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May 31, 2020

Reporting abuse — the church’s blind spot

Church Executive

May 28, 2020

By Gregory Love & Kimberlee Norris

When in doubt, REPORT.

If every allegation of child sexual abuse was simply reported by church leaders to appropriate authorities, the resulting positive impact would be immeasurable.

Survivors of abuse would feel validated — by itself a significant positive outcome — pathways to healing would open, future victims would be spared and abusers would be revealed. Criminal behavior would be investigated and prosecuted, and elements of real accountability put in place. When ministry leaders simply report suspicions and allegations of sexual abuse, the church is perceived as a sanctuary where God’s love and justice are demonstrated.

Why is reporting such a stumbling block for the church? Why is it so difficult?

Answer: ministry leaders must gain understanding and take action.

Inside stories: Lawyers on the trials of the Pell case

Law Institute Journal

June 1, 2020

By Karin Derkley

In a sexual abuse case that has polarised opinion, for the solicitors working on both sides it has been business as usual.

When the High Court announced on 7 April that it would uphold Cardinal George Pell’s appeal against his County Court conviction for sexual abuse of two choirboys in the 1990s, it drew a line, for now, under years of work for the solicitors who have been intimately involved in the case. It has been a case that has polarised opinion, has had international notoriety and involved controversy on a number of levels.

But while it has been hard to ignore its high profile nature, for those working on the case or advising those involved in it, it has been business as usual – working through the evidence and mustering the framework for the prosecution or the defence case, or dealing with the incredible public interest the case has attracted.

Church orders French paedophile priest Preynat to compensate victims


May 31, 2020

The Ecclesiastical Court of Lyon has paved the way for the compensation of victims of French ex-priest Bernard Preynat, convicted in March for the sexual assault of minors.

In a sentence handed down on Thursday but made public two days later, 21 people assaulted by Preynat between 1971 and 1991 are to receive an unspecified amount of compensation.

Quoting a spokesman for the diocese, the French press agency AFP said Preynat would be made to compensate his victims himself. If that is not possible, the process is to go via another compensation system.

The former chaplain of Sainte-Foy-lès-Lyon was sentenced to five years in prison in March after standing accused of sexually abusing some 75 boys when he worked as their scout chaplain.

Preynat’s victims later presented "a request for compensation" to the archdiocese for the damage suffered.

Despite the Ecclesiastical Court’s decision, François Devaux, president of the Parole Libérée NGO fighting paedophilia by priests, told FranceInfo radio the church had “completely dissociated itself” from Preynat while ordering him to “bring financial compensation to his victims that he will probably not be able to pay”.

The diocese has a “real and heavy responsibility" in the Preynat affair, Devaux added.

In July last year Preynat was defrocked, or "dismissed of the clerical state" – the heaviest sentence that can be pronounced by the church.

Polish priests defy bishop amid pedophilia scandal

Deutsche Welle

May 30, 2020

Priests in the Polish diocese of Kalisz have refused to sign letters of loyalty to their bishop after a child abuse cover-up. More and more Catholics in Poland are calling on the Church to properly investigate crimes.

The documentary "Hide and Seek" by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, which was watched by almost 7 million people on YouTube within a week, continues to make waves in Poland.

The film tells the story of two brothers who were sexually abused by a priest in the diocese of Kalisz in central Poland in the 1990s. They were 7 and 13 years old at the time. The documentary makes it clear that the local bishop, Edward Janiak, knew about the abuse and swept the scandal under the carpet. The filmmakers uncovered dozens of other cases in the diocese as well.

After the film's premiere, the diocese's council of priests, which acts as an advisory body to the bishop, was called upon to sign letters of loyalty to him. But the members of the council refused. They stated that they first wanted to wait for the results of a Vatican investigation, launched after Poland's Catholic primate, Wojciech Polak, had informed the authorities there of the abuse accusations.

Priestly resistance

The letters of loyalty from the priests' council would have been important to investigators as evidence of support for the bishop, who is accused of trying to cover up the scandal. The fact that the priests are refusing to back their bishop in this way is unusual, the Polish theologian and ex-Jesuit Stanislaw Obirek told DW.

"These priests have shown great courage, which is a rarity in the hierarchical church structure," he said. In his opinion, their actions could contribute to getting the bishop suspended.

Explaining the Vatican’s lingering ambivalence on “zero tolerance”


May 31, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

“Zero tolerance” for sexual abuse has become one of those notoriously elastic phrases, such as “change,” “hope” and “progress,” which everyone claims to be for but no one seems to define in exactly the same way.

In American Catholic parlance, however, the term “zero tolerance” does have a fairly precise meaning, derived from the US bishops’ 2002 Dallas charter and norms: Permanent removal from ministry, and, in most cases, laicization, for even one justified allegation of sexual abuse of a minor.

In that sense, “zero tolerance” remains a contested point. To this day, a central plank in the indictment of many abuse survivors and their advocates is that the Vatican has not imposed a universal “zero tolerance” policy everywhere in the world, which is often taken as a sign of reluctance to reform.

In part, such perceptions are rooted in memory. When the abuse scandals broke out in the United States in 2002, several Vatican officials initially dismissed them as a uniquely “American problem” and described the “zero tolerance” policy as a legalistic and Puritanical American overreaction.

That knee-jerk response was entirely about deflection and denial, and so the association between opposition to zero tolerance and “not getting it” was forged.

Diocese of Scranton’s financial future uncertain

The Citizens Voice

May 31, 2020

By Frank Wilkes Lesnefsky

In the wake of the 2018 grand jury sex abuse report, the Diocese of Scranton faced a staggering deficit of $27.6 million and the lowest donations in 15 years when it ended its fiscal year on June 30.

Less than a year later, the diocese sold $27 million in property, covering its deficit. Donations began to rebound. The Scranton diocese appeared to be on solid ground — unlike 27 dioceses across the country forced to file for bankruptcy amid sex abuse scandals requiring compensation to victims over the past 16 years.

Then, COVID-19 hit Northeast Pennsylvania.

The coronavirus pandemic forced the Most Rev. Joseph C. Bambera, bishop of the diocese, to close all 118 parishes across the 11-county diocese on March 16, leaving churches with empty pews and shallow collection plates.

While diocesan officials are confident they will weather the pandemic, financial uncertainty looms.

Times-Shamrock newspapers analyzed 15 years of audits and financial statements for the Diocese of Scranton’s administrative offices from 2004 through 2019,. Diocesan fiscal years are July 1 through June 30. The financial documents detail the ups and downs of the diocese’s finances and can help predict its financial security.

Audits do not include individual parishes, which act as separate diocesan entities, and diocesan organizations, such as Catholic Social Services and the Catholic School System, which are maintained separately from the administrative offices.

Dioceses often operate under a hierarchic, centuries-old Canon Law system that long predates modern corporate law, said Marie T. Reilly, J.D., a professor of law and bankruptcy attorney at Penn State University. Bishops will hire and fire priests, sit as members of parish boards and control financial decisions, but parishes and the like do not fall under diocesan assets — a notion courts have always upheld, she said.

‘I have no faith in the Catholic Church but I prayed when I’d Covid-19’

Irish Times

May 30, 2020

By Patsy McGarry

How is the coronavirus pandemic affecting religious beliefs, or the lack thereof?

[PHOTO: Clerical abuse survivor Marie Kane says when she was ill ‘I found comfort in my little ritual of lighting a candle and praying to a God I thought had no time for me as a young girl.’]

It’s over two months since churches, mosques, and synagogues in Ireland were closed for public worship. For Christians, Easter 2020 took place behind closed doors and online only with baptisms, weddings, and ordinations postponed. In the Catholic Church annual First Communions and Confirmations were also postponed.

Ramadan in Ireland this year was mainly a private affair with all related gatherings in mosques called off, as well as any large Eid celebration marking its end. For Jews in Ireland, Passover in April and Shavuot at the end of May were also mainly private.

This absence of public religious gatherings, as well as the lockdown generally over the past 10 weeks, has allowed people to consider deeply their most profound beliefs, or the lack thereof. The Irish Times asked on social media for people’s reflections on what impact the Covid-19 pandemic was having their beliefs. Here is a selection of the replies.

Marie Kane, a clerical abuse survivor who met Pope Francis at the Vatican Rome in 2014:

“I’m not a fan of the Catholic Church and my journey hasn’t been an easy road. Meeting Pope Francis really didn’t help me with my journey of finding my faith. However, having had Covid-19 and being extremely ill for four weeks, I have to say I prayed for my health. I admit it was out of fear but as days of isolation went by. It’s what got me through.

“I found comfort in my little ritual of lighting a candle and praying to a God I thought had no time for me as a young girl. Somehow, now recovered, back to work and having got my fitness back, I’m feeling very grateful and blessed to be still here.

“From being a young girl who wanted to die to an adult woman, mother, grandmother-to-be, daughter, friend, who is happy to be here still. So, my faith in the Catholic Church is gone 100 per cent, but my faith in God has been found.”

French Catholic writer wants to be first female archbishop

DPA (Deutsche Presse-Agentur) via Herald Mail

May 30, 2020

A French Catholic writer and lay activist is putting herself forward to be the first female archbishop in the Catholic Church.

Anne Soupa, 73, has declared her candidacy for the archbishopric of Lyon — the most senior in the French Catholic Church.

The position has been vacant since March, when Pope Francis accepted the resignation of Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, acquitted on appeal on charges of covering up sex abuse by a former priest.

“I don’t know if the church authorities will … react positively or at least constructively, but what I do know is that my candidacy is very serious,” Soupa told dpa.

Under the Catholic Church’s canon law, bishops must have served as priests for five years, and only men can be ordained priests.

May 30, 2020

Detective sacked for nabbing predator priest sues police chief


May 29, 2020

By Christine Niles

A detective whose work landed a predator priest in jail is suing his police chief for retaliation.

"I'd like to make sure police officers know they have rights too and encourage them to always do what's right, no matter what the cost," said Detective Brian Berg, formerly chief detective of the Tittabawassee Police Department in Michigan, in comments to Church Militant. "I also want my reputation I've worked my whole life for restored."

Berg led the investigation of Saginaw priest Fr. Robert DeLand, currently serving 2–15 years in prison for sex abuse. The priest was arrested in February 2018 after Berg's four-month covert operation, which included damning audio recordings of the priest's sexual grooming and assault of the male victim. The undercover sting led to DeLand's arrest in February 2018 and his conviction last year.

Church Militant first aired the audio recordings in a special report in May 2019, which revealed disturbing conversations by the priest encouraging the teen to watch gay pornography and engage in homosexual activity, as well as the priest's offer of cash, gifts, cigarettes, alcohol and drugs to the underage male.

Jaime Concha: La justicia civil anda mejor que la justicia de la iglesia

[Jaime Concha: Civil justice works better than church justice]

Kairós News

May 30, 2020

El médico sobreviviente de abusos sexuales en el caso de los maristas, hoy lucha por la vida de sus pacientes con coronavirus en la región de Valparaíso y aplaude los avances logrados por la Fiscalía. De la iglesia y del Vaticano, ya nada espera.

“Ha pasado más de un año que el Papa Francisco tomó el caso marista, se lo entregó a la Congregación de Doctrina de la Fe para que procediera, y todavía no han sido capaces de sacar conclusiones y emanar un informe técnico como el que ya existe en nuestro país”, denuncia el doctor Jaime Concha, coordinador de la Red de Sobrevivientes de Abuso Sexual Eclesiástico de Chile.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The doctor who is a survivor of sexual abuse in the case of the Marists fights today for the lives of his patients with coronavirus in the Valparaíso region and applauds the progress made by the Prosecutor's Office. From the church and the Vatican, nothing is expected.

[“More than a year has passed since Pope Francis took the Marist case, handed it over to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith to proceed, and they have not yet been able to draw conclusions and issue a technical report like the one that already exists in our country," denounces Dr. Jaime Concha, coordinator of the Network of Survivors of Ecclesiastical Sexual Abuse in Chile .]

A year later, most of documents seized in a raid of Dallas diocese offices ordered returned as sexual assault investigation continues

Dallas Morning News

May 29, 2020

By David Tarrant

One of the five former priests named in the May 2019 search warrant was arrested in January.

[PHOTO: Dallas Catholic Diocese Chancellor Greg Caridi accepts boxes of documents that police had seized on May 15, 2019. State District Judge Brandon Birmingham ordered that any record that “exceeds the scope of the search warrant as written,” to be returned by police to the diocese. Some records were also exempt from disclosure because they were protected by attorney-client privilege. This shipment of boxes was returned to the diocese's pastoral center on Nov. 7, 2019. Another shipment was returned Jan. 21, 2020.]

A year after police searched Dallas Catholic Diocese offices for records related to allegations of sexual abuse by priests, most of the documents seized in the raid were returned to the church as beyond the scope of the police investigation. And charges have been filed against only one of the five former priests, who are targets of the investigation.

Dallas Bishop Edward Burns condemned the May 15, 2019 raid, which involved dozens of law enforcement officers, as “unnecessary and sensational,'' in a statement released by the diocese Thursday.

Church officials had already provided personnel files “for all the priests named in the warrant,” and had been cooperating with the police requests, Burns said in the statement, which reported that “99 % of the items seized” were returned to the diocese.

State extends window for suing child sex abusers, with 81 cases in Queens so far

Queens Daily Eagle

May 30, 2020

By David Brand

State lawmakers voted Wednesday to extended a so-called lookback window that allows survivors of childhood sex abuse to sue the perpetrators, regardless of when the abuse occurred.

The Child Victims Act took effect in August 2019, opening a one-year window for survivors to file civil complaints against their alleged abusers or the institutions that enabled the abuse. Lawmakers voted to extend the window until August 2021 to account for a two-month filing freeze that resulted from the COVID-19 court shutdown.

“This is a giant step forward for New York and, more broadly, the Child Protection Movement,” said attorney Jeff Anderson, who specialized in CVA cases and other litigation involving child sex abuse.

The state Senate voted unanimously to extend the measure, a significant departure from the members’ positions on the bill in recent years.

Lawmakers, particularly members of the Republican Party, repeatedly killed the bill amid pressure from groups like the Catholic Church and Boy Scouts of America. The Senate voted in favor of the measure in January 2019, after Democrats took control of the chamber.

'Look what he's taken from me': the deadly toll of Catholic church sex abuse on Guam

The Guardian

May 29, 2020

By Anita Hofschneider

There are now nearly 300 sexual abuse lawsuits against more than 20 priests on the deeply religious island in the western Pacific

Roosters crow in the distance as Walter Denton gestures toward a white one-storey concrete building behind a church in Agat, a village in southern Guam.

“You know, just standing here, right behind you, that is where I was raped,” says Denton, 56.

It has been more than three years since Denton first went public with accusations that Guam’s former archbishop Anthony Apuron assaulted him, and even though he has told the story many times his voice is still heavy with emotion.

Denton says he was 12 or 13 years old and had fallen asleep in the church rectory, where Apuron had asked him to spend the night, and then “woke up screaming,” laying on his stomach with his hands pinned down and Apuron on top of him.

Denton says when the priest finally stopped, he offered to give Denton straight A’s in theology class.

May 29, 2020

Attorneys: Abuse victims getting low offers from Diocese of Pittsburgh's fund

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

May 29, 2020

By Peter Smith

Many people filing claims of sexual abuse by priests in the Roman Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh are being offered compensation amounting to only a “fraction” of what victims have received in other dioceses, according to attorneys representing many of them before an out-of-court compensation fund.

Attorney Alan Perer, who said he represents about 75 clients who applied to the fund, is accusing Bishop David Zubik and the diocese of breaking a promise to compensate victims fairly. He said initial payments from the program gave fair compensation to victims but that many of the current offers are significantly lower.

At issue is the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Fund established last year by the diocese in the wake of the 2018 statewide grand jury report into the decades-long histories of sexual abuse in Pittsburgh’s and five other dioceses. The fund is administered by an independent law firm, which makes the individual offers, while the total amount of money is provided by the diocese.

Mr. Perer said the first round of claimants — those who had already reported abuse to the diocese before the fund was established — received payments in the low six figures, which is similar to those from other dioceses.

Some still are receiving similar offers. But, he said, the majority of clients are now receiving offers of $40,000 or less, even those who suffered “horrendous” abuse, he said. Some are offered $7,500, he said.

“I am witnessing the new suffering of victims caused by the diocese’s broken promises,” Mr. Perer said in a written statement to the Post-Gazette. “Specifically, these are survivors of sexual abuse who trusted the diocese to offer fair and reasonable compensation through its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program. As the fund currently exists, however, Bishop Zubik has chosen to break another promise to survivors by limiting the fund’s ability to provide reasonable compensation to survivors.”

The diocese said in a statement:

“From the time that Bishop Zubik announced the creation of the Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Fund, it has been and remains our goal to assist as many victim/survivors as possible with the funds that we have been able to garner. The fund is and has been administered independently from the Diocese of Pittsburgh and claims to the fund are determined by the fund administrators, the Feinberg Law Group. Applying to the fund has been a voluntary option from the beginning. Accepting the determinations offered is likewise voluntary; any claimant who has questions about how their determination was reached would need to have that discussion with the fund administrator, who is making the determinations independently of the diocese.”

The diocese said it would release final figures on the fund distribution once it is completed.

Some 367 people filed claims with the diocese last year after it launched the IRCP.

The diocese hired the Washington-based law firm of Kenneth Feinberg, which has extensive experience administering large settlement funds, to review and decide on the distributions independently.

Camille Biros of the Feinberg firm said in a statement: “We continue to review and evaluate the few remaining claims for the Pittsburgh Program as independent administrators in the same manner as when the Program was first implemented. It is correct that there is limited funding but that in no way affects our independence.“

Mr. Perer said while some clients are accepting the offers, others are refusing them and preparing instead to sue.

While lawsuits over sexual abuse from decades ago would typically be barred by the statute of limitations, he and other lawyers already have several pending lawsuits against the diocese, using the legal theory that the diocese engaged in an ongoing fraud and conspiracy until recently, and that the statute of limitations would not apply. A similar lawsuit against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown, testing that legal theory, is now before the state Supreme Court.

With the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s compensation fund, the first set of claims evaluated were for people who had notified the diocese of their abuse in the years before the funds was established. Many of those payments to claimants were above $100,000 or even $200,000 per person, Mr. Perer said.

While not at the level that some juries have awarded abuse victims, such payments amount to “recognition of the harm, something that makes people feel their suffering is acknowledged,” Mr. Perer said.

More recently, he said some payments have been as high as $125,000.

But for many, he said the offers are “insulting.”

“You offer somebody $7,500 who was abused by a priest and lived with it for 40 to 50 years, it’s like double abuse,” he said.

Attorney Benjamin Andreozzi of Harrisburg, who also represents some clients who applied to the Diocese of Pittsburgh’s fund, also said many of the offers are “a fraction of what they paid in these other (dioceses’) programs.” He also plans lawsuits on behalf of some clients.

Both attorneys speculated the diocese is low on money. An Orphans’ Court judge last year blocked the diocese’s effort to put an $8 million-plus trust fund, earmarked for needy children, toward the compensation payments.

Some clients are feeling they have no choice but to take the compensation offered due to the recession, Mr. Perer and Mr. Andreozzi said.

“They’re laid off from jobs,” Mr. Andreozzi said. “They have needs.”

The Archdiocese of Philadelphia has so far paid out a total of $211,000 per claim in its program as of April, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. The Diocese of Greensburg paid an average of about $76,000 per person, according to its figures.

Latin American church workers: Pandemic turmoil increases child abuse

Lima Catholic News Service

May 28, 2020

By Eduardo Campos

Catholic missionaries in Latin America say they have noticed disturbing signs of an increase in child abuse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The social turmoil provoked by the disease and some of the restrictions imposed by governments to avoid the further spread of the virus may be amplifying the risks, they said.

On May 26, the World Health Organization said the Americas had become the new epicenter of the disease, as Brazil's daily death rate became the highest in the world. The organization is also concerned about the rising curves in countries like Peru, Chile and El Salvador.

Most countries in the region adopted social distancing measures in mid-March, including broad quarantines in Peru, Argentina and the Dominican Republic. Even in Brazil, where President Jair Bolsonaro has refused to federally impose such restrictions, state governors and city mayors suspended nonessential activities. Throughout the continent, schools are closed and children are at home.

Child Victims Act extended for another year amid courts shutdown

The Brooklyn Daily Eagle

May 29, 2020

By Rob Abruzzese

The Child Victims Act, the law that gave sexual abuse survivors a one-year window to sue for abuse they suffered past the statute of limitations, was officially extended on Wednesday by the State Legislature.

Advocates said that the extension was necessary as the COVID-19 pandemic had shut down the courts to all but emergency and essential applications, which limited the ability of victims to sue. The current bill extends the law for another year, but still needs to be signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo to take effect.

“The passage of the Child Victims Act remains one of the most historic victories for child abuse survivors in New York State, and the COVID pandemic nearly prevented countless survivors from ensuring accountability — but today’s vote proves that nothing can stand in the way of justice,” said James R. Marsh, a New York attorney who represents more than 700 childhood sexual abuse survivors statewide.

Victims group contacts La. governor to demand statewide investigation into pedophile priest allegations


May 28, 2020

By Kevin Foster

The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) reached out to Governor John Bel Edwards as part of its latest request for a statewide investigation into child sex abuse allegations involving religious authorities in Louisiana.

The request came in an email sent to the Edwards’ office, officials over Louisiana State Police (LSP), and members of the media.

SNAP is asking Gov. Edwards to direct LSP to lead the investigation, based on statements SNAP leaders said were made by Attorney General Jeff Landry.

Those statements suggest it would have to be LSP that performs the investigation, SNAP leaders said.

Protected by Decades-Old Power Structures, Three Renowned Harvard Anthropologists Face Allegations of Sexual Harassment

The Harvard Crimson

May 28, 2020

By James S. Bikales

Senior Anthropology professors Theodore C. Bestor, Gary Urton, and John L. Comaroff have weathered allegations of sexual harassment, including some leveled by students. But affiliates said gender issues in the department stretch beyond them.

In 1986, a group of professors writing for the journal Current Anthropology found that the country’s most elite anthropology programs, including Harvard’s, operated based on a “hierarchy of prestige” dominated by powerful tenured faculty.

Nearly 35 years later, it is in part that very hierarchy that has allowed three of Harvard’s senior Anthropology faculty — former department chairs Theodore C. Bestor and Gary Urton and professor John L. Comaroff — to weather allegations of sexual harassment, including some leveled by students, according to people with knowledge of the matter and documents obtained by The Crimson.

In 2018, a Harvard investigation found Bestor committed two counts of sexual misconduct during an interaction with a female professor at a 2017 conference at UCLA. Harvard’s Faculty of Arts and Sciences disciplined Bestor for the incident, but allowed him to return to work before completing required sanctions.

Spanish priest accused of abusing minors sought

Philippine Daily Inquirer

May 29, 2020

A Vatican diplomat has sought the help of Filipino bishops for information about a Spanish priest accused of abusing minors and believed to have been hiding in the Philippines.

Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Pope Francis’ envoy to Spain and Andorra, said Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz has gone missing and may have fled to the Philippines.

Catholic Archdiocese asks to have child abuse lawsuit dismissed, contends case filed too late


May 28, 2020

By Phil Archer


The Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston has asked to throw out a federal lawsuit filed by a man and woman who claim they were abused by a Conroe priest because it was filed too late.

The plaintiffs contend they were abused as children by Father Manuel La Rosa-Lopez in the 1990s. La Rosa-Lopez is currently facing five counts of indecency with a child for allegedly abusing three children.

The lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages from the Archdiocese of Galveston-Houston, claiming the church covered up allegations of abuse, and continued to allow La Rosa-Lopez access to children.

Lawyers for the Archdiocese filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit contending it was filed years after the statute of limitations ran out in 2011. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests says the archdiocese is trying to escape responsibility by relying on a legal technicality.

Former principal who warned of dangerous priest to sue Catholic church

Sydney Morning Herald

May 29, 2020

By Adam Cooper

If not for a principal's principles, Graeme Sleeman could have avoided 25 years of emotional and financial hardship.

"That's the thing that sticks in my neck the most," the 70-year-old told The Age. "I did the right thing but have lost absolutely everything."

In the 1980s, the Holy Family School in Doveton was prospering despite its disadvantaged setting, and Mr Sleeman – adored by pupils, admired by staff and parents – had the world "at my feet".

But the arrival of paedophile Peter Searson as parish priest in 1984 meant Mr Sleeman's primary focus was to shield his flock from danger.

After more than two years, Mr Sleeman resigned in frustration at having his repeated warnings dismissed. He never found another education job because, he believes, the Catholic church blacklisted him.

Over the following years, a brilliant career was ruined and his mental health plummeted to the point he considered suicide.

Two Cases Allege Abuse By Salamanca Teacher

The Post-Journal

May 29, 2020

By John Whittaker

Two lawsuits have been filed in state Supreme Court in Cattaraugus County alleging sexual abuse of two students by the same teacher almost 10 years apart.

The reopening of courts for civil litigation has meant Child Victims Act lawsuits have again begun trickling onto court dockets. None of the cases involve the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. Plaintiffs have filed two suits against the Salamanca City School District.

An unidentified plaintiff represented by Jeffrey R. Anderson and J. Michael Reck of Jeff Anderson and Associates P.A. of New York City allege that David Bemus, a now retired teacher at the Jefferson Street School of the Salamanca City School District, allegedly had unpermitted sexual contact with a 10-year-old child in 1977 and 1978.

Anderson and Reck allege that the school district should have learned that Bemus was allegedly unfit to work with children before allegedly sexually abusing their client or at least known they did not have sufficient information about whether or not there was a risk of child sex abuse for children attending the school. The lawsuit alleges negligence by the school district for employing Bemus when it should have been aware that Bemus allegedly posed a danger to children as well as failure to properly supervise the teacher. Anderson and Reck also allege negligent hiring for not investigating Bemus’ “propensity for the type of behavior” alleged by the plaintiff. There are also claims of negligent retention, negligent training and supervision

Berks lawmaker Mark Rozzi sues Allentown Diocese, alleging a priest sexually abused him when he was 13

Reading Eagle

May 28, 2020

By Karen Shuey

Berks County lawmaker Mark Rozzi filed a lawsuit this week against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, alleging that he was sexually abused by a priest when he was 13 years old.

The Muhlenberg Township Democrat has been open about channeling his struggle with the memory of the incident into fighting for legislation in the General Assembly that would allow victims to seek justice after the statute of limitations on such claims has expired. He has even championed a proposal that would amend the state constitution to get that done.

In the meantime, Rozzi is taking advantage of an apparent statute of limitations loophole to file his lawsuit.

In a similar case, a woman was allowed by the state Superior Court to file a claim against the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown despite exceeding the statute of limitations. The three-judge panel ruled in August that if a jury finds sufficient evidence that the defendant, in this case the church, fraudulently concealed information then the defendant cannot have a case thrown out because of expired statute of limitations.

May 28, 2020

St. Cloud diocese reaches settlement on abuse claims, will file for bankruptcy

Catholic News Agency

May 28, 2020

The Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota will pay $22.5 million into a trust for sexual abuse survivors, under a plan that involves filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

The diocese announced Tuesday that it had reached an agreement with abuse survivors on a framework for settling all abuse claims filed against the diocese and local parishes.

“This framework for resolution represents the diocese’s commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors of sexual abuse while continuing its ministry to those it serves throughout the 16-county diocese,” it said.

“I am particularly grateful to the survivors of abuse for their courage in coming forward and sharing their experiences, and I again apologize on behalf of the Church for the harm they suffered,” Bishop Donald Kettler of St. Cloud said in a statement

Ex-detective claims he was fired for investigating Catholic sex abuse case in Saginaw County


May 28, 2020

By Cole Waterman

A former police detective has filed a lawsuit against the township that previously employed him, alleging he was fired for investigating sexual assault allegations against now-imprisoned Catholic priest Robert J. DeLand Jr.

Brian J. Berg, through Detroit-based civil rights attorney Jonathan R. Marko, earlier in May filed suit in Saginaw County Circuit Court naming Tittabawassee Township and Tittabawassee Police Chief Dennis Green as defendants.

The suit alleges Berg, employed by the township’s police department since 2008, began investigating DeLand in November 2017 after receiving a complaint that the priest had had inappropriate contact with a minor. Berg met with Green regarding this, then with representatives of the Saginaw County Prosecutor’s Office, the lawsuit states. It was decided a joint investigation would be conducted with detectives from the Saginaw Township Police Department, as they, too, had received a similar complaint against DeLand, the lawsuit states.

Buffalo priest cleared to return to active ministry following abuse allegation


May 28, 2020

The Independent Review Board determined that allegation to be unsubstantiated.

Following an Independent Review Board recommendation, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, Apostolic Administrator of the Buffalo Catholic Diocese, has returned the Reverend Peter J. Karalus to active ministry.

Reverend Karalus had been placed on administrative leave following an allegation by a person who was a minor in 2011 when the incident allegedly occurred.

The Independent Review Board determined that allegation to be unsubstantiated. Officials say the Erie County District Attorney also investigated the allegation and found no basis for pursuing criminal charges.

Accused ex-priest fighting sex abuse allegations

The Guam Daily Post

May 29, 2020

By Nick Delgado

He was referred to as Father Joe San Agustin during a status hearing held virtually in the District Court of Guam on Thursday, and the former priest told the court that he still wants to take his case to trial.

The defendant, Joe R. San Agustin, also known as Andrew, is accused of sexually abusing a girl from Saipan who had visited Guam when she was 12. The alleged victim, who is now a woman, filed the civil action in 2017 and was identified in court documents through the initials B.T.

B.T. is represented by attorney Delia Lujan Wolff.

Buffalo bishop clears prominent priest accused of improper conduct

Buffalo News

May 28, 2020

By Dan Herbeck

Buffalo Diocese Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger has cleared a prominent priest of allegations of improper conduct with a minor and allowed him to return as vicar general.

The diocese said Thursday that an investigation into the allegation showed no wrongdoing by the Rev. Peter J. Karalus.

The claim involved a remark Karalus is accused of making while hearing the confession of a teenage male in 2011, multiple sources who are familiar with the case told The Buffalo News.

Pampanga archbishop Lavarias warns against on the prowl Spanish priest accused of sexual abuse


May 28, 2020

The Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga has alerted the clergy against a Spanish priest who is accused of molesting minors and reportedly fled from his home country.

In a circular dated May 26 but was released on Thursday, Archbishop Florentino Lavarias asked bishops, priests and the laity to help inquire on the whereabouts of Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz and report any information on the matter to his office.

This came after reports that Ruiz has gone missing and may have fled to the Philippines.

“There are reasons to worry about his presence in our country given the serious accusation against him of abuses of minors,” he said.

The circular was issued in response to the request of Filipino Archbishop Bernardito Auza, Pope Francis’ envoy to Spain, who has sought the help of Filipino bishops for information on Ruiz.

Archbishop Lavarias asks help from the public to find errant Spanish priest

Manila Bulletin

May 28, 2020

By Leslie Ann Aquino

A Spanish priest accused of abusing minors is believed to be here in the country.

San Fernando, Pampanga Archbishop Florentino Lavarias identified the priest as Rev. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz.

In a circular letter, he said Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra, Archbishop Bernardito Auza is asking for information on the whereabouts of the priest who disappeared.

“The Apostolic Nuncio to Spain and Andorra, Abp. Bernardito Auza, is asking some information about a certain Rev. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz, a Spanish priest who practically disappeared and said to be now in the Philippines,” said Lavarias.

“There are reasons to worry on his presence in our country given the serious accusation against him of abuses of minors,” he added.

Clergy alerted vs. Spanish priest accused of sexual abuse

Philippine News Agency

May 28, 2020

By Ferdinand Patinio

The Archdiocese of San Fernando in Pampanga has alerted the clergy against a Spanish priest who is accused of molesting minors and reportedly fled from his home country.

In a circular dated May 26 but was released on Thursday, Archbishop Florentino Lavarias asked bishops, priests and the laity to help inquire on the whereabouts of Fr. José Maximiano Campos Ruiz and report any information on the matter to his office.

Australia’s bishops seeking ‘whole-of-Church’ approach for child protection


May 28, 2020

By Christopher White

Plans are moving forward for the establishment of a national system for child protection within the Australian Catholic Church, according to a report following the meeting of the country’s Catholic bishops earlier this month.

The “National Response Protocol,” will develop a comprehensive system for reporting complaints of clergy abuse or misconduct and establish new guidelines for child protection policies.

Archbishop Mark Coleridge of Brisbane, current president of the Australian Catholic Bishops’ Conference, said that the new system will model a “whole-of-Church” approach, and involve key stakeholders from various sectors, including victim survivors and their families.

Task Force Created To Advise Springfield Diocese On Responding To Clergy Sex Abuse Allegations

WAMC Northeast Report

May 28, 2020

By Paul Tuthill

A task force has been announced to look at the response to sexual abuse within the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield.

Acknowledging the diocese has not always responded adequately to victims of abuse, Bishop Mitchell Rozanski said he is looking to the 10-person task force, which he said is made up of a “diverse group of distinguished individuals” to recommend how to improve.

"With the recommendations of this task force, it is my sincere hope that as the church of western Massachusetts we will be both proactive in preventing any type of abuse and respond with prompt action to any type of abuse allegation," said Rozanski.

Lawsuit Alleges School District Ignored Multiple Reports of Child Sexual Abuse By Teacher

The Legal Examiner

May 27, 2020

Patrick Daley, a former fifth-grade teacher, was convicted last October of sexually abusing eight boys over a three year period. He was sentenced up to 15 years in prison. Now, the family of one of the victims has filed a lawsuit against the Holt (Michigan) Public School district alleging that officials withheld information and did not take action against recurring inappropriate physical contact with students between 2015 and 2018.

Berks lawmaker sues diocese over sex abuse by priest

69 News

May 27, 2020

A Berks County lawmaker has filed a sexual abuse lawsuit against the Diocese of Allentown and its Holy Guardian Angels parish in Muhlenberg Township.

State Rep. Mark Rozzi said he was sexually abused by the Rev. Edward Graff in the 1980s, which is beyond the statute of limitations. His attorneys said they want to use a loophole in a similar suit, where the statute of limitations ran out.

Rozzi said he learned the diocese knew Graff had a history of abusing children after seeing the 2018 statewide grand jury report on clergy abuse.

Advocate for those abused by priests seek state police probe

Associated Press

May 28, 2020

An advocate for people abused by priests asked Gov. John Bel Edwards on Tuesday to direct the Louisiana State Police to conduct a statewide investigation of the Catholic church for its role in child sexual abuse cases.

Richard Windmann, leader of the state chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, made the formal request in a letter. He said his group had previously asked Attorney General Jeff Landry to “begin an impartial and secular investigation into cases of serial abuse and cover-up, but he is unwilling to help.”

Landry has said that he is unable to help unless a local district attorney asks for assistance, Windmann said. Landry has also stated that state police is the appropriate agency for such an investigation, he said.

Royal commission findings into suicide death withheld causing anguish for 94-year-old mother

Australian Broadcasting Corporation Newcastle

May 27, 2020

By Giselle Wakatama

Key points:
-- Andrew Nash's mother, Audrey Nash, wants to see royal commission findings into the local diocese but they have been withheld
-- The Catholic Church has acknowledged Andrew was abused
-- The Attorney-General says unless there is a good reason not to do so, royal commission findings should be published as soon as it is legally appropriate

The mother of a Newcastle abuse victim, whose suicide death was a focus of a 2016 royal commission probe, fears she will die before the findings are made public.

Andrew Nash died in 1974 when he was just 13.

The Marist Brothers and the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Diocese have accepted that he died by suicide after being sexually abused by Francis William Cable, known as Brother Romuald.

The 88-year-old is serving a lengthy jail term for abusing 24 boys and is eligible for parole when he his 94, the same age as Audrey Nash — the mother of Andrew.

Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield forms independent task force to advise Bishop Mitchell Rozanski on confronting reported clergy sex abuse


May 27, 2020

By Patrick Johnson

Bishop Mitchell T. Rozanski announced on Wednesday the creation of an independent task force to advise the Diocese of Springfield on the ongoing issue of sexual misconduct and abuse by clergy within the diocese.

The 10-member Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield will have retired Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Daniel Ford as chairman and Irene Woods, founding executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Franklin County and North Quabbin, as vice chairwoman.

Diocese of Springfield announces task force in response to sexual abuse allegations


May 27, 2020


Bishop Mitchell Rozanski, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield announced Wednesday the creation of a 10-person special Independent Task Force on the Response to Sexual Abuse within the Diocese of Springfield.

St. Cloud Diocese to file for bankruptcy, pay $22.5 million to abuse survivors

Minneapolis Star Tribune

May 26, 2020

By Matt McKinney

Payments, bankruptcy plan to be filed with court in coming weeks.

The Diocese of St. Cloud will pay $22.5 million to sexual abuse survivors and declare bankruptcy under the terms of a settlement agreement announced Tuesday.

The agreement, subject to a bankruptcy court filing expected in the next few weeks, addresses allegations made against 41 priests by some 70 survivors dating back to the 1950s.

Many of the clerics are now dead, though one was still in active ministry as recently as 2015 at St. Andrew’s Catholic Church in Elk River.

Attorney Jeff Anderson, who negotiated the settlement agreement on behalf of abuse survivors, said it amounts to “validation and affirmation” for those survivors, some of whom Anderson first represented in lawsuits filed in the 1980s.

St. Cloud diocese reaches agreement on sex abuse claims

Minnesota Public Radio

May 26, 2020

By Kirsti Marohn

The Catholic Diocese of St. Cloud announced Tuesday that it reached an agreement with survivors of clergy sexual abuse on a framework to settle their legal claims.

The diocese said the agreement includes a $22.5 million trust to compensate abuse survivors, along with a commitment that the diocese will file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection “in the near future.”

Jeff Anderson, an attorney representing about 70 survivors who filed claims against the central Minnesota diocese, said it’s been an “arduous journey” to reach an agreement

May 27, 2020

St. Cloud Diocese in Minnesota to Pay Abuse Victims $22.5M

The Associated Press

May 27, 2020

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Saint Cloud in Minnesota will pay sexual abuse victims $22.5 million and file for bankruptcy, according to a settlement agreement.

Some 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases that date back to the 1950s. If the bankruptcy plan is approved, the diocese will become the fifth of Minnesota’s six dioceses to settle its clergy abuse claims and declare bankruptcy.

Attorney Jeff Anderson negotiated the settlement agreement and terms were announced Tuesday. He said it gives validation to the victims, some of whom Anderson first represented in lawsuits filed in the 1980s, the Star Tribune reported.

Boy Scouts sexual abuse victims have until Nov. 16 to file claims for compensation

Knoxville News Sentinel

May 27, 2020

By Hayes Hickman

Attorneys have agreed to a deadline for victims to come forward with child sexual abuse claims in the ongoing Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case.

Victims now have until Nov. 16 to file their claims or forever be barred from seeking any compensation.

Boy Scouts of America filed for bankruptcy in February in an attempt to halt hundreds of abuse lawsuits filed in federal and state courts across the country, plus an additional 1,400 potential claims.

"No matter how long ago this abuse occurred, our message is: Don't let them take that from you," said attorney Andrew Van Arsdale with Abused in Scouting, a consortium of law firms representing more than 3,200 survivors in all 50 states.

Poland is shocked by pedophilia documentary


May 27, 2020

A priest sexually abused dozens of boys for years, and for years bishops covered it up. "Hide and Seek," a documentary by Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, reveals that this was what happened in the 1990s in the small town of Pleszew in central Poland. The filmmakers made their first film about pedophilia in the Church exactly one year ago, and in doing so broke one of Poland's biggest taboos.

This time, they tell the stories of the brothers Jakub and Bartek Pankowiak, whose father was the church organist in Pleszew in the 1990s. The parish priest at the time, Arkadiusz, was well-liked by the local youth and a frequent guest at the Pankowiaks' house — but when the parents weren't looking he would cuddle, caress, and kiss their sons. Bartek and Jakub were appalled, but did not confide in anyone for years about what had happened to them.
The Primate of Poland has informed the Vatican about new cases of pedophilia uncovered in a recent documentary. The Church and government are both under pressure following the revelation of what happened to the victims.

House advances 'landmark' bill to give sex assault victims unlimited time to sue

Colorado Politics

May 26, 2020

By Michael Karlik

The Colorado House of Representatives gave initial approval on Tuesday to a bill that would eliminate the civil statute of limitations for sexual misconduct going forward, including for sexual abuse of children.

“This is actually a landmark bill that you’re about to vote on,” said Rep. Matt Soper, R-Delta, one of the proposal’s sponsors. "One thing that we heard in committee is the horror stories: that it takes years for especially a child victim to be ever able to talk to authorities or to be able to talk to an attorney to raise a civil action.”

Pope Francis names Bishop Mark Edwards as new Bishop of the Diocese of Wagga Wagga

ABC Riverina

May 27, 2020

By Moyra Shields

The Auxiliary Bishop of the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne has been named the new head of the Catholic Diocese of Wagga Wagga - a position that has been vacant since 2016.

Bishop Gerard Hanna retired early in September 2016 due to ill health, soon after he told the child sexual abuse Royal Commission about a priest in Tamworth he told to keep away from children.

Two years later Australia's former ambassador to the Vatican, the late Tim Fischer, described the ongoing vacancy as a disgrace and linked it to a failure to deal with sexual abuse by the clergy.

Pope Francis last night appointed 60-year-old Bishop Mark Edwards the sixth bishop of Wagga Wagga, a diocese that stretches from Griffith to Tocumwal and Albury to Tumbarumba.

Report Suggests High-Ranking Australian Priest Covered Up Decades of Abuse Within Catholic Church

Legal Examiner

May 27, 2020

Weeks after Cardinal George Pell was released from jail, a newly release report suggests that he knew of child sex abuse by Australian priests as early as the 1970s but failed to take action to stop it.

Pell, an ex-Vatican treasurer, is the highest-ranking Roman Catholic leader ever found guilty in the church’s clergy pedophilia crisis. In March 2019, he was sentenced to six years in prison for molesting two 13-year-old boys after Sunday Mass in 1996. Then, in a devastating April 2020 ruling, Australia’s High Court overturned the 78-year-old cardinal’s conviction. The Court claimed the jury, who had unanimously found the victim’s testimony credible, ought to have entertained a doubt about Pell’s guilt since only one of his victims was alive to testify.

The new findings on Cardinal Pell come from Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which began in 2012 and ended in 2017. A court had previously redacted the report because Pell was facing child abuse charges at the time, but according to the BBC, it was allowed to be made public once the charges were dropped.

Catholic diocese in Minnesota to pay sexual abuse victims $22.5m

Associated Press

May 27, 2020

Diocese is filing for bankruptcy as part of settlement, after 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases dating to 1950s

The Roman Catholic diocese of Saint Cloud in Minnesota will pay sexual abuse victims $22.5m and file for bankruptcy, according to a settlement agreement.

Some 70 people say they were abused by 41 priests in cases that date back to the 1950s.

If the bankruptcy plan is approved, the diocese will become the fifth of Minnesota’s six dioceses to settle its clergy abuse claims and declare bankruptcy.

'Vos Estis' at one year: Some question pope's process for investigating bishops

National Catholic Reporter

May 27, 2020

By Joshua J. McElwee

It is a bit early to assess the effect of Pope Francis' new global system for how the Catholic Church evaluates reports of clergy sexual abuse or cover-up by individual bishops, say canon lawyers who spoke to NCR.

They also raised questions about the new process, first established in May 2019, which involves the empowering of archbishops to conduct investigations of prelates accused in their local regions.

Among their main concerns with the procedure, outlined in Francis' motu proprio Vos Estis Lux Mundi ("You Are The Light Of The World"): the possible bias that can arise in asking one prelate to investigate another, and whether there has been an appropriate level of transparency about bishops who are being investigated.

Nicholas Cafardi, a civil and canon lawyer who was a member of the U.S. bishops' original National Review Board, highlighted the latter point.

Mentioning that the procedure does not mandate that Catholics necessarily be told when a bishop is being investigated, Cafardi said: "It seems to me that the faithful have a right to know if somebody is a possible danger."

Erie diocese wants out of NY lawsuit against Trautman


May 26, 2020

By Ed Palattella

Catholic Diocese of Erie says it has no link to cover-up claims related to retired bishop’s tenure in Buffalo diocese.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie is asking a judge to dismiss a lawsuit in New York that tries to connect the diocese to claims that retired Erie Catholic Bishop Donald W. Trautman covered up clergy sex abuse of a minor when he was a top official in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo in the 1980s.

The suit also names Trautman as a defendant, though the claims against him mostly pertain to his tenure in the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo. The suit alleges the abuse took place there about six years before Trautman was named the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Erie, in 1990.

The Catholic Diocese of Erie wants a judge to remove it as a defendant, arguing that Trautman was working for the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo at the time and that the claims relate to the Buffalo diocese.

Catholic priest sexual abuse survivor suing Oakland Diocese and East Bay churches

The Mercury News

May 27, 2020

By Joseph Geha

Complaint alleges diocese, churches were negligent about “predator priests”

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Oakland and two East Bay churches are the target of a lawsuit by a young man who was sexually abused by a priest when he was a child, his attorney said Tuesday.

In a complaint recently filed in Alameda County Superior Court, the victim seeks unspecified damages against the the Diocese, St. John’s Catholic Church in San Lorenzo, and Corpus Christi Church in Fremont, accusing them of negligence in not protecting children like him from “predator priests.”

The complaint also includes new details about the abuse the man, referred to as John Doe in the complaint for privacy, said he experienced when he was 14 and 15 at the hands of Hector David Mendoza-Vela, also known as the Rev. David Mendoza-Vela, 43, who worked at both churches.

“Our allegation is that the church had many opportunities to prevent this from happening, and once it started happening, to end it,” John Winer, the victim’s attorney said about the abuse in an interview Tuesday.

Catholic psychologist calls domestic violence ‘pandemic within a pandemic’

Catholic News Service via America

May 26, 2020

By Gina Christian

Amid global coronavirus lockdowns, domestic violence has emerged as "a pandemic within a pandemic," said Catholic clinical psychologist Christauria Welland.

"Our rates in the U.S. for physical and sexual violence against women were already at one in three," she said. Based in California, Welland has counseled both those who are abused and their abusers for decades.

During periods of economic crisis and natural disasters, such rates tend to rise, said Welland, adding that the coronavirus has aggravated conditions for domestic abuse, also known as "intimate partner violence."

Judge denies Delbarton School's request to find new sex abuse law unconstitutional


May 26, 2020

By Abbott Koloff

A New Jersey law that took effect in 2019 lifts the statute of limitations on decades-old sexual abuse claims. NorthJersey

A judge has denied a challenge to a law that loosened restrictions on civil sex abuse complaints — allowing a lawsuit to continue against the order that runs the Delbarton School and clearing the way for dozens of similar cases against the Catholic Church and other institutions to go forward in state courts.

The lawsuit against Delbarton was filed more than two years before New Jersey extended the civil statute of limitations for sex abuse cases — and suspended it altogether for two years. Dozens of sex abuse lawsuits have been filed since the law took effect on Dec. 1, 2019, many of them against the Catholic Church for alleged abuse from decades ago.

Attorneys for St. Mary's Abbey and the Order of St. Benedict argued that the suspension of the statute of limitations is unconstitutional and asked the judge to dismiss the case. Alternatively, they asked for a hearing to determine whether the accuser met the requirements of the old statute — which had been in effect when the suit was filed.

Australian journalists face court date over Pell trial coverage

Catholic News Agency

May 26, 2020

A judge in the Australian state of Victoria has proposed beginning a trial in November to prosecute journalists and media outlets for violating a court-imposed reporting ban on the trial of Cardinal George Pell in 2018.

Victoria Supreme Court Judge John Dixon said Tuesday that the trial could begin as soon as November 9, but prosecutors and lawyers for the journalists are still disputing the terms of the trial, Reuters reported.

Prosecutors allege that 19 individuals and 21 media outlets assisted in the violation of the gag order by overseas media and are seeking a single trial. Lawyers representing the accused journalists contend that separate allegations need to be heard in individual trials. Penalties for violating court gag orders include fines of up to 100,000 Australian dollars ($66,000) and five years in prison for individuals.

May 26, 2020

New suit alleging sexual abuse by an Allentown priest uses a loophole in hopes of getting around statute of limitations

The Morning Call

May 26, 2020

By Laurie Mason Schroeder

Relying on a loophole that could open the floodgates for other victims years, or even decades, after the statute of limitation on such claims has expired, Berks County state Rep. Mark Rozzi on Tuesday filed a lawsuit against the Allentown Diocese and Holy Guardian Angels Parish in Reading, saying he was sexually abused by a priest in the 1980s, when he was 13 years old.

Rozzi’s attorneys say they are relying on an August state Superior Court ruling that allowed a similar lawsuit, based on new information from the 2016 grand jury report on the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese, to move forward. In that ruling, a three-judge panel gave a woman’s lawsuit against the diocese the green light even though is was filed well beyond the statute of limitations, which gives a person until their 30th birthday to file a civil case alleging abuse from childhood.

“For so many years the darkness within the Catholic Church and its hierarchy prevented allegations of sexual misconduct from becoming public,” said Rozzi’s attorney, Benjamin D. Andreozzi.

He said Rozzi was “appalled” to learn about his alleged abuser’s history of misconduct in the 2018 statewide grand jury report on clergy abuse, which identified about 300 predator priests and more than 1,000 victims, and pledged to take action.

SNAP asks governor to order state investigation of church


May 26, 2020

The Louisiana chapter of SNAP has asked Gov. John Bel Edwards to direct State Police to investigate the Catholic Church.

The organization, which represents and speaks for survivors of sexual abuse by priests, believes that the recent declaration of bankruptcy by the Archdiocese is an effort to seal evidence in sex abuse cases.

In a letter, the state's SNAP president, Richard Windmann, pleads with Edwards to direct State Police to conduct "a statewide investigation of the Catholic church."

Israel court rules Australia sex crimes suspect fit to stand trial


May 26, 2020

An Israeli court ruled Tuesday that an Orthodox Jewish teacher accused of child sex abuse in Australia was mentally fit to stand trial, bringing her closer to extradition after years of legal battles.

The decision was hailed by alleged victims who have campaigned for years for Malka Leifer to be sent back to face trial.

Jerusalem district court judge Chana Lomp said that she had "decided to accept the expert panel's opinion, the defendant is fit to stand trial".

Lomp set July 20, 2020 as the date for the renewal of the extradition process.

Leifer, who was not in court on Tuesday, is accused of child sex abuse while she was a teacher and principal at an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, where she had emigrated from her native Israel.

Israeli court finds sex crime suspect wanted by Australia faked mental illness


May 26, 2020

An Israeli court ruled on Tuesday that a former principal of an Australian school accused of sexually assaulting students is mentally fit to face trial in Australia and her extradition case can resume.

Malka Leifer had claimed mental illness in fighting her return to Australia, and the case has dragged on in Israel since 2014. Leifer, who was the principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school in Melbourne, has denied the allegations against her.

The Jerusalem District Court, which had ordered a series of psychiatric examinations, said Leifer was "faking" mental disability and was fit to stand trial, accepting the position of the prosecution.



May 26, 2020

By Jennifer Lewerenz

The Diocese of St. Cloud says they have reached framework for a settlement for victims of clergy abuse.

In a news release from the diocese, it says, "the resolution will include the diocese filing a Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the near future. In the Chapter 11 bankruptcy, the framework for resolution will include a consensual plan of reorganization that will provide for a $22.5 million trust to compensate survivors of clergy sexual abuse. This framework for resolution represents the diocese's commitment to finding a fair resolution for survivors of sexual abuse while continuing its ministry to those it serves throughout the 16-county diocese.

Israeli court: Alleged child sex abuser fit to stand trial

Associated Press

May 26, 2020

By Josef Federman

An Israeli court Tuesday ruled that a former teacher accused of sexually abusing her students in Australia is fit to stand trial for extradition, capping a years-long battle that has strained relations between the two allies and angered Australia's pro-Israel Jewish community.

The ruling was hailed by Malka Leifer's alleged victims, who have accused their one-time school principal and Israeli authorities of dragging out the case for far too long. A July 20 extradition hearing was set by the court.

“OMG!!!” Dassi Erlich, one of her accusers, wrote on Facebook. “Too many emotions to process!!! This is huge!”

She accused Leifer of “exploiting the Israeli courts for 6 years” and causing delays that have "lengthened our ongoing trauma!”

He Thought He Was Getting Football Physicals. He Was Being Abused.

The New York Times

May 25, 2020

By Alan Blinder

Chuck Christian played on some of Michigan’s best teams. More than 40 years later, he sees a connection between a university doctor’s assaults and a dire prognosis.

For more than 40 years, Chuck Christian did not call himself a victim because he did not think he was one.

He was a muralist who had played tight end at Michigan. He grew up poor in Detroit but came to be a world traveler. He contracted prostate cancer and outlived his doctors’ predictions.

Then, in February, an old teammate called.

Remember Dr. Robert E. Anderson? The team doctor at Michigan who performed painful, unexplained rectal exams? Someone reported him, the former teammate said, and it turns out that what he did to you, and to so many other players, was probably a crime.

BU undergrads give voice to sexual assault survivors via social media

The Daily Free Press

May 17, 2020

By Melissa Ellin

A group of Boston University students is aiming to raise sexual violence awareness through @Campus.Survivors, an Instagram account that shares anonymous sexual violence experiences among college students.

Within five days, the account amassed a following of more than 1,000, with followers from within the BU community and beyond.

Campus Survivors allows sexual violence survivors at colleges across the U.S. to share their stories by either direct-messaging the account or filling out an anonymous Google Form. The account has circulated more than 30 submissions as of May 17.

"Zabawa w chowanego" to film o ukrywaniu księży pedofili. Poraża w nim bezczelność sprawców i ich bezkarność

["Hide and seek" is a film about hiding pedophile priests. The insolence of the perpetrators and their impunity strikes him]


May 14, 2020

By Wiktoria Beczek

Historia jednego z chłopców, o których mowa w filmie, to historia nie tylko ofiary gwałciciela, ale też ofiary systemu, który pozwalał na przenoszenie pedofila między parafiami. Tworzony przez hierarchów system gwarantował bezkarność sprawcy i pozwalał mu na krzywdzenie kolejnych dzieci. A trauma dziecka i jego oprawca zostaną z nim do końca życia. - On zawsze ze mną jest, nawet teraz. (...) mam wrażenie, że on pójdzie ze mną do grobu - mówi jeden z bohaterów filmu braci Sekielskich.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The story of one of the boys referred to in the film is the story of not only the victim of the rapist, but also the victim of the system that allowed the pedophile to be transferred between parishes. The system created by the hierarchs guaranteed impunity for the perpetrator and allowed him to hurt more children. And the trauma of the child ... will stay with him for the rest of his life. - "He's always with me, even now. (...) I have the impression that he will go with me to the grave," - says one of the characters in the film by Sekielski brothers.]

What politics—and the Biden campaign—can learn from the church about sexual assault

National Catholic Reporter

May 26, 2020

By Soli Salgado

The political arena displays a dizzying spectrum of how to handle accusations of sexual misconduct. On one end, is the immediate forced resignation by the Democrats in 2017 of Minnesota Sen. Al Franken over a photo taken in 2006 and other accusations, without an independent investigation. On the other end, also in late 2017, Roy Moore's unsuccessful bid for Senate in Alabama had the full weight of the Republican Party behind him, despite numerous credible accounts of sexual encounters with underage girls.

Now, voters must choose between two presidential candidates accused of sexual assault: former Vice President Joe Biden, who has been accused of sexually assaulting former employee Tara Reade in 1993, and current President Donald Trump, who has been accused of sexual misconduct, including rape, by up to 25 women.

To the extent that political bodies can learn anything from the Catholic Church, the lessons are in the failings, say Catholic activists, feminists and survivor advocates, who have studied the fallout from the 50-year history of sexual abuse by clergy and coverup by bishops.

Why was an Alaska elementary school principal kept on the job despite inappropriate texts to minors?

AdamHorowitzLaw.com (law firm blog)

May 21, 2020

In 2016, a man repeatedly texted a girl, asking her to masturbate, call him ‘daddy’ and send photos of herself to him. He called her “sweetness,” “loveliness,” “baby,” “sweetie,” “sweet girl,” “pretty girl,” “beautiful” and “sweetheart.”

Later, the man them admitted to having sent these inappropriate messages.

Here’s the stunning news: He was a public school principal. His supervisors heard and supposedly ‘investigated’ complaints against him but took little or no serious action, so he kept working for four years.

In December, he was finally arrested. Next month, he’s in court, formally charged with sexually abusing a minor.

And here, according to ProPublica, is the short version of this painful story: “Christopher Carmichael, principal for one of Alaska’s largest rural elementary schools, in a region with some of the highest sex crime rates in the country and a state with a history of failing to protect students, was allowed to remain on the job until the FBI got involved.”


Priest slams crimes against, and abuse of, children

Manila Bulletin

May 26, 2020

By Leslie Ann Aquino

A Catholic priest said the sins and crimes committed against children are crimes that cry out to heavens for justice.

Father Melvin Castro of the Diocese of Tarlac said this on the heels of a study by the International Justice Mission stating that the Philippines has become the world’s largest known source of online child sexual exploitation with parents and relatives the ones responsible for facilitating the abuse in nearly all cases.

“This is condemnable in the strongest possible way,” he said in an interview.

“Some may view that the Church is being hypocritical in its condemnation as some of her leaders and members are guilty of worse crimes against women and children. But clearly and objectively, we have to condemn and root-out all causes of these very grave sins and crimes against children. Clearly these crimes cry out to heavens for justice,” added Castro.

Adelaide gets new Catholic archbishop

Canberra Times

May 25, 2020

The new Catholic Archbishop of Adelaide, Patrick O'Regan, is set to be officially installed at a special service in St Francis Xavier's Cathedral.

The ceremony will be conducted on Monday by Apostolic Administrator Bishop Greg O'Kelly with only a small number of representatives of the Adelaide Archdiocese present because of COVID-19 restrictions.

It would normally attract more than 2000 people including priests and bishops from around Australia.

Archbishop O'Regan was appointed by Pope Francis to take charge of the Adelaide Archdiocese in March following the resignation of Archbishop Philip Wilson in July 2018.

Archbishop Wilson had earlier been convicted in NSW of covering up child sex abuse by a pedophile priest in the Hunter region.

But later the same year he had his conviction overturned on appeal.

"He was fearless:" Competitors, former colleagues, industry critics size up Martin Baron’s contributions to American journalism

Harvard Gazette

May 25, 2020

By Christina Pazzanese

In a deeply competitive business not known for magnanimity, top editors, publishers, and media critics explain why The Washington Post’s Martin Baron is such an admired newsroom leader.

DEAN BAQUET, Executive editor, The New York Times

What makes these jobs really hard, but rewarding, is today there are only a handful of big news organizations that can play across a whole range of stories. The Post is one of them; The Times is, obviously, the other. And so, you’re talking about getting up in the morning and leading one of the great American news organizations’ coverage of the coronavirus, Donald Trump, the fight to succeed Donald Trump, the collapse of the stock market, and a possible peace deal in Afghanistan. Those are the five running stories of the moment [in late winter]. And if you’re Marty at The Post, you are running coverage of those five stories, and that doesn’t even count the whole next level of stories … You’re doing that at a time when the way people get their news is changing dramatically, from the era of print to the era of the phone, and you have to maintain one while also changing your newsroom to get ready for the other. If you add all that together, that makes for a job that’s really difficult, really rewarding and exciting, but really hard.

Australian media face trial over Pell sex abuse case reporting


May 26, 2020


Dozens of Australian journalists and publishers are set to face trial in November over coverage of ex-Vatican treasurer George Pell's child sex abuse conviction in 2018, facing charges that they breached an Australia-wide gag order in the case. Emer McCarthy reports.

Another Film About Catholic Sex Abuse Spurs Demand for Vatican Investigation

Patheos (blog)

May 23, 2020

By Val Wilde

Around this time last year, Tomasz and Marek Sekielski released their hard-hitting Polish-language documentary Do Not Tell Anyone about the problem of sexually abusive priests in the Polish Catholic Church.

Now they’re back: The second film in the series, Zabawa w Chowanego (Playing Hide and Seek), has been released on YouTube, telling the story of Bartek and Jakub Pankowiak, two Polish brothers seeking to confront the priest who molested them.

You can watch it below. English subtitles are available.

[Letter to the Editor] Unfair to use church scandals to attack bishop

Providence Journal

May 21, 2020

My friend, George Welly (“Bishop should not ‘hide behind’ Roger Williams,” May 20), irrelevantly bringing up past church scandals in reaction to Bishop Tobin’s question on how Roger Williams would view current virus-related state restrictions on worship service attendance represents a regrettable but all too common approach. Instead of engaging in an actual topic raised by the bishop, some have found in the scandals a convenient club to unjustly hit him, probably because they disagree with him on some moral issue.

Bishop Tobin presides over a diocese that calls the police after every abuse accusation that is reported to it, and he comes from a Pennsylvania diocese that issued a report about abuse there in which the bishop was neither mentioned nor for which he was even interviewed. Nor was he, as auxiliary bishop there, charged with investigating such cases.

[Opinion] The Anatomy of a Pathology

The Catholic World Report

May 25, 2020

By George Weigel

An attempt at explaining the unhinged hatred displayed by Cardinal George Pell’s enemies

Those who imagined that the sliming of Cardinal George Pell would stop as of April 7, when a unanimous decision of the High Court of Australia acquitted him of “historical sexual abuse,” did not reckon with the climate of venomous hatred that has surrounded Pell for decades, fouling Australia’s public life, legal system, and politics in the process.

That climate certainly was a factor in the Victoria police department trolling for accusations against George Pell (most of which were dismissed before trial; others were finally quashed by the High Court decision). That climate surely tainted the trial that led to the cardinal’s conviction in December 2018, despite a jury having been shown that it was literally impossible for him to have done what he was alleged to have done, where he was alleged to have done it, and in the time-frame proposed by the prosecution. That climate likely influenced the otherwise incomprehensible decision of two justices of the Supreme Court of the State of Victoria when, in August 2019, they upheld the jury verdict in spite of a devastating dissent by the one justice on the appellate panel with substantial criminal law experience. That climate shaped the commentary of the gobsmacked anti-Pell Australian media in the immediate aftermath of the High Court’s acquittal; no one in that baying mob of Pell-haters had the honesty or grace to admit that the case against Pell had been irrational from the start, or that the High Court had saved Australian justice from becoming an international laughingstock (and worse).

May 25, 2020

Kerala Church Priest Suspended After His Intimate Photos Involving a Woman Leak Online

News 18

May 23, 2020

Thiruvananthapuram: A few private photographs, allegedly involving a Kerala church priest and a woman, have [gone] viral on social media, leading to massive outrage in the state.

Some reports suggested that the photos were “leaked” online from a mobile phone shop in Idukki district after which the owner of the shop, Vellayamkudy, filed a police complaint seeking investigation into the matter.

The priest’s mobile phone was reportedly brought to the shop for repair earlier. But the shop owner denied the accusations of images being leaked from his shop.

Idukki Diocese was quick to take action against the accused priest, Fr James Mangalassery, from Catholic church in Vellayamkudi of Kattappana in Idukki district.

Former priest bound over on CSC charges

Daily Mining Gazette

May 22,2020

By Garrett Neese

ONTONAGON — A former Upper Peninsula priest accused of molesting children was bound over to Ontonagon County Circuit Court.

Gary Jacobs, 74, had a preliminary hearing on Tuesday and Wednesday in 98th District Court in Ontonagon. No date has been set for his circuit court arraignment.

Jacobs was also arraigned in Dickinson County’s district court Monday for similar charges there. He will be arraigned in circuit court next month.

Jacobs faces eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct. He also faces a second-degree CSC charge in Dickinson County. All stem from alleged incidents between 1981 and 1984 in which he is said to have abused his position as a priest.

First-degree CSC carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. Second-degree charges are punishable by up to 15 years.

Coronavirus claims life of American Red Cross’ Donna M. Morrissey, former Boston Archdiocese spokeswoman

Boston Herald

May 23, 2020

By Marie Szaniszlo

Donna M. Morrissey, who served as spokeswoman for the Boston Archdiocese at the height of the clergy sex abuse scandal and later for the Red Cross, died on Friday from complications from the coronavirus, the organization said. She was 51.

Morrissey died at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, said George K. Regan, whose public relations firm she worked for from 1998 to 2001.

Donna M. Morrissey, who headed PR for the Boston Archdiocese and the American Red Cross, dies at 51 of COVID-19

Boston Globe

May 23, 2020

By Bryan Marquard

When 26 people were shot and killed at a Newtown, Conn., elementary school in 2012, Donna M. Morrissey went to the scene the following morning for the American Red Cross to speak with victims’ families and relief workers — conversations all the more grief-stricken because 20 young children were among the dead.

“She remembered everything,” said Tara Hughes, leader of the American Red Cross family assistance center that day, who saw Ms. Morrissey, as communications director, field questions in interview after interview with local reporters and national news outlets.

“Donna was fierce in all the good ways — a fierce advocate for people in need, a fierce friend to many,” Hughes added. “She always said she wanted to capture what it was like to be in the position of someone who was impacted directly, and then she would tell their story with grace and compassion. She was amazing in that way.”

Ms. Morrissey, who formerly held one of the most difficult public relations jobs in the country as spokeswoman for the Boston Archdiocese during the clergy sex abuse scandal that swiftly dominated the news, died of COVID-19 Friday at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. She was 51 and lived in Newton.

Archdiocese list of assets tops more than $240-million


May 24, 2020

By Thomas Perumean

Asset filing runs 2,000 pages

The New Orleans Archdiocese has listed more than $240,000,000 dollars in assets against $139,000,000 liabilities.

Though the Church has a healthy amount of assets against debts, the diocese is facing scores of lawsuits from child sexual abuse claims that could take a multitude of years to settle.

The list of assets filed in Federal Court runs 2,000 pages.

The Times-Picayune/New Orleans Advocate says the list shows Hancock-Whitney Bank as being owed $37,000,000. These are state facility bonds which the church used to rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

LI priest molested me, now church is trying to keep me quiet, lawsuit says

New York Post

May 24, 2020

By Rebecca Rosenberg

A man says a Long Island priest sexually abused him when he was a teen — and that church investigators are now trying to intimidate him into silence, new court papers show.

Greg Hein, 52, says in a Nassau County lawsuit that Father Gregory Cappuccino repeatedly molested him in the sacristy and rectory of St. Anthony of Padua in Rockville Centre in 1984. Hein was 17 at the time, while the priest oversaw the parish’s youth programs, the suit says.

Then this past May, several months after the lawsuit was filed, Hein was contacted by an ex-roommate who had attended drug rehab with him in Florida.

Preso en Ezeiza por dos casos: El cura que abusaba de monjas y luego las confesaba, sin arresto domiciliario

[Prisoner in Ezeiza for two cases: The priest who abused nuns and later confessed them is denied house arrest]


May 21, 2020

Manuel Pascual (65) dijo ser del grupo de riesgo por el coronavirus, pero la Justicia le rechazó el pedido.

[Manuel Pascual (65) said he was from the risk group for the coronavirus, but the Justice rejected the request.]

El cura Manuel Fernando Pascual (65), preso por el abuso sexual de dos monjas de la congregación “Hermanas de San José”, fue uno de los tantos que usó la pandemia del coronavirus como excusa para pedir su excarcelación. Pero la Justicia se la denegó y Pascual seguirá esperando el juicio oral tras las rejas.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The priest Manuel Fernando Pascual (65), imprisoned for the sexual abuse of two nuns from the "Sisters of San José" congregation, was one of the many who used the coronavirus pandemic as an excuse to request his release. But Justice denied it and Pascual will continue waiting for the oral trial behind bars.]

Opinion: Have Christian institutions become synonymous with child sex abuse?


May 23, 2020

By Milind Sathye

It seems given the track record of child abuse, the Church attendance in the US has seen steep decline. The case of Australia is no different. 92% of Australians do not visit the Church on a regular basis.

On May 7, 2020, Australia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse released redacted (censored) portion of its report. The Final Report: Religious Institutions (FRRI) 2017 and the unredacted part of the report reveals the dark world of child sexual abuse in the Christian establishment.

The un-reacted part of the report has three parts: Part 1 details case studies of child abuse in five Catholic institutions in Ballarat (Australia). These include St Joseph’s Home, St Alipius Primary School, St Alipius Parish, St Patrick’s College, and St Patrick’s Christian Brothers Boys Primary School and the public hearing thereof. Part 2 details the case of Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne and its public hearing and Part 3 is about the response of the Catholic Diocese of Ballarat and other Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat to allegations of child sexual abuse against clergy, and that of the Congregation of Christian Brothers (Christian Brothers). The three un-redacted versions included: Un-redacted Report of Case Study No. 28: Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat (535 pages), Un-redacted Report of Case Study No. 35: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (289 pages), and Un-redacted Volume 16, Religious institutions Book 2 which focussed on Catholic institutions generally (936 pages).

Opinion: Scapegoating of Pell gains emphasis after release of redacted reports

Japan Herald

May 23, 2020

By Peter O'Brien

-- Summarising, Cardinal George Pell has been made a scapegoat.
-- There has been a suggestion that Victoria Police are re-examining the Report to ascertain if new criminal charges can be brought against the Cardinal.
-- There are no grounds for charging Pell with any crime unless they also to choose to charge a multitude of other surviving clerics.

Summarising, Cardinal Pell has been made a scapegoat. Whether that was the intention of the Royal Commission, I cannot say. But that has certainly been the outcome of the almost obsessive examination of the actions and recollections of a man whose direct involvement in the management of these offenders was minimal at best. The blame falls squarely and overwhelmingly at the feet of Bishop Mulkearns, Archbishop Little and various Provincials of the Christian Brothers. Contrary to natural justice, and contrasted with the treatment meted out to Cardinal Pell by the pack-hunting media, these men are not today the objects of infamy and rebuke that they should be.

May 24, 2020

From churches to crucifixes, Archdiocese of New Orleans spells out assets in latest bankruptcy filing

Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 23, 2020

By John Simerman and Jerry DiColo

New records released by the Archdiocese of New Orleans in its bankruptcy case offer the fullest accounting yet of the church’s financial house, and a peek inside how Archbishop Gregory Aymond and other church brass were managing it leading up to the May Day filing.

In nearly 2,000 pages of disclosures filed into the federal court record before a deadline late Friday, the archdiocese details $243 million in claimed assets and $139 million in claimed liabilities.

The church is far from underwater, the documents suggest, though what that means for those with claims against the archdiocese could take years to unravel.

The documents offer exacting detail in some areas but are also missing some key numbers. The value for a sprawling array of church properties is listed as “undetermined,” for instance, and there are no updated estimates of what dozens of sexual abuse claims could cost the local church.

The largest claimant, Hancock Whitney Bank, is listed as being owed $37 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina, plus at least $10 million in debt guarantees made by the archdiocese for the St. Anthony’s Gardens project, the documents show.

The Covington senior living complex appears to have been a financial sinkhole for the archdiocese. It has been cited, on top of mounting sexual abuse claims that now number in the dozens, in recent downgrades of the church’s bond ratings by credit agencies.

Even amid pandemic courage, abuse survivor's bravery stands out

London Free Press

May 24, 2020

By Jane Sims

We’ve witnessed extraordinary acts of courage during the pandemic, from everyone from front-line health-care workers and grocery store employees to vaccine hunters and contact tracers.

A decision this week from the Ontario Court of Appeal is a reminder that courage doesn’t only show up during global crises. Sometimes the bravest people are in the middle of long, slow slogs.

Childhood sexual abuse survivor Irene Deschenes is one of the bravest people I know.

Ontario’s highest court dismissed the Roman Catholic Diocese of London’s appeal of a motion allowing Deschenes to reopen her 20-year-old civil settlement for what happened to her in the 1970s at the hands of predator parish priest Charles Sylvestre.

“She’s remarkable,” said her lawyer, Loretta Merritt. “The strength and conviction she has shown for these 20 years is inspiring. Her perseverance in the face of tremendous adversity is remarkable. “

Deschenes, 58, has said before she won’t stop until she holds the church and others accountable for how it treats survivors of sexual abuse.

I’ve known Deschenes for a long time. In 2006, I began covering Sylvestre’s shocking, persistent abuse of little girls over four decades in London, Windsor, Sarnia, Chatham and Pain Court parishes.

That case shaped my career covering the justice system. Many of the women were about my age. I saw myself in their old school photos, shown in a Chatham courtroom, when they were victimized from ages nine to 14. They gave a moving narrative about the long-term damage from childhood sexual abuse.

Deschenes, who was abused from ages 10 to 12, first went to the church to complain in 1992 when she was a married 31-year-old mom. The priest heading diocese’s sexual abuse committee offered counselling.

Convinced the church didn’t believe her, Deschenes placed ads in London, Windsor and Chatham newspapers asking for memories of Sylvestre. Many responses recalled him fondly, but a significant number were women who’d been abused just like her.

'A sad thing': Diocese of Las Cruces responds to lawsuit

Alamogordo Daily News

May 19, 2020

By Nicole Maxwell

On March 31, a John Doe filed a lawsuit against two churches in Alamogordo, three dioceses including one in Massachusetts and the now defunct Servants of the Paraclete.

The lawsuit alleged the criminal sexual conduct made to Doe between 1972 and 1975 by the late Fr. David Holley was due to negligence on the part of the dioceses mentioned. They include the Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of Las Cruces, both in New Mexico and the Diocese of Worcester in Massachusetts.

"We are definitely aware of allegations that (Holley) is a credibly accused priest," Diocese of Las Cruces spokesman Christopher Velasquez said. "It's just a very sad thing and a very disheartening thing."

The suit, filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, also named Alamogordo's Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish.

Holley was convicted of child sexual penetration in New Mexico's 12th District Court under Judge Robert M. Doughty, II in 1993.

Holley died in 2008.

Bankrupt Archdiocese Cashes In

Church Militant

May 21, 2020

By Bradley Eli

Santa Fe shorts sex abuse victims

An archdiocese that filed for bankruptcy owing to clerical sex abuse is receiving nearly $1 million in federal relief funds.

Federal Bankruptcy Court Judge David T. Thuma is ruling the archdiocese of Santa Fe, New Mexico can receive a $900,000 federal loan as part of the $2 trillion COVID-19 relief package set up in March. The U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) was exempting Santa Fe because the archdiocese had filed for bankruptcy in 2018 owing to clerical sex abuse.

Lepanto Institute founder and president Michael Hichborn told Church Militant the ruling was grossly unjust.

"It's absolutely appalling that a bishop would apply for government funding in order to help cover the cost of sex abuse lawsuits," remarked Hichborn. "That would be like Al Capone using Chicago city funds to pay off his gambling and prostitution debts!"

Santa Fe isn't the only diocese to seek federal funding after sheltering money from sex abuse victims by filing for bankruptcy protection. Two New York dioceses of Buffalo and Rochester also sued the SBA, for attempting to keep both from receiving federal cash.

Bishop apologizes for priest's sexual abuses after 23 years

Korea Times

May 24, 2020

By Park Ji-won

[Includes a screen capture from the website of the Diocese of Incheon]

Bishop John Baptist Jung Shin-chul, head of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Incheon, issued a statement apologizing for a priest's sexual abuse of students of a Catholic university about 23 years ago.

The sexual abuse cases were made public recently through an investigative TV program.

In a statement uploaded on the website of the Diocese of Incheon, the bishop said he was deeply sorry for letting such an inappropriate incident happen, confirming the media report was true.

"My sincere apologies for those who were hurt, disappointed and worried after the media report about the incident," he said. The bishop said the priest in question was in charge of education when Incheon Catholic University was opened and admitted the church mishandled the case.

The bishop went on to say that he took the case seriously and the priest, surnamed Choi, was stripped of his clerical status as of May 8.

The apology came after an episode of SBS' "Unanswered Questions" which aired on May 16 and covered allegations that Choi, the first president of Incheon Catholic University, sexually abused students between 1996 and 1998. The program included testimonies from alleged victims, as well as former priests and nuns who said they had witnessed or heard of Choi committing acts of sexual abuse such as molesting his students and forcing them to perform oral sex on him.

The SBS program claimed that some victims of Choi committed suicide after being assaulted by the former priest, an allegation that was not confirmed.

Chicago Catholic Archdiocese rating slashed on mounting fiscal strains

Bond Buyer

May 21, 2020

Already under strain from the financial weight of sexual misconduct claims, the Catholic Archdiocese of Chicago took a three-notch downgrade from Moody’s Investors Service reflecting the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and concerns about the rising number of archdiocese bankruptcies.

Moody’s lowered the rating this week to Baa1 from A1 and assigned a stable outlook. The rating agency had last year revised the outlook to negative from stable due in large part to uncertainty over the ultimate cost of sexual misconduct claims.

Moody’s rates $136 million of 2012 and 2013 notes issued by the archdiocese, whose formal borrower name is the Catholic Bishop of Chicago.

The downgrade “reflects the escalation of core social and business risks for a particular sector that has seen a substantial and now recently increasing trend of preemptive bankruptcy, even when financial operations, balance sheets and other credit fundamentals are sound,” Moody’s said.
At least 27 Catholic religious organizations have sought bankruptcy protection in Chapter 11, according to Penn State Law.

The Chicago archdiocese continues to see a rising number of priest sex abuse claims that drove the 2019 outlook change. The pandemic adds operational and financial pressures.

“While the archdiocese has a long history of managing many of these exposures, it is not immune from rising financial risks,” Moody’s said. “The rapid and widening spread of the coronavirus outbreak and deteriorating global economic outlook are creating a severe and extensive credit shock, with risks to the downside.”

The archdiocese’s rating benefits from its management's “well defined” plans for addressing financial exposures, its transparency, and its strong financial balance sheet with $1.1 billion of cash and investments.

“CBC's relatively large scale and investment portfolio provides operating flexibility and a platform to cope with the recent emergence of new misconduct claims and the operational impact related to the coronavirus pandemic,” Moody’s said.

Masses were halted and churches shuttered in mid-March as the COVID-19 public health crisis grew and Gov. J.B. Pritzker shut down large gatherings and later issued a stay-at-home order.

The archdiocese last month estimated an eight-week impact of the loss of offertory envelopes donated at masses at up to $45 million.

The archdiocese last year reported settlements of legal claims for $41 million in fiscal 2017 and $19 million in 2018. Gov. J.B. Pritzker last year signed legislation that eliminates the statute of limitations on cases for criminal sexual assault, aggravated criminal sexual assault and aggravated criminal sexual abuse. The archdiocese has so far only been subject to civil cases. The Illinois attorney general is also looking into all six Illinois dioceses' historical treatment of claims of priest sexual misconduct.

Current projections on the costs of sexual abuse claims are manageable but Moody’s cautioned that the full impact and magnitude remains unclear.

The notes are a general obligation of the CBC with the designated group supporting repayment made up of the Archdiocese of Chicago Pastoral Center and Catholic Cemeteries. CBC can access other funds as available to meet debt service.

CBC also has a $40 million bank loan, supported by a real estate proceeds account. CBC must deposit into a segregated fund proceeds from any real estate sales while the principal is outstanding. It matures on January 2022.

May 23, 2020

London Catholic Diocese loses appeal in child sexual abuse case

CBC News

May 21, 2020

Deschenes was abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1970 and 1973 while she was a young girl

London, Ontario - An Ontario appeals court has dismissed a bid by the Diocese of London to fight a lower court's decision to throw out a settlement involving a victim of child sexual abuse.

Justice David Aston ruled in 2018 that London-area resident Irene Deschenes would not have settled with the church for the abuse she suffered at the hands of a priest had the church disclosed key information about previous sexual assault allegations.

Deschenes was abused by Father Charles Sylvestre between 1970 and 1973 while she was a young girl and a student at St. Ursula Catholic School and parishioner of the parish in Chatham, Ont.

Sylvestre pleaded guilty in August 2006 to the sexual assaults of 47 victims, all girls under the age of 18. The abuse happened between 1952 and 1986. Sylvestre died in prison in 2007.

'Evidence of a cover up': Woman wins bid to sue London diocese, again, over sexual abuse

The Canadian Press / CTV News

May 22, 2020

By Paola Loriggio

An Ontario woman has won her bid to sue the London Diocese of the Roman Catholic Church for a second time over the sexual abuse she suffered as a child at the hands of a priest.

Irene Deschenes initially filed a lawsuit in 1996 alleging she was sexually abused by Father Charles Sylvestre in the early 1970s, and that the London diocese failed to prevent it.

She settled out of court in 2000 after the diocese maintained it didn't know of any concerns regarding Sylvestre or his behaviour until the late 1980s -- long after what happened to Deschenes.

Court documents show that in 2006, Sylvestre pleaded guilty to having sexually assaulted 47 girls under the age of 18, including Deschenes.

It also came to light that the diocese had received police statements in 1962 alleging the priest had assaulted three girls, prompting Deschenes to seek to scrap her settlement and file a new suit.

A motion judge ruled to allow the new legal action, but the diocese appealed -- a challenge that was unanimously dismissed by the province's top court this week.

Deschenes's lawyer praised her client's "strength and conviction" in pursuing the case, and said Deschenes is "thrilled" the Appeal Court upheld the decision to set aside the settlement.

Facing huge debts, Buffalo Diocese studies possible mergers of churches, schools

Buffalo News

May 22, 2020

By Dan Herbeck

The Buffalo Catholic Diocese has begun an initiative that will focus on re-envisioning its mission, which could result in consolidations that would merge some churches and schools.

No specific plans have been made regarding the 161 parishes and 34 elementary schools currently in operation in the 8-county diocese, but Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger said the diocese will work with pastors and other church leaders to decide what steps should be taken.

Scharfenberger indicated that there is “a great likelihood” that some Catholic schools and parishes will have to merge with others.

He told The Buffalo News late Friday that financial pressures on the diocese – including its bankruptcy case, hundreds of legal claims alleging abuse of children by priests and the Covid-19 pandemic – have forced the diocese to take a wide-ranging look at all its operations and find the best ways to spend limited funds.

Scharfenberger also acknowledged that the dwindling number of active priests in the diocese makes it difficult to keep all churches open.

While the diocese said it currently has about 360 priests, the bishop noted that most of them are either retired or semi-retired.

“We’re reviewing our core mission and purpose," the bishop told The News. "We’re going to identify what is essential to our mission and put all our weight behind what is essential. I have read stories saying that one-third of our small businesses may not survive because of Covid-19. I have thought that our parishes have a lot in common with small businesses.”

New bishop says Catholic Church has learned from the past

Rapid City Journal

May 23, 2020

By Kevin Woster

A Minnesota priest selected to be the new bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City comes from a diocese that concluded bankruptcy proceedings last year agreeing to pay tens of millions of dollars to victims of child sexual abuse.

Father Peter Muhich, 59, said addressing the abuse of victims was “obviously a very difficult process” for the church and especially for the victims themselves.

“Of all things, when our priests violate the trust of a child it’s just a terrible thing,” Muhich said. “We just emerged from bankruptcy in the Diocese of Duluth having to account for that.”

It was a painful, expensive accounting that affects the financial resources available for other needs in the diocese. But it was appropriate and instructive accounting, too, Muhich said.

“We’ve learned through the bankruptcy that we can live more simply,” he said. “I think it’s absolutely fitting. The church is always most credible as a litmus when it leads a humble and simple life, like the Lord himself.”

Muhich, who expects to be ordained as bishop and begin his duties here by mid- to late summer, noted that Pope Francis has led the way in promoting clerical humility in the Catholic Church. The pope has focused on outreach to the edges of society, making biblically meaningful gestures such as washing the feet of prison inmates, the poor, migrants, the elderly and the disabled.

Alleged victim of nuns’ sex abuse fears Archdiocese bankruptcy will silence him


May 21, 2020

By Greg LaRose

The Archdiocese of New Orleans has filed for bankruptcy, and survivors of abuse at the hands of Catholic clergy say it’s just a maneuver meant to silence them. They include one man who says he was molested by nuns at a West Bank youth home in the 1970s, and he’s now urging other victims to speak out.

Jeff, whose real name isn’t being used, says his parents sent him to Madonna Manor in Marrero in 1976 for help with dyslexia. He was 11 years old at the time.

“I didn’t even understand what dyslexia was,” Jeff said.

During his one-year stay at Madonna Manor, he says three nuns forced him to perform individual sexual acts with them. He recalled being unconscious after a schoolyard injury and waking up in the infirmary to discover a nun performing oral sex on him.

Another nun, who taught music, coerced Jeff on two occasions into placing his hand up her dress, he said.

He said he doesn’t remember either of those nuns’ names, but he recalls the third who he claims abused him two to three nights a week over a four-month period: Sister Marie.

Another sex scandal: Kerala priest found in compromising position with mother of two in church

AsiaNet Newsable

May 23, 2020

Kattappana, Kerala, India - A Kerala priest from Idukki district was found in a compromising position with a lady. This incident happened at a Catholic church at Vellayamkudi of Kattappana. The pornographic visuals went viral on social media after the vicar Fr James Mangalassery gave his mobile phone for repair.

This incident came to light at a time when the churches in Kerala are brimming with cases of sex scandals popping up one after another.

After the visuals went viral, the Idukki church authorities took action against James. Apparently James has been removed from the vicar position.

According to sources, the incident took place in the month of March, and the action against him was taken on March 24. However, the statement was released yesterday.

No police case has been reported yet as none have filed a complaint regarding the incident, said Kattappana Police. Sources say the incident may have taken place with consent.

The woman, who was seen in a compromising position with the vicar is a married woman and a mother of two. It is also alleged that the woman regularly visited the church to meet the vicar during the lockdown days.

"The incident which occurred in Idukki is a shocking incident. We see the vicar as God. We never expect them to be involved in these kinds of acts," said Jaiby Kuruvithadam, a former trustee of St Pius X Church, Kothamangalam Diocese. Jaibi added that one can’t imagine a vicar to be indulging in such shameful acts and even capture those moments on his phone.

"I strongly recommend that these types of vicars should be allowed to leave the church from their position, if these shameful acts will only increase. People's trust will fade day by day with such incidents in the state. Only if truth and trust are there, people's belief towards Christianity will increase,” he added.

Catholic psychologist calls domestic violence 'pandemic within a pandemic'

Catholic News Service

May 22, 2020

By Gina Christian

Philadelphia - Amid global coronavirus lockdowns, domestic violence has emerged as "a pandemic within a pandemic," said Catholic clinical psychologist Christauria Welland.

"Our rates in the U.S. for physical and sexual violence against women were already at one in three," she said. Based in California, Welland has counseled both those who are abused and their abusers for decades.

During periods of economic crisis and natural disasters, such rates tend to rise, said Welland, adding that the coronavirus has aggravated conditions for domestic abuse, also known as "intimate partner violence."

"We're seeing huge increases in anxiety, uncertainty and feelings of powerlessness," she said. "When those who abuse manage their relationships using a template of power that says, 'I'm in control of you," this kind of insecurity makes them feel vulnerable and puts them at risk of becoming violent."

Unemployment, food and financial instability, confinement and substance abuse have increased the risk of abuse.

May 22, 2020

Retired, credibly accused New Orleans priests get back medical benefits; pensions still halted

Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 20, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

The federal judge overseeing the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case on Wednesday ordered the church to reinstate medical benefits for retired priests faced with credible child sexual molestation allegations but to continue withholding their stipends for living expenses.

U.S. District Judge Meredith Grabill had issued an order that effectively suspended all payments to such priests three days after the archdiocese’s May 1 filing for bankruptcy protection. But she amended her mandate after retired clergyman Gerard Howell, 80, argued that her initial ruling amounted to “a death sentence” for him.

Howell, who was suspected of molesting children growing up in the state’s deaf community during the 1960s and 1970s, told Grabill he was displeased only a portion of his benefits were restored.

“I’m making a petition to overrule that! … It seems punitive,” Howell, who was not represented by an attorney, said to Grabill. “Oh, Lord.”

As the judge adjourned the 75-minute, telephone hearing, attorney Richard Trahant — who represents clergy-abuse claimants and had asked Grabill to abide by her initial ruling — mockingly repeated the word “punitive.”

Judge upholds Child Victims Act

Hudson Valley 360

May 20, 2020

By Melanie Lekocevic

Rockville Centre - The Child Victims Act fended off a challenge claiming the law is unconstitutional.

The legislation, championed by New Baltimore resident and state Senate candidate Gary Greenberg, creates a “look-back” window allowing claimants charging sexual abuse that occurred past the standard statute of limitations to take their case to civil court for a one-year period from the date the legislation was signed into law.

The law went into effect Aug. 15, 2019, and initially allowed civil cases alleging child sexual abuse to be brought against institutions through Aug. 14, 2020, regardless of when the abuse is claimed to have taken place. Due to the COVID-19 outbreak and the court system coming to a near standstill in New York state, Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the “look-back window” by five months, to Jan. 14, 2021.

A case was dismissed last Wednesday by State Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger, denying a motion by the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre in Long Island to dismiss 44 lawsuits against the diocese. The motion claimed the law was unconstitutional because it violated the diocese’s right to due process.

“There had been claims filed by the diocese under the Child Victims Act and they objected to the claims and made a motion to have them dismissed based on the claim that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional, that you can’t go back and bring lawsuits when the statute of limitations has passed,” Greenberg said. “They said the Legislature couldn’t pass the Child Victims Act and victims couldn’t sue the diocese under the look-back window.”

Clergy abuse survivors, Hancock Bank on Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy creditors' committee

Times-Picayune and New Orleans Advocate

May 20, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

A committee representing the unsecured creditors in the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ bankruptcy case will include clergy abuse claimants and Hancock Whitney Bank, which has managed more than $38 million in state facilities bonds that helped the local Catholic Church rebuild after Hurricane Katrina.

Federal court records Wednesday only identified one representative on the seven-member committee: Beth Zeigler of Hancock Whitney. The rest of the names were redacted, suggesting that the committee’s balance might be comprised of people who claim they were sexually molested by New Orleans-area clergymen and religious personnel.

The records said a prior order from U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill classifies the names of clergy abuse claimants as confidential information. But to facilitate the committee’s work, an attorney with the U.S. Trustee’s Office — which helps oversee bankruptcy cases — requested Wednesday that the redacted group members’ names be disclosed.

Opening salvos in Pope Francis’s financial ‘Reform 2.0’


May 22, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - Facing both a looming economic crisis and reminders that the anti-financial scandal measures adopted to date haven’t been fully effective, Pope Francis and his Vatican team this week have moved to try to defuse the bomb before it goes off, closing several Swiss holding companies responsible for portions of its assets and reallocating internal control over financial data collection.

Even together, the two moves hardly represent a comprehensive fix. Yet they do suggest that dubious transactions, which have generated scandal and so far cost five employees their jobs, coupled with several financial shortfalls caused by the coronavirus pandemic, certainly have gotten the pope’s attention.

On Tuesday, Corriere della Serra, Italy’s newspaper of record, reported that Francis has shut down nine holding companies based in the Swiss cities of Lausanne, Geneva and Fribourg, all of which were created to manage portions of the Vatican’s investment portfolio and its land and real estate holdings after the 1929 Lateran Pacts and payments by Mussolini’s Italy to offset the loss of the Papal States in the 19th century.

The deal netted the Vatican about $100 million in 1929, the equivalent of $1.5 billion today.

On Wednesday, just 24 hours later, the Vatican also announced that Pope Francis has transferred control Centro Elaborazione Dati (“Center for the Elaboration of Data,” known as CED) from the Administration of the Patrimony for the Apostolic See (APSA) to the Secretariat for the Economy (known by its Italian acronym “SPE”.)

The center is the office responsible for monitoring cash flows and assessing their impact on the Vatican’s financial situation - which means that if anyone on earth knows how much money the Vatican actually has at any given moment, or at least how much cash it has on hand, it’s these folks.

New institute to ponder John Paul II’s heavy lifting on Church and culture


May 21, 2020

By John L. Allen Jr.

Rome - St. John Paul II did plenty of heavy lifting during his long papacy, from staring down the Soviet empire to battling what he saw as a metastasizing “culture of death” in the West. Perhaps it’s only fitting, then, that the leader of a new institute devoted to the Polish pope and his approach to culture invokes a weightlifting analogy to express its mission.

“If you want to be a good weightlifter, you need to find the right position for your backbone,” said Dominican Father Michal Paluch. “Otherwise, you won’t be able to handle the pressure.”

Paluch, rector of Rome’s University of St. Thomas Aquinas, said the comparison is apt to the challenges facing the Catholic Church today vis-à-vis the emerging cultures of postmodernity.

“We’re under a lot of pressure in the contemporary world, we Christians and Catholics, and it’s critical to find the right position for our backbone,” he said. “John Paul II shows us how to be in such a position, in his attitude about how to be active in culture.”

The 53-year-old Paluch, appointed to the top post at the Angelicum last June, himself knows a thing or two about engaging culture. As a young man growing up in Poland, he studied music before entering the Dominican order.

This week, Paluch presided over the launch of the “John Paul II Institute of Culture” at the Angelicum, leading a livestream ceