find ourselves in a position where we must call for him to resign, this time, from the Kentucky General Assembly," Mac Brown, the chairman of the Republican Party of Kentucky, said in a statement.

Statement from LDS church about practice of clergy interviews, including with children


December 11, 2017

By Larry D. Curtis

SALT LAKE CITY — (KUTV) The LDS church issued a response to KUTV about the practice of its local leaders interviewing children and teens, including questions about sexuality and masturbation. The entire church response is reprinted below:

Personal interviews are an important part of ministering to those in a congregation. They offer an opportunity for a leader to know an individual better and to help them live the gospel of Jesus Christ. Leaders are instructed to prepare spiritually so they can be guided by the Holy Ghost during these interviews. Leaders are provided with instructions in leadership resources and are asked to review them regularly.

Interviews are held for a number of reasons, including for temple recommends, priesthood quorum or Young Women class advancement, callings to serve in the Church or when a member requests to meet with a priesthood leader for personal guidance or to help them to repent from serious sin.

For youth, a bishop meets with a young person at least annually to teach, express confidence and support, and listen carefully. These interviews should be characterized by great love and the guidance of the Holy Ghost. They speak together about the testimony of the young woman or young man, their religious habits (such as prayer, church attendance and personal study of the scriptures) and their obedience to God's commandments. They may review together these teachings in the scriptures or other Church resources, such as For the Strength of Youth.

In these interviews, Church leaders are instructed to be sensitive to the character, circumstances and understanding of the young man or young woman. They are counseled to not be unnecessarily probing or invasive in their questions, but should allow a young person to share their experiences, struggles and feelings.

There are times when a discussion of moral cleanliness is appropriate—particularly if a young man or young woman feels a need to repent. In these instances leaders are counseled to adapt the discussion to the understanding of the individual and to exercise care not to encourage curiosity or experimentation.

Church leaders have a solemn responsibility to keep confidential all information they receive in confessions and interviews. When a young person is faced with serious sin or temptation, a bishop will likely encourage them to share (as appropriate) their struggles with their parents so they can pray for, teach and encourage the young man or young woman.

When a Church leader meets with a child, youth or woman, they are encouraged to ask a parent or another adult to be in an adjoining room, foyer or hall, and to avoid circumstances that may be misunderstood.

Opinion: Dr. Margaret Kierstein: All women must continue breaking silence, loudly

Daily Hampshire Gazette

December 11, 2017

All women must continue breaking silence, loudly
Thank you Time magazine. It has done a wonderful job of highlighting the prevalence and profound importance of the abuse of woman over the course of recent history (“Time magazine honors ‘Silence Breakers’,” Dec. 7).

This abuse has gone on since the beginning of time, but repeatedly has new waves of silence breaking, with #MeToo calling on woman to use social media to tell their stories.

Recent history points to the Catholic Church, President Trump, Roy Moore and their ilk, and of course Hollywood’s men in power, to name just a few.

I’m not on Facebook or Twitter, so have not used #MeToo, but I want to be counted here. My incidents are numerous, from doing child care as a young teen, to boys in high school who could assault you as you walked down the hall, to a professor at the University of Massachusetts where my grade depended on whether I had sex with him, to a psychiatrist at a local mental health center who was a colleague. His personnel file was sealed and the abuser moved to yet another mental health facility after at least 11 others came forward as victims. He fortunately ended up in prison since his abuse involved a child as well.

I don’t believe I know a woman who has not been a victim. May we all keep breaking the silence as often as needed, and doing so very loudly.

Dr. Margaret Kierstein

Disney Music Executive Charged with Child Sex Abuse (EXCLUSIVE)


December 8, 2017

By Gene Maddaus

Jon Heely, the director of music publishing at Disney, has been charged with three felony counts of child sexual abuse.

Heely, 58, of Santa Clarita, is accused of sexually abusing two underage girls approximately a decade ago. He allegedly victimized the first girl when she was 15. According to the charges, he began abusing the second when she was about 11 years old and continued until she was 15.

In a statement, a Disney spokesman said the company suspended Heely late on Friday, after being informed of the charges.

“Immediately upon learning of this situation tonight, he has been suspended without pay until the matter is resolved by the courts,” the spokesman said.

Heely was arrested on Nov. 16 by deputies from the Santa Clarita station of the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department. Booking records indicate he was later released on $150,000 bail.

On Wednesday, prosecutors charged him with three counts of lewd and lascivious acts on a child. Heely pleaded not guilty at his arraignment at the San Fernando courthouse on Thursday. He is due back in court on Jan. 10. If convicted, he faces up to nine years and three months in prison.

Disney executive, 58, charged with three felony counts of child sexual abuse


December 11, 2017

By Jennifer Kline

A Disney executive has been charged with three felony counts of child sexual abuse.

Jon Heely, 58, is Disney's director of music publishing. He is accused of sexually abusing two underage girls. The first child was fifteen. The second child was 11 when the alleged abuse began, and it continued until she was 15.

Specific dates are not yet known, but Variety reports that the incidents occurred about ten years ago.

New Yorker fires star reporter Ryan Lizza over sexual misconduct, CNN pulls him off air

Fox News

December 11, 2017

By Brian Flood

The New Yorker has severed ties with star reporter Ryan Lizza in response to behavior the magazine described as “improper sexual conduct.”

Lizza emerged as a household name last summer after he recorded a phone call with then-White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci, who went off on a profanity-laced tirade. President Trump fired Scaramucci after less than two weeks.

“The New Yorker recently learned that Ryan Lizza engaged in what we believe was improper sexual conduct. We have reviewed the matter and, as a result, have severed ties with Lizza. Due to a request for privacy, we are not commenting further,” the magazine said in a statement.

Lizza is also a contributor to CNN and the network put out its own statement shortly after the news broke.

“We have just learned of the New Yorker's decision. Ryan Lizza will not appear on CNN while we look into this matter,” a CNN spokesperson said.

“I am dismayed that The New Yorker has decided to characterize a respectful relationship with a woman I dated as somehow inappropriate,” Lizza said in a statement to the media. “I am sorry to my friends, workplace colleagues, and loved ones for any embarrassment this episode may cause. I love The New Yorker... But this decision, which was made hastily and without a full investigation of the relevant facts, was a terrible mistake.”

“In no way did Mr. Lizza's misconduct constitute a 'respectful relationship' as he has now tried to characterize it,” the unnamed accuser's attorney, Douglas Wigdor, told a Washington Post reporter.

Prosecutors review checks as part of priest embezzlement case

ABC 30 Action News (KFSN)

December 11, 2017

By Brian Johnson

TULARE, Calif. (KFSN) -- A South Valley priest accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from his church was back in court Monday.

52-year-old Ignacio Villafan was the former priest at Rita's Catholic Church in Tulare. His preliminary hearing continued on Monday, and Gerrie Lenn Pimentel again took the witness stand.

As director of parish financial reporting for the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno, she discovered discrepancies that eventually lead to Villafan's arrest in late 2014.

Prosecutors say Villafan stole $425,000 from St. Rita's between 2005 and 2012.

Julia Gillard prepares for end of the royal commission she ordered five years ago

Brisbane Times

December 12, 2017

By Joanne McCarthy

The prime minister who instigated the royal commission into sexual abuse says Australians "won't tolerate" more inaction, and predicts removing tax concessions to push "recalcitrant" churches to act on reforms would win strong public support.

Julia Gillard said Australians would be "waiting and watching" for any sense of church or political delay after the release on Friday of the landmark final report from the five-year long Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

"Any sense that this is going to go on the back shelf and gather some dust, the community won't tolerate it, the public won't tolerate it," Ms Gillard told Fairfax Media.
She declined to predict if the royal commission would recommend linking tax concessions to reforms, after a public hearing in March where commission chair Justice Peter McClellan raised a scenario with senior Anglican clergy where the state could intervene by denying financial concessions "unless you get your house in order".

Ms Gillard said churches, governments and other institutions would need time to respond to the report but public pressure will exist regardless of "what levers are then needed to push some recalcitrants into action".

Closed court hearings for Cardinal George Pell

Sky News

December 12, 2017

The Melbourne Magistrates Court has requested an off site location for two weeks, when the trial against Cardinal George Pell begins next year.

The remote location will be used to hear the evidence of complainants in a closed court.

Closed court hearings are required for certain types of complainants in Victoria.

Lawyers for Pell are also continuing to negotiate with the ABC over information subpoenad from one of its journalists.

Maitland-Newcastle Royal Commission report withheld until "a later time"

The Newcastle Herald

December 12, 2017

By Ian Kirkwood

THE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has handed its report into the Catholic Church’s Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle to the federal government.

But it has recommended the contents not be made public at this point.

The commission said on Tuesday that it had delivered Case Study 43 - The response of Catholic Church authorities in the Maitland-Newcastle region to allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy and religious.

It also handed up Case Study 44, which involved “allegations of child sexual abuse against a priest” in the the Catholic dioceses of Armidale and Parramatta.

December 11, 2017

Notice Of Credible Allegation Of Abuse Dating To 1950s

The Catholic Key

December 11, 2017

The diocese recently received an allegation of sexual abuse of a minor by Father Sylvester Hoppe dating to 1953 to 1956. The priest, who died in 2002, was chaplain to St. Mary’s Orphanage in St. Joseph at the time.

Consistent with diocesan policy, the allegation was reported to the civil authorities and investigated. It was found credible by the independent ombudsman, Independent Review Board and Bishop Johnston.

Several prior allegations have been received against Hoppe since 2002. He also was the subject of two lawsuits claiming child sexual abuse that the diocese settled in 2008.

Hoppe served at Immaculate Conception, St. Joseph; St. Rose, Savannah; St. Patrick, Forest City; St. Paul, Tarkio; St. Benedict, Burlington Junction; St. Columban, Chillicothe; St. Ann, Excelsior Springs, and Sacred Heart Norborne. He also served as diocesan director of Catholic Boy Scouts before retiring in 1991.

“Our prayers are with the individual who came forward, which takes great courage, and with all those who have been affected,” said Carrie Cooper, Director of the office of Child and Youth Protection.

Op-Ed Dylan Farrow: Why has the #MeToo revolution spared Woody Allen?

Los Angeles Times

December 7, 2017

By Dylan Farrow

Editor’s Note: Woody Allen, who declined to comment prior to publication, has long denied the allegations described in this Op-Ed. Dylan Farrow’s allegations against Allen were investigated by sex-abuse experts at Yale-New Haven Hospital, who found no evidence of abuse. Some questioned their methodology. A state’s attorney in Connecticut said he had “probable cause” to prosecute in 1993 but did not file charges.

We are in the midst of a revolution. From allegations against studio heads and journalists, to hotel maids recounting abuses on the job, women are exposing the truth and men are losing their jobs. But the revolution has been selective.

I have long maintained that when I was 7 years old, Woody Allen led me into an attic, away from the babysitters who had been instructed never to leave me alone with him. He then sexually assaulted me. I told the truth to the authorities then, and I have been telling it, unaltered, for more than 20 years. Why is it that Harvey Weinstein and other accused celebrities have been cast out by Hollywood, while Allen recently secured a multimillion-dollar distribution deal with Amazon, greenlit by former Amazon Studios executive Roy Price before he was suspended over sexual misconduct allegations? Allen’s latest feature, “Wonder Wheel,” was released theatrically on Dec. 1.

Allen denies my allegations. But this is not a “he said, child said” situation. Allen’s pattern of inappropriate behavior — putting his thumb in my mouth, climbing into bed with me in his underwear, constant grooming and touching — was witnessed by friends and family members. At the time of the alleged assault, he was in therapy for his conduct towards me. Three eyewitnesses substantiated my account, including a babysitter who saw Allen with his head buried in my lap after he had taken off my underwear. Allen refused to take a polygraph administered by the Connecticut state police.

Child sex abuse royal commission: sins of the fathers to be laid bare

The Australian

December 11, 2017

By John Ferguson

When the late Frank Little retired two decades ago, he recounted with humility and understated ­humour the highlight of his 22-year calling as Archbishop of Melbourne.

Little was preparing to pass the keys to St Patrick’s Cathedral to ­George Pell when he recounted a trip around Flemington Racecourse with Pope John Paul II in 1986.

“I was in the Popemobile with the Holy Father and we were going down the straight, away from people, and then there was a lady who was separated from everyone else and she saw her ­opportunity and ran over to the fence,” Little recalled.

“The Holy Father was getting ready to wave to her, then she waved like mad and yelled out, ‘Hello, Archbishop Little.’ He was marvellous, he was sort of taken aback for a moment, and then he turned around and sort of smiled saying, ‘Win some, lose some.’ ”

In the nearly 10 years since Little died aged 83 in 2008, many have forgotten the broad sense of warmth and appeal that marked the late archbishop’s decades in charge of the heartland of Victorian Catholicism.

Fast-forward a decade and few could have predicted that Little’s reputational win-loss ratio had peaked, that his fall from grace would be so catastrophically complete and his history so comprehensively rewritten.

As the child sex abuse royal commission prepares to release its final report this week, two of its last three case studies focused on dioceses in Melbourne and Ballarat and the third on the Anglican Diocese of Newcastle.

The two faiths dominated complaints cited at the inquiry; 4756 Catholic abuse complaints, mostly between 1950 and 1989, and 1119 reported Anglican complaints, between 1980 and 2015.

In the Victorian reports, the commission found that the once admired Little had led a coterie of senior Catholics in Melbourne ­between 1974 and 1996 who were responsible for a run of cover-ups of sex offending by clergy and a long-term pattern of failing to protect children.

The evidence is appalling, ­including cases where obfuscation or inaction guaranteed further ­offending; where seven of the priests mentioned by the com­mission committed possibly hundreds of offences aided and abetted by a system of Machiavellian indifference to the suffering of the children.

Little’s complicity was only ­exceeded by the relentless number of crimes committed in a neighbouring diocese, with the effective green light of the Bishop of Balla­rat, Ronald Mulkearns, a man ­unmatched in his capacity to shop abusers around western Victoria to continue their offending.

There were probably thousands of offences committed under Mulkearns’s reign, although the final number will never be known, with apparently fewer than 10 core offenders, some of whom — like their bishop — never facing proper justice.

Combined, the two Victorian case studies provided 825 pages of evidence and commentary on some of the worst institution-sanctioned sex crimes committed in church history.

The Melbourne case study outlined in stunning detail the extent to which Little failed to act to protect the children of the Archdiocese of Melbourne, how police and prosecutors dropped the ball in the handling of investigations into the disgraced priest Father Nazareno Fasciale.

But also the extent to which no fewer than four high-ranking church men and some Catholic educators failed to head off offenders like the insane Father Peter Searson, who terrorised parish children in the full knowledge of Little’s church.

Worse, Little conspired to conceal the truth of offending across the diocese, destroyed documents and worked assiduously with ­others to send offenders to other postings where they would go on offending.

Like Ballarat, the numbers of offending clergy weren’t radically high; fewer than 10 offending men of the cloth in the archdiocese ­examined by the commission were left to operate unchallenged.

This was enough, though, to cause decades of turmoil that is still being unpicked by church authorities.

History shows that it wasn’t until George Pell took over as Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996 and the Melbourne Response ­that the archdiocese started transforming its systems and compensating victims for their trials. Little, like Mulkearns, was the roadblock with key underlings adding obstacles to the passage of justice.

“Archbishop Little abjectly ­failed to exercise proper care for the children within the arch­diocese’s parishes and schools,’’ the commission found.

The commission painted a picture, not so much of a friendly bloke next door as archbishop (he was “Uncle Frank’’ to his family) but a calculating exploiter of his position.

Little, it might have found, had behaved like a profit-driven company man rather than a man of the cloth. The same could be said of Ballarat’s Ronald Mulkearns. They were two men dressed as bishops who could easily have been Collins Street businessmen covering up wrongdoing to protect the share price.

Little and Mulkearns did to the church what business did for asbestos.

Of Little, the commission said: “During the tenure of Archbishop Little, decision-making within the archdiocese in response to complaints of child sexual abuse against priests was highly cen­tralised.

“There were no effective checks and balances on the archbishop’s exercise of his powers in relation to priests the subject of complaints.

“As the evidence in the case study makes plain, a system for responding to complaints of child sexual abuse in which the exclusive authority for making decisions was vested in one person is deeply flawed.’’

For the Catholic Church, criticism of its power structures has been running for hundreds of years. It seems likely that when the commission hands down its final report this week that it will back an overhaul of reporting sex offences within the churches, perhaps even tougher penalties for failing to ­report crimes.

Francis Sullivan, the chief executive of the church’s Truth, Justice and Healing Council, says that while Little and Mulkearns were at the head of the rotten fish, there were plenty of others ­beneath them who had failed to do enough to stop the crimes and subsequent suffering.

On the question of the church’s structures, he says: “The Catholic Church still has plenty of residue of the medieval times.

“The handling of child sex abuse in the Catholic Church is all about the misuse of power, privilege and those who participated in the positions of responsibility. The leadership and those in positions of responsibility instructively protected the institution before the welfare of the children. It’s writ large in every page (of the commission’s case studies).

“You’ve got to be angry because nothing else will change the ­system.’’

Where it’s hard to get a full picture of where the commission is heading is the significant number of pages that are heavily redacted because of looming court cases affecting both Melbourne and ­Ballarat.

To that end, it is not legally or practically possible to analyse the role of now Cardinal George Pell, who was for years a prominent figure in Ballarat and Melbourne. It’s fair to say, though, that after Pell took charge of Melbourne there were significant attempts to deal with the sex abuse scandal, chiefly the Melbourne Response compensation scheme, and the veil ­lifted on offending under Little.

This veil was removed in the Victorian parliamentary inquiry several years ago — the effective precursor to the royal commission — when both Little and Mul­kearns were excoriated for operating against the church victims’ interests.

The church is in an invidious position and is undeniably the focus of a feeding frenzy, where unfiltered or even cross-checked information is rarely sought. Where the worst possible assumptions are made and then treated as fact.

Few, for example, have both­ered to even consider the similarities between the commonwealth’s new sex abuse redress scheme and the original Melbourne ­Response set up under Pell, largely because it doesn’t fit the convenient narrative.

Of the 19 victims referred to by pseudonyms in the Melbourne case study last week, 16 were the subject of compensation and psychological care.

It’s not fashionable to give the church any credit for the attempts to deal with the wrongs committed in the past and in a purely emotional sense this is understandable, but not necessarily adding to the full factual picture.

Post-Little, the independent commissioner Peter O’Callaghan QC, for example, did encourage victims to report the crimes to police and of the 145 complaints to the independent commissioners relating to the offenders Kevin O’Donnell, Nazareno Fasciale, Ronald Pickering, Desmond Gannon, David Daniel, Peter Searson and Wilfred Baker, more than a third were reported to police.

This was either before the complainants spoke to the church or after speaking to the independent commissioners. It is wrong to say that the church in Melbourne — after Little — didn’t encourage police investigation of the crimes given that every victim who ­engages the response is encouraged to report the offending.

But at the same time it’s absolutely right to say that Little and Mulkearns oversaw operations that relentlessly failed to bring in the police and in well-documented cases the police were generally hopeless.

It’s also entirely legitimate for the church’s critics to be as vocal and critical of its failures as they want to be; reading the two Victorian case studies is an exercise in melancholy and outrage-inducing bewilderment.

Lawyer Vivian Waller is a veteran advocate for victims who warns there has been, and continues to be, a dark streak of arrogance where the church sees itself as being above the law.

“What Australian company or tertiary organisation wouldn’t ­involve the police?’’ she asks.

“Especially if it’s such a widespread thing. And I think part of the problem also from the cultural point of view is that the Catholic Church seemed to regard sexual offending against children as a moral failing which would be forgiven at confession and the perpetrator sent out again.

“As opposed to thinking of it as criminal failure.’’

For sheer weight of offending, it’s hard to go past the corruption that Mulkearns oversaw in the diocese of Ballarat, which spreads across Victoria’s west.

It seems that when Mulkearns couldn’t cover it up, the Christian Brothers finished the job.

With the aid of a pathetic police force in past decades, few can match the excesses of Mulkearns, who covered up offending and shifted wickedly prolific priests such as Gerald Ridsdale from parish to parish.

Ridsdale probably offended against hundreds of children ­although there have been 78 formal claims. The number of convictions against him masks the reality that most child sex offending goes unpunished.

Mulkearns and many others were given relentless warnings that Ridsdale was offending, yet did little except shift him; Mul­kearns’s defenders point to a ­different era, a lack of understanding of pedophilia and the misguided cultural demand that the church’s reputation be protected at every turn.

“On no occasion during the public hearing did commissioners hear evidence that Bishop Mul­kearns or any other member of the clergy reported allegations or complaints of child sexual abuse to the police or another authority,’’ the Ballarat commission case study reported.

The commission also has ­remarked on the role of the bishop and the power and authority that went with the position in terms of reporting to police, adding: “There was evidence that some records relating to allegations of child sexual abuse were destroyed.’’

However, the commission found that Mulkearns did not keep his conniving to himself, suggesting that Mulkearns had discussed allegations about offending clergy with others.

Like Melbourne, there were several senior diocese officials made relentlessly aware of offending.

In brutally simple language, Mulkearns was a liar and a ­destroyer of documents.

“Of the many reports to the diocese which we found were made by victims, their families and others in the community, very few were recorded in contemporaneous notes or documents.’’

Books have been written on any number of child sex offenders, including Monsignor John Day, who benefited from police cor­ruption that helped cover up his offending in Victoria’s far northwest, with one brave policeman, Denis Ryan, the exception to the rule.

There is a book in Ridsdale for anyone who wants to drown in the sorrow of Catholic wrongdoing. The commission data states that 140 people made a claim of sexual abuse against police and religious figures operating in the Ballarat Diocese between January 1980 and early 2015, but this excludes Christian Brothers offending, which was profound. Given that Ridsdale’s family and victims feared he offended against up to 500 children, this number seems quite conservative.

Ninety per cent of all claims in Ballarat were made against seven priests, who were each subject to three or more claims of child sexual abuse and 95 per cent of claims relating to between 1950 and 1989.

There is a lag between when ­offending occurs and when victims feel empowered enough to ­report, which means more cases are inevitable but hopefully not at the same rate as the past.

One significant factor will be the determination of the church and schools to ensure the past is not repeated.

To that end, on the day that the commission tore apart Little’s ­already battered reputation, Little’s alma mater — St Patrick’s College in Ballarat — drove a bulldozer into his grave.

The school that gave the church Little and Cardinal Pell and 111 AFL-VFL footballers, will strike Little’s name from a campus building and pen a line through his legacy on the school honour board.

Citing the withering findings of the commission’s Melbourne case study, the school’s headmaster, John Crowley, said today’s college demanded the highest possible standards of behaviour to students in its care. Little, he argued, failed those standards.

“The findings demonstrate that Archbishop Little’s behaviours do not meet these expectations,” Crowley said.

For many in the scarred ­regional city of Ballarat it was a welcome act of contrition.

For others, it will be too Little, too late.

Sisters at Catholic orphanage force-fed residents, child abuse inquiry hears

The Herald

December 11, 2017

By Colin McNeill

A former resident of a Catholic orphanage has told an inquiry how she was severely punished for wetting the bed.

June Smith, who waived her right to anonymity, said she had moved in to Smyllum Park in Lanark, South Lanarkshire, in 1969 when she was about three or four.

She told the Scottish Child Abuse Inquiry in Edinburgh that she persistently wet the bed until she was 15, which saw her severely punished by staff and nuns.

Ms Smith, who left the home in 1981, added: "(One of the sisters) would come in the morning, pull you out of bed and put you in a cold bath.

"Sometimes she would throw disinfectant over you and put her knuckles right into your head, that was sore - really sore."

She added that children who wet their beds were made to carry their sheets up a hill so everybody knew what had happened, which meant they would be bullied.

Ms Smith also told how, from the age of six, she was woken up during the night and made to take tablets to stop bedwetting.

She added: "I (still) wake up every night. When I get to sleep I'm alright until 2am, then that's me until 6am or 7am."

In a statement she had previously submitted she said she was taking part in the inquiry so other children in care do not suffer similar experiences.

She added her later years were better as the nuns in charge were "nice".

Another witness told how his time at Smyllum, which was run by the Daughters of Charity of St Vincent de Paul, means he avoids certain meals with his family.

He was moved to the home in 1974, aged around eight years old, and left in 1981 but said his time there still impacts his life.

Punishments included being beaten with "Jesus slippers" and being locked in a dark room, he told the inquiry.

The witness said: "What was put in front of you, you had to eat, we were getting force-fed.

"The sister would come behind you, hold your nose and ram it down you.

Catholic abuse report findings to be released

Australian Associated Press

December 11,2017

The prime minister and premiers must act now to ensure reforms recommended by the child sexual abuse royal commission are not shelved or lost in politics, a key Catholic Church adviser says.

The church's Truth Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan has called on Malcolm Turnbull and state and territory leaders to immediately set up a COAG committee to implement the recommendations in the inquiry's final report, which will be released on Friday.

Mr Sullivan says once the report is in the public domain all participants including the Catholic Church need to implement the recommendations and it is up to Mr Turnbull to lead the way.

'I think he has to show that this report is going to be taken 100 per cent seriously, it's not going to be put in a drawer, it's not going to be just one bit's accepted and another bit's not,' Mr Sullivan told AAP.

Anglican Church slams move by Rescue Churchie on child abuse

The Courier-Mail

December 11, 2017

By Peter Michael

The Anglican Church has slammed a move by Rescue Churchie to disband the School Council over child sex abuse payouts at one of Queensland’s most prestigious private schools.

Church leaders urged anyone with evidence of bogus child sex abuse claims to make an official report to police.

The Anglican Church Grammar School, known as Churchie, in East Brisbane is facing open revolt by a group of Old Boys over a reported $130,000 compensation payment to a convicted killer and conman.

“If anyone has evidence of fraud it should be reported to police,” an Anglican Church spokesman told The Courier-Mail.

“But it is important for survivors of abuse to continue to be encouraged to come forward to report abuse and that all allegations of abuse are taken with the utmost seriousness and investigated.”

Rescue Churchie yesterday launched a social media campaign to replace the Anglican Diocesan Council, the governing body of Churchie, with an autonomous school council.

Op-Ed The evangelical slippery slope, from Ronald Reagan to Roy Moore

Los Angeles Times

December 11, 2017

By Randall Balmer

When I was growing up in the evangelical subculture in the 1960s and 1970s, I heard a lot of warnings about slippery slopes, especially relating to the Bible. If you dared to interpret the many-headed beasts or the vials of judgment in the Book of Revelation as allegory, then pretty soon you’d read the creation accounts at the beginning of Genesis not as history but as stories. Slippery slope. Not long thereafter you’d question the miracles of the New Testament, trade in your King James Bible for Kahil Gibran’s “The Prophet” and become (I don’t know) a Druid, an Episcopalian or perhaps a coastal elite.

Many of the slippery slope scenarios I heard applied to behavior. A sip of beer would lead to wine, then the hard stuff and, inevitably, to a life of debauchery. A trip to the movie theater would lead to a pornography addiction. Playing poker with friends would lead to a gambling addiction. Slippery slope. Dancing, of course, placed you on the fast track to sexual intercourse.

I left the evangelical subculture, more or less, at the end of the 1970s. Little did I know that evangelicals were then stepping onto their own slippery slope that would lead to Donald Trump and now Roy Moore.

To say that I left the evangelical subculture is not quite accurate — and not only because evangelicalism is so stamped into my DNA that it is impossible to leave entirely. Evangelicalism really left me more than I left it. The religious tradition that shaped me was part of a long and noble movement that, in earlier generations of American life, took the part of those on the margins of society. Evangelicals, especially in the 19th and early 20th centuries, sought to educate those on the bottom rungs of society so they would have a better life. They worked for the abolition of slavery and advocated equal rights, including voting rights for women.

Notary for Vatican tribunal quits amid allegations

The Guam Daily Post

December 11, 2017

By Mindy Aguon

The notary for the Vatican tribunal who came to Guam to investigate child sex abuse allegations against Archbishop Anthony Apuron has resigned from his position at the Vatican's Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faithful.

Rev. Justin Wachs, the notary and recorder for the tribunal, resigned from his Vatican appointed position for "personal and professional reasons," according to a letter from Sioux Falls, South Dakota Bishop Paul Swain's letter to clergy dated Nov. 29.

The information about Wachs' resignation came out after Keloland Media Group uncovered allegations of sexual harassment that had been filed against Wachs by the former secretary of the Sioux Falls Diocese where Wachs had previously served as priest.

The woman alleged Wachs inappropriately touched her and interacted with her in 2014.

According to the Keloland report, Wachs and the diocese tried to save the working relationship and establish professional boundaries between the woman and Wachs, but months later, he resigned from the parish and went on medical leave, Post files state.

Cynthia M. Allen: Attitudes toward sex empower male abusers

The Columbus Dispatch

December 10, 2017

By Cynthia M. Allen

We are on the verge of some significant cultural change — at least we should be — if we are to effectively confront the deluge of sexual harassment and assault scandals that have swept up dozens of prominent men in news media, government and business.

In some ways, what’s happening is good.

By coming forward, women are unearthing systemic sexism that has permeated some workplaces for years, and many employers are responding appropriately, albeit belatedly.

And it is the first time in decades where there seems to be a growing consensus across the political spectrum that our past acceptance of such transgressions was flawed, and we now need to draw bright lines when it comes to sexual behavior.

While the actions of the accused covers a broad spectrum of behavior — rape is a far more serious crime than sending a lewd photo — the fact that many Democrats and Republicans are calling for the heads of their own no matter the degree of the crime, is a positive development.

In the weeks and months to come, more stories and accusers will surface, and prescriptions for “fixing” things — mandatory harassment training and better support for women — will be implemented. There also should be agreement on moral standards of conduct for people in high-profile jobs in the public and private sectors.

But these remedies will be Band-Aids only if we fail to understand how we came to a place and time where a man dropping his pants at the office could go unchecked for so long.

How did we get here?

Pointing a Canon at the Catholic Church: How Civil Suits Against Pedophile Priests are Handled in Canada

Forget the Box

December 11, 2017

By Samantha Gold

Quebec has a love-hate relationship with its Catholic heritage. The province began as a settlement ripped from First Nations by Catholic France before the British took the colony. Quebec owes its first schools, public records, and health care and social welfare facilities to the Catholic Church who set them up at time when secular governments stayed out of them.

During the Duplessis era from the mid 1940s to late 1950s, the Church cooperated with the near dictatorial government to try and keep the people of Quebec obedient and unquestioning of authority. The Quiet Revolution that followed emptied the churches as French Canadians embraced women’s liberation, free sex, and the right to question even the Pope.

Though the province now claims to be aggressively secular (see Bill 62), it is determined to hold on to Catholic symbols such as the crucifix in the National Assembly and the tacky cross currently adorning Mount Royal in the name of glorifying a heritage that credits Quebec society solely – and incorrectly – to its white, Catholic, French-speaking founders.

As any place with Catholic roots, Quebec is not immune to the scandals erupting from the sexual abuses of children carried out by priests, nuns, and friars working in the province’s many schools. At the end of November, The Quebec Court of Appeal approved a class action lawsuit by the victims of sexual abuse who are suing Montreal’s Saint Joseph’s Oratory and the Province Canadienne de la Congregation de Sainte-Croix for the molestation they endured while attending schools the defendants operated.

This article will look at how our legal system handles civil suits against religious authorities accused of participating in sexual abuse and the St Joseph’s case in a little more detail.

Courts in Canada are generally sympathetic to the young victims of sexual assault by Catholic clergy.

In 2004’s John Doe v. Bennett, the Supreme Court dismissed the appeal of the Roman Catholic Episcopal Corporation of St. George’s in Newfoundland who had been found liable for the sexual abuse of boys by a priest operating under their authority for two decades. Though provinces have their own civil laws, the principles of this case are similar to such civil suits in Quebec.

Sex offender priest dies same day he's due in court on new charges

CBC News

December 8, 2017

'Where's the justice in that?' says alleged victim

A Catholic priest and convicted pedophile from Winnipeg died this week, just as he was set to appear in court on new allegations.

An online obituary notice from family says Father Omer Desjardins died Dec. 4 at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg at the age of 85. He was due in court that same day.

News of Desjardins' death doesn't sit well with one of his alleged victims, who had been waiting for a trial to get underway — and for the ordained Oblate priest's expected guilty plea — since breaking 28 years of silence and telling his story of abuse to police in November 2016.

Joe, who does not want his last name used, previously told CBC News he first met Desjardins in October 1988 when the priest was working as the night caregiver at Credo Home, a Winnipeg group home run by the Oblates of Mary Immaculate, a Roman Catholic religious community of priests and brothers commonly referred to as the Oblates.

Joe had just turned 15 and didn't want to live with his mother and her boyfriend. He became a ward of Child and Family Services and was placed in the group home.

Joe says Desjardins soon began coming into his bedroom at night to talk.

Reporting of suspected child abuse becomes mandatory


December 11, 2017

The Irish Association of Social Workers has criticised the HSE for failing to appoint designated liaison persons to oversee the handling of allegations of child abuse that are brought to its attention.

The criticism comes on the day mandatory reporting of concerns about child welfare has been introduced by the government.

Minister for Children Katherine Zappone says the Government's introduction of mandatory reporting ends 20 years of stalling by Governments in the face of a series of reports on child abuse in church, State and voluntary organisations.

From today, thousands of professionals, such as teachers, doctors, nurses and gardaí, must report suspicions of child abuse to Tusla, the Child and Family Agency.

Abuse survivor reflects on royal commission's damning findings into Newcastle's Anglican Diocese

ABC Newcastle

December 10, 2017

By Robert Virtue and Paul Turton

A survivor of child sexual abuse at the hands of the Anglican Church in the 1960s is calling for the Federal Government to fully implement the final findings of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

The call comes in the wake of the royal commission delivering a damning assessment of the Newcastle Anglican Diocese's responses to abuse cases, when it handed down its findings last week.

The commission found there had been a "distinct lack of leadership" from bishops Alfred Holland and Roger Herft, and a "cumulative effect of … systemic issues was that a group of perpetrators was allowed to operate within the diocese for at least 30 years".

Paul Gray said he had been abused by a number of perpetrators when he was aged 10 to 14, including Father Peter Rushton, who died in 2007 without being charged.

Mr Gray said lawmakers needed to act to ensure children were kept safe.

"How about we make sure we get consensus in the Parliament to instigate the findings of the royal commission and keep our children safe?" he said.

Pope’s Personal Income: Billions and Very Secret

The Open Tabernacle

December 10, 2017

By Betty Clermont

In 2013, the first year of Pope Francis’ pontificate, Catholics around the world put €378 million (over $515 million) in the collection basket for the annual Peter’s Pence donation, the fund for the pope’s charitable works. This information was provided by Emiliano Fittipaldi in his book, Avarice: Documents Revealing Wealth, Scandals and Secrets of Francis’ Church.

That same year, as in every year before, the Vatican Bank financial statement noted that profits were “offered to the Holy Father in support of his apostolic and charitable ministry.” In 2013, that was “a sum of €50,000,000” (over $68 million). A declaration that profits were given to the pope has been omitted in subsequent statements.

Beginning in March 2016, the “messages of Pope Francis published daily on Twitter and Instagram together with photos and reflections” include a link for making donations to the Peter’s Pence fund for “all people who want to help those most in need.” The papal Twitter accounts in nine languages have over 40 million followers and his Instagram account is close to 5 million, according to the Vatican Secretariat for Communications, the new department created by Pope Francis to make sure “what the pope says and does is made known to the world as quickly as possible.”

Additionally, the Peter’s Pence fund was given its own web site in November 2016 to increase the opportunity for more online contributions.

This Is Survival

The Players' Tribune

December 7, 2017

By Aly Raisman

Everyone is a survivor of something.

Everyone is battling something.

Everyone goes through ups and downs in their lives. The hard parts are scary and uncomfortable to talk about, but they are part of the fabric of our lives. The tough times make us stronger and make us who we are.

I’ve chosen to open up about my experience because I want change. It is very hard and uncomfortable to talk about. I have learned that everyone copes differently. There’s no map that shows you the path to healing. Some days I feel happy and protected for sharing my story. Other days I have bad anxiety and either feel traumatized from Larry Nassar’s abuse or I fear something else will happen in the future. When I have these scary thoughts, I try my best to find things to help me manage my fears. I go for a walk outside. I read a book. I meditate and practice my breathing exercises. I take a hot bath. I draw. I hang out with family and friends. And I remind myself I am in control and that I will be O.K.

I also want people to understand that abuse is never O.K. One person is too many and one time is too often. We must protect the survivors and people who are suffering in silence. We must support those who come forward, whether it is today, tomorrow, in three months, one year from now, 10 years from now. Whenever it is, everyone must show support. Victim shaming must stop. There are those who ask tough questions. Why didn’t you speak up? Why are you just speaking now? Are you nervous this will define you? To them I ask that they consider how complicated it is to deal with abuse. Abusers are often master manipulators and make their survivors feel confused and guilty for thinking badly of their abusers. And the abusers also often make everyone around them stand up for them, leaving the survivor afraid that no one will believe them. That needs to stop. Those who look the other way must stop and help protect those being hurt. Abusers must never be protected.

The power needs to shift to the survivors.

Sexual abuse isn’t just in the moment. It is forever. Healing is forever.

BREAKING NEWS: Former abbot, 74, who withdrew £182,000 from his Vatican bank account and went on the run in Albania is found guilty of abusing boys at Catholic school

Daily Mail

December 6, 2017

By Richard Spillett

- Andrew Soper, 74, raped and groped pupils at St Benedict's School in Ealing
- He later used £182,000 from Vatican bank account to flee justice to Albania
- Soper was convicted of several counts of sexual and indecent assault on boys
- Victims said they had breakdowns because they 'would not be believed'

A Roman Catholic priest who sexually abused children at an abbey school which became one of Britain's most notorious dens of paedophilia is set to die behind bars.

Andrew Soper, 74, raped and groped pupils at St Benedict's School in Ealing in the 1970s and 80s and used £182,000 from his Vatican bank account to flee to Albania when victims came forward decades later.

Former headmaster father David Pearce and former maths teacher John Maestri had been jailed for abusing children at the £12,000-a-year private school.

Soper flew to the UK to be interviewed by police about the claims in July 2004, June 2009 and September 2010, and was allowed to return to Rome, Italy, on police bail until 11 March 2011.

Gerald Elias: Sexual predators know the difference between right and wrong — they abuse because society has tolerated it for so long

The Salt Lake Tribune

December 10, 2017

By Gerald Elias

When drunken frat boys and campus sports heroes rape female students, we wring our hands but chalk it up to bad upbringing or aberrant behavior or extra testosterone or the reason-numbing effects of binge drinking. We decry it but can, to some degree, understand it.
But when such crimes are committed or tolerated by revered university profes­sors and administrators, how do we explain that away? Misunderstandings? If a professor or administrator can’t discern the difference between right and wrong, who can? Is it that difficult?
We are now engaged in a raging national debate regarding sexual misconduct that goes far beyond the college campus. High-profile men in the entertainment industry, in the media, in government, have been outed for sexual misconduct ranging from an unwanted kiss to pathological pedophilia. Even this is but the tip of the iceberg. Below the surface, sexual misconduct in the workplace — in offices, in hotels, in factories, in athletics, in the armed forces — has yet to be fully exposed. And it goes even beyond the workplace. Women do not feel safe from harassment or being groped simply walking down the street, sitting in a bus or going to a park.

When students and former students have come to me with stories of being victimized by members of my profession, the most important thing I can do is help them regain their ability — which has been so violently compromised — to trust someone, anyone. I try to provide that trust and support. In a society that has no difficulty talking about violence but is unable to openly discuss sex, especially sexual predation, it is no wonder that women are only now coming forward and with such difficulty and with such courage.

Archdiocese pays 3 local men $250K each after priest-abuse claims

Times Herald-Record

December 10, 2017

By Paul Brooks

KINGSTON – Three Hudson Valley men abused by a Catholic priest decades ago will receive $250,000 each in compensation from the New York Archdiocese, according to their Kingston lawyer.

Joe O’Connor of Mainetti, Mainetti & O’Connor confirmed the payouts Friday.

The money from the Archdiocese was authorized after a review of the claims the three men filed with the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

The Archdiocese has paid out more than $40 million under the program, it said in a report released Thursday.

The claims of the three local men outlined details of the sexual abuse suffered at the hands of Gennaro “Jerry” Gentile, a priest who spent time in nine different parishes in the Hudson Valley between 1970 and 2002, according to church records.

The three men filed their claims with the IRCP in October, then told their stories to the program’s two-person staff, who had authority to evaluate the claims and determine what to pay victims.

Victims had to waive their right to otherwise sue the Archdiocese, but could speak freely of their abuse.

The law firm’s Michael Kolb played a major role in assisting the victims, O’Connor said.

Two of the victims he represents have declined to discuss their abuse publicly. One is still considering that step, O’Connor said.

Gentile abused them while he was at the Holy Name of Mary church in Croton-On-Hudson. He was a pastor there from April 1987 to 2000, church records show. Their families were parishoners at the church, O’Connor said.

The three were between the ages of 9 and 15 at the time, and the abuse by Gentile went on for at least six years in all three cases, O’Connor said.

Royal commission condemns Wimmera Catholic authorities

The Wimmera Mail Times

December 7, 2017

By Erin Witmitz

THE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has released a scathing final report into Catholic authorities in the Wimmera.

The report found the Diocese of Ballarat had an secretive and abusive culture that prioritised reputation above child welfare and failed to stop the crimes.

The commission was particularly scathing of the actions of former Bishop Ronald Mulkearns, saying he failed to take action to have (infamous paedophile priest Gerald) Ridsdale referred to police and to restrict Ridsdale's contact with children.

In July 1986 Bishop Mulkearns appointed Ridsdale as assistant priest at Horsham.

The commission said Ridsdale should never have been appointed to Horsham because Bishop Mulkearns knew about sexual allegations against Ridsdale at the time.

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse | Abuse impacts families following of the Catholic church

The Wimmera Mail Times

December 10, 2017

By Brendan Wrigley

IT WILL come as no surprise to anyone who has followed the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse to hear Anne Levey has not stepped foot inside a Catholic church for more than two years.

Her son Paul’s tale of being sent to live with notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale in Mortlake in the 1970s was among the most harrowing heard across more than two years of testimony.

Despite her best efforts to have her teenage son removed from Ridsdale’s control, disgraced former Bishop Ronald Mulkearns claimed he could not fulfill her wish despite knowing of the priest’s abusive history.

Now living in Albury, Ms Levey said her once devout commitment to the cross had evaporated after hearing countless cases of rampant sexual abuse and systematic cover-ups.

“I was totally devastated when I went to the commission. I thought it was just Ridsdale,” Ms Levey said upon hearing of the volume of paedophile priests operating throughout the Ballarat diocese, including towns across the Wimmera.

“I used to go to church every Sunday but I just couldn’t go down to the church now and look a priest in the face.”

While many parishioners such as Ms Levey have chosen to abandon the organisation, others with an intimate understanding of the abuse have found comfort in their faith. However in the wake of the scandal there is a clear, growing groundswell calling for major reform of the Catholic Church’s governance.

Nowhere clearer was the commission’s damning effect on a once mighty institution of western Victoria felt than in the 2016 census, which delivered a blunt critique of the Catholic Church’s standing within Ballarat.

December 10, 2017

The Reckoning, a major new podcast series on the child sexual abuse royal commission, launched by Guardian Australia.

The Guardian

December 10, 2017

[Press release from The Guardian Australia]

In his first podcast series, David Marr investigates the story of Australia’s world-first royal commission into how institutions concealed child abuse

A powerful podcast series on Australia’s royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse is launched today by Guardian Australia, investigating faith, money, abuse and power.

In his first podcast series, Guardian Australia’s award-winning writer and broadcaster David Marr examines how the commission came to investigate decades of child abuse, hidden by the Catholic church and other institutions.

As the royal commision prepares to deliver its final report after five years, Marr and Melbourne bureau chief Melissa Davey talk to victims, experts and participants in the royal commission to investigate: why was it necessary? What did it uncover? And what comfort can it give to the victims?

Most senior Catholic priest to be convicted of sex crimes in the UK found guilty on 19 charges

The Sun

December 11, 2017

By Oliver Harvey

Andrew Soper, 74, a former Abbot of Ealing Abbey who abused boys during the '70s and '80s, is the fifth person related to St Benedict's School to be convicted of sex crimes

THE implements on Father Laurence Soper’s desk looked like something from a medieval torture chamber rather than a master’s study at a leading Catholic school.

Led to his office on trumped- up misdemeanors, schoolboys blanched in horror at the sight of the “sadistic” monk’s cat-o’-nine-tails whip, canes and a leather strap.

Outwardly pious, Soper “cunningly” used corporal punishment as an excuse to pull down the boys’ trousers and sexually abuse them.

He even hoisted up his priestly robes to rape a 12-year-old boy over his desk at West London’s £5,368-a-term St Benedict’s School — then run by monks from Ealing Abbey.

Why Australia's royal commission on child sexual abuse had to happen – explainer

The Guardian

December 10, 2017

By Melissa Davey

The inquiry which investigated decades of sexual abuse in institutions delivers its final report on 15 December

What is the royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse?

The royal commission delivers its final report to the Australian governor general, Sir Peter Cosgrove, on 15 December, after five years’ work.

In 2012 the then prime minister, Julia Gillard, announced a royal commission into institutional responses into child sexual abuse, something survivors and their advocates had been seeking for years after allegations in Australia and in other countries, notably the US and Ireland. “There has been a systemic failure to respond to it,” Gillard said. “The allegations that have come to light recently about child sexual abuse have been heartbreaking. These are insidious, evil acts to which no child should be subject. There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil.”

While successive prime ministers said a royal commission was not needed because state inquiries and investigations had been held, Gillard ordered the commission after explosive allegations made by Peter Fox, a detective chief inspector within New South Wales police. In a letter to the Newcastle Herald, he wrote that victims of historical abuse were coming forward in increasing numbers.

Former Priest Sentenced to Life in 57-Year-Old Murder Case

KRGV-TV, Channel 5

December 8, 2017


A former priest convicted in a 1960 murder will spend the rest of his life behind bars.

The decision, the harshest sentence the jury could give 84-year-old John Feit, was unanimous just after four hours of deliberation.

On Friday, 21,055 days after Irene Garza was last seen alive, the Hidalgo County 92nd District Court was packed.

A jury was about to send a former priest to prison for life.

It took authorities 56 years to arrest Feit and another year to bring him to trial.

The night before the rare burst of snow fell on Deep South Texas, it had taken a jury, in a predominately Catholic region, just six hours to convict the former priest of murder.

It would take another four hours for the few family members Garza has left to hear a foreperson from the jury say, “For a term of life.”

Former Student of Irene Garza Speaks Out

KRGV-TV, Channel 5

December 9, 2017


A former student of Irene Garza spoke to CHANNEL 5 NEWS.

Garza was murdered in 1960. John Feit, a former priest, was convicted Thursday in her murder and sentenced to live in prison.

Garza's former student Maria Olivares now lives in California. She spent her early years in McAllen, where Irene Garza taught her in elementary school.

"She was kind, generous, and she did help all of us that she went down the aisle, making sure our work was done," said Olivares.

The former student said Garza would even buy students shoes when they needed them.

Olivares said she was devastated because she had a special bond with Garza since they both spoke Spanish.

Priest gets life sentence in cold-case murder of Texas beauty queen


By Jim Forsyth

December 8, 2017

A retired Catholic priest convicted of murdering a former beauty queen who came to him for confession was sentenced to life in prison by a jury in south Texas on Friday, local media reported, ending a cold case that has troubled the community for nearly 60 years.

John Feit, a visiting priest in McAllen, Texas, when the second-grade teacher came to him for confession during Holy Week in 1960, was convicted on Thursday of premeditated murder in the death of Irene Garza, then 25.

It was the maximum sentence possible for Feit, who was 27 at the time of the murder and is now 85, KRGV TV and The Monitor of McAllen reported.

Garza’s murder still haunts the communities that line the Rio Grande, across the river from Mexico.

Editorial: Let's have constructive conversations about sexual misconduct

The Guam Daily Post

December 10, 2017

Amid the tsunami of sexual harassment and assault allegations, our community should have constructive conversations about what all of these revelations mean.

The national media has put a spotlight on the pervasive problem in the entertainment industry.

Time magazine's Person of the Year cover honors individuals who reported sexual misconduct. The cover features singer Taylor Swift who countersued a DJ who groped her. Swift appears next to actress Ashley Judd, one of the first women to publicly accuse Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment.

The conversations should focus on changing the mindset. It's not OK for people in positions of power to abuse others.
In addition, the Time article includes early evangelists of the #MeToo movement that led to a worldwide discussion about sexual misconduct.

Here on Guam, the local media has chronicled church sex abuse lawsuits. Once-admired priests are now pariahs.

As more people share their stories, it's getting easier to talk about sexual harassment and assault. We must keep up the momentum and steer the dialogue in a positive direction.

The conversations should focus on changing the mindset. It's not OK for people in positions of power to abuse others. We must hold perpetrators accountable, and we must encourage victims to seek justice.

Ex-priest gets life in prison for 1960 parishioner slaying

Associated Press

December 9, 2017

A jury on Friday sentenced an 85-year-old former priest to life in prison for the 1960 killing of a schoolteacher and former beauty queen who was a member of the parish he served.

The same jurors in Hidalgo County in South Texas found John Bernard Feit guilty of murder Thursday night. Prosecutors asked jurors Friday for a 57-year prison term — one year for each year he had walked free since killing Irene Garza after she went to him for confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas.

The 25-year-old Garza disappeared April 16, 1960. Her bludgeoned body was found days later. An autopsy revealed she had been raped while unconscious, and beaten and suffocated.

Women tell of assaults, harassment in #ChurchToo

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

December 10, 2017

By Peter Smith

When United Methodists’ Council of Bishops met recently, it held break-out discussions on the topic of sexual harassment and misconduct in their churches.

The discussion had been scheduled before the Harvey Weinstein scandal unleashed a tsunami of revelations of sexual misconduct in media, politics and other fields, but the news of the day underscored the gravity of the discussions, said Pittsburgh Area Bishop Cynthia Moore-Koikoi.

“We had an opportunity to share our own stories,” Bishop Moore-Koikoi said. “For me to be able to say to my colleagues, ‘Me too,’ was valuable to hear.”

In both her previous career as a school psychologist and as a minister, “there have been times I have had unwanted advances from people who were my superiors.”

Call for immediate action on abuse inquiry

Australian Associated Press, appearing in the Daily Mail

December 10, 2017

The prime minister and premiers must act now to ensure reforms recommended by the child sexual abuse royal commission are not shelved or lost in politics, a key Catholic Church adviser says.

The church's Truth Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan has called on Malcolm Turnbull and state and territory leaders to immediately set up a COAG committee to implement the recommendations in the inquiry's final report, which will be released on Friday.

Mr Sullivan says once the report is in the public domain all participants including the Catholic Church need to implement the recommendations and it is up to Mr Turnbull to lead the way.

Why 'Silence Breakers' are key in any abuse crisis

Catholic News Agency

December 10, 2017

By Mary Rezac

This week, TIME Magazine announced a group of women and men as their collective Person of the Year.

What do these people have in common? They are what TIME called “The Silence Breakers” - people who have blown the whistle on sexual assault and abuse within the workplace, largely in the industries of film, politics, and media.

In recent months an avalanche of abuse allegations have been brought to light against powerful figures, starting most notably with a piece in the New York Times in which several women accused Hollywood producer Harvey Weinstein of sexual assault. This sparked a flood of men and women coming forward with other allegations of abuse against numerous people in positions of power.

“These silence breakers have started a revolution of refusal, gathering strength by the day, and in the past two months alone, their collective anger has spurred immediate and shocking results: nearly every day, CEOs have been fired, moguls toppled, icons disgraced. In some cases, criminal charges have been brought,” TIME reported.

Not long ago, the Catholic Church in the United States was reeling from its own sex abuse crisis. In the early 2000s, reporters at the Boston Globe broke the story of a former priest who was accused of molesting more than 100 boys over 30 years, which led to a large-scale uncovering of thousands more allegations of abuse in dioceses throughout the country.

Rescue Churchie: Parents, alumni outraged by sex payout

The Courier-Mail

December 10, 2017

By Peter Michael

One of Queensland’s most prestigious private schools is facing public revolt after it secretly apologised and paid out $130,000 to a convicted killer and conman over alleged historic child sex abuse.

Rescue Churchie, a group of about 1000 parents and alumni of Anglican Church Grammar School in East Brisbane, will this week launch a push to disband the school’s governing church council.

Some of Australia’s corporate titans including Qantas chairman and former Rio Tinto chief Leigh Clifford are behind the move to “end the dark ages” of church-appointed school governance.

Victims fear abuse royal commission report will be shelved

Australian Associated Press, appearing in news.com.au

December 10, 2017

By Megan Neil, AAP

Child abuse victims fear the $500 million royal commission’s final report later this week will be shelved and they may face a battle to get governments to act.

While survivors are grateful their voices have finally been heard and cover-ups exposed, there are concerns over what happens after the five-year institutions sexual abuse inquiry ends on Friday.

There is a lot of hope but also much anxiety and a real lack of certainty, survivor and activist Dr Cathy Kezelman says.

“The inquiry has provided a place where survivors felt that they had people who were looking after their interests,” the Blue Knot Foundation president said. “When the commission goes, who is going to take that position? Who will be able to keep ensuring that there are real changes to institutions, that institutions change in culture and structure and children are safe?

“We’re just hoping that a whole lot of people who put their hearts and souls on the line are not going to be let down.”

States and churches face $4bn abuse redress pressure

The Australian

December 11, 2017

By John Ferguson

The states and churches will be told to sign up to the commonwealth’s $4 billion sex abuse ­redress scheme this week as the royal commission hands down a landmark final report that will back overhauling the way offending against children is handled.

Social Services Minister Christian Porter said yesterday he was hopeful the states and institutions would sign up “in the not-too-­distant future’’ and that as many as possible would agree to opt in to the national scheme.

The royal commission will hand its final report to the ­Governor-General on Friday, but a formal government response will probably not be known for months. The government has not announced when the report will be made public, but when that happens there will be immense pressure applied to the states and institutions to sign up to provide victims with another layer of ­financial and counselling support.

How child abuse royal commission happened

Australian Associated Press

December 9, 2017


The Royal Commission is announced

Then prime minister Julia Gillard said there had been a systemic failure to respond to "vile and evil" child sexual abuse and a national response was appropriate.

"There have been revelations of child abusers being moved from place to place rather than the nature of their abuse and their crimes being dealt with," she said on November 12, 2012.

"There have been too many revelations of adults who have averted their eyes from this evil."

What was the lead-up?

Several inquiries investigated specific aspects of abuse, but none had looked at the problem across all institutions nationally.


NSW announced its own special commission of inquiry three days before the federal government said it was setting up a royal commission.

It followed Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox's call for a royal commission into allegations of child sex abuse at the hands of Catholic Church clergy in the Hunter region and cover-ups by police and the church.

It ultimately found no evidence to show senior police officers tried to block child abuse investigations.

Church reform not over after abuse inquiry

Australian Associated Press, appearing in the Daily Mail

December 9, 2017

The Australian Catholic Church must do more to atone for the widespread child sexual abuse within its ranks and its cover-up despite facing influential pockets of resistance, its key royal commission adviser argues.

The need for reform and change in the church is far from over despite the end of the five-year inquiry that exposed "a massive concealment exercise", Truth Justice and Healing Council CEO Francis Sullivan says.

"Church leaders can apologise until they're blue in the face but until they demonstrate by their actions that they sincerely want to atone for what's happened, no one will listen to them," Mr Sullivan told AAP.

"It will be on their heads if they don't step up and demonstrate that they are going to take the church in a direction that resonates with what the community and the royal commission believes to be a sensible and prudent approach."

Former priest gets life in prison for killing Rio Grande Valley beauty queen

San Antonio Express-News

December 9, 2017

By Aaron Nelsen

Jurors sentenced former priest John Feit to life in prison Friday for killing 25-year-old Irene Garza, bringing an end to a controversial case that languished for more than 50 years.

The sentence means Feit, now 85, likely will die behind bars.

Feit was convicted of murder with malice aforethought Thursday after a short trial that brought day after day of explosive testimony, including allegations that the then-district attorney struck a deal with the Catholic Church to stop investigating Feit to avoid a scandal that threatened to affect John F. Kennedy’s race for president. Kennedy became the first Catholic elected president later that year.

Garza was last seen going to confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen. Feit first denied, then admitted, that he had heard Garza’s confession on April 16, 1960, in the church rectory.

Photo Gallery: Life Sentence and Final Statements in John Feit's Murder Trial

The Monitor (McAllen TX)

December 8, 2017

Eighteen photos from the sentencing phase of John Feit's trial for the 1960 murder of Irene Garza in the 92nd state District Court Friday, December 8, 2017, at the Hidalgo County Courthouse in Edinburg.

See also the Monitor's displays of previous daily photo galleries from the trial: Day 6 (closing arguments and guilty verdict), Day 5, Day 4, Day 3, Day 2 and Day 1.

Former DA: No regrets about Feit case

The Monitor (McAllen TX)

December 9, 2017

By Naxiely Lopez-Puente

The former Hidalgo County district attorney who refused to take the Irene Garza case to trial said Thursday he wasn’t surprised the jury found John Feit, a former priest, guilty of the 1960 murder of the McAllen schoolteacher and beauty queen.

“I was not surprised,” Rene Guerra said shortly after the jury returned with a guilty verdict Thursday evening. “I found him guilty when the judge started admitting all sorts of hearsay evidence in the case — testimonials and all that kind of stuff.”

Guerra, the longest-serving district attorney in Hidalgo County history, alleged state District Judge Luis Singleterry admitted evidence that won't hold up in an appeals court.

“I was surprised that the jury took that long,” he said about the jury’s deliberation. “I don’t know that it will hold up in an appeal, but only God knows what’s going to happen.”

Guerra has long been haunted by the case, which likely contributed to his election loss in 2014, when current DA Ricardo Rodriguez Jr. unseated him after promising to pursue the case.

Rodriguez, who has now successfully brought the case to trial, equated Guerra’s decision to not try the case with a lack of compassion at a news conference Friday.

“If my predecessor had an ounce of sympathy in all his 30 years as DA he would have seen that the evidence was compelling enough to convict,” Rodriguez said. “It was right under his nose all this time; he just didn’t care.”

Ex-priest gets life in prison for 1960 parishioner slaying

The Associated Press

December 8, 2017

[Note: See also: the original of a stunning letter presented at trial that showed church-state collusion involving the Bishop of Austin and the Provincial of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate in the Southwest; and the McAllen TX Monitor's 12/6/2017 article about the letter.]

A jury on Friday sentenced an 85-year-old former priest to life in prison for the 1960 killing of a schoolteacher and former beauty queen who was a member of the parish he served.

The same jurors in Hidalgo County in South Texas found John Bernard Feit guilty of murder Thursday night. Prosecutors asked jurors Friday for a 57-year prison term — one year for each year he had walked free since killing Irene Garza after she went to him for confession at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in McAllen, Texas.

The 25-year-old Garza disappeared April 16, 1960. Her bludgeoned body was found days later. An autopsy revealed she had been raped while unconscious, and beaten and suffocated.

Prosecutor Michael Garza, who is not related to the victim, had asked the jury not to view the now elderly and weak Feit as he is today, but to try to imagine him as a 28-year-old man capable of subduing the woman.

The jury deliberated just over four hours Friday before deciding on the maximum sentence. Afterward, Garza said at a news conference that he wished that he could take credit for the conviction and sentence, "but it was God-driven."

Pastor, Christian festival founder abused minors for 16 years, authorities say


December 7, 2017

By Amanda Hoover

A church pastor is accused of sexually assaulting four minors over a 16-year period.

Harry L. Thomas, 74, of Medford Township, faces charges of aggravated sexual assault, sexual assault and endangering the welfare of a child, according to the Burlington County Prosecutor's Office.

The alleged assaults came to an end two years ago. Thomas is currently the pastor of Come Alive Church in Medford. He is also a co-founder of the Creation Festival, said to be the nation's largest Christian rock festival, first held in Pennsylvania in 1979.

Authorities said the assaults took place between 1999 and 2015 in Medford.

New Jersey pastor accused of sexually assaulting four kids

Fox News

December 7, 2017

By Nicole Darrah

A church pastor in New Jersey has been accused of sexually assaulting children during a 16-year period.

Harry Thomas, 74, the pastor of Come Alive Church in Medford Township, was arrested Wednesday, NJ.com reported.

Thomas has been accused of sexually assaulting four children in Medford between 1999 and 2015, the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office said.

No further information was released about the cases in order to protect the victims’ identities.

Thomas is being held in a medical facility for treatment, according to NJ.com.

Men came forward to abuse royal commission

Australian Associated Press, appearing in the Daily Mail

December 9, 2017


(Based on survivors who told their stories to the abuse royal commission in private sessions)

[See also the narratives of victims who told their stories to the Royal Commission in private sessions.]


* Most male (64 per cent)

* Outside of institutional settings, girls make up a higher proportion of victims

* 70 per cent of survivors of abuse in religious institutions male; 66 per cent for institutions managed by secular organisations; 55 per cent for government institutions

* More girls than boys abused in child care and health settings

* More boys than girls abused in places of worship, out-of-home care, social support services, juvenile justice and detention, educational, recreation, sports and clubs, armed forces and youth employment settings



* 10-14 most common age of first abuse (46 per cent of victims)

* 28 per cent abused when aged five to nine; five per cent aged under five

* 10 per cent abused when 15-17

* Female victims tended to report that abuse began at younger age than male victims

Inquiry shone spotlight on child sex abuse


December 10, 2017

Gabrielle Short hopes Australia doesn't forget. But more than anything she hopes it never happens again.

She is one of the tens of thousands of children sexually abused in more than 4000 Australian institutions.

The children who were not believed or were too scared to tell anyone, often for decades, if ever.

The organisations that turned a blind eye to the abuse as they put their reputation ahead of the protection of children.

The crimes. The cover-ups. The denials. The inaction or inadequate and unjust responses.

A national tragedy perpetuated over generations within many of Australia's most trusted institutions, to use the words of the judge who led the five-year child abuse royal commission.

This is not a case of a few "rotten apples".

Hundreds of charges from abuse inquiry

Australian Associated Press, appearing in the Daily Mail

December 9, 2017

Hundreds of people may be charged with child abuse thanks to a royal commission that advocates say has already helped victims achieve some justice by uncovering the truth.

The five-year inquiry has referred 2559 matters to the authorities, mostly the police.

So far 204 prosecutions have been commenced.

Hundreds more are currently under investigation and hundreds are awaiting investigation.

However, the royal commission has cautioned that in many cases the matters may not result in prosecutions because the offender has died or there are other difficulties in commencing criminal proceedings.

Diocese scores low on openness

The Brownsville Herald

December 9, 2017

By Steve Clark

New website in development

[Read VOTF's full report, Measuring and Ranking Diocesan Online Financial Transparency, and read VOTF's press release summarizing the results.]

The Catholic Diocese of Brownsville was among the lowest scoring U.S. dioceses in terms of online financial transparency, according to a study released Nov. 7 by Voice of the Faithful, a nonprofit group originally formed to support survivors of clergy sexual abuse but which also advocates for “accountability and transparency” in how the church handles its financial resources.

However, a spokeswoman for the diocese said an initiative was already underway to make more financial information available online.

The Brownsville diocese scored 10 out of 60 possible points in the study conducted by the VOTF Finance Working Group, which surveyed all 177 U.S. diocese websites and found “a level of openness well below what could be reasonably expected of an organization anywhere near the size of the U.S. Catholic Church.”

December 9, 2017

Catania. Ragazzini abusati durante riti religiosi, le madri: «E' una purificazione». Arrestato un santone

Il Messaggero

December 8, 2017

[Google Translate: Catania: little boys abused during religious rites, mothers: "It is a purification." A holy man arrested. The Catania Public Prosecutor has issued a notice concluding investigations of the "12 apostles" investigation for alleged sexual abuse of minors consumed within a Catholic-inspired community. ...]

La Procura di Catania ha emesso un avviso di conclusione indagini dell'inchiesta "12 apostoli" per presunti abusi sessuali su minorenni consumati all'interno di una comunità di ispirazione cattolica. Sono sette le persone raggiunte dal provvedimento, che si proclamano innocenti. Tra loro il 'santonè Piero Alfio Caruana, bancario in pensione di 73 anni, alla guida della comunità che avrebbe abusato di ragazzine di età compresa tra 13 e 15 anni, in alcuni casi con la complicità delle madri delle vittime, sostenendo che il rapporto sessuale non era un abuso, ma un atto purificatorè compiuto da un 'Arcangelò reincarnato.

KCK priest accused of inappropriately touching young girl to stand trial

KSHB-TV, Channel 4

December 8, 2017

A district judge ordered a KCK priest who is accused of inappropriately touching a young girl to stand trial.

Father Scott Kallal was in his mid-30s when prosecutors say he inappropriately touched a then 11-year-old girl. The alleged incident happened in 2015 in the gym at St. Patrick’s Catholic Church.

The now 13-year-old girl was in court Friday. She said Kallal tickled her and touched her breasts. She told him to stop and ran out of the gym and into the bathroom. The girl said Kallal followed her, pushed open the door to the bathroom st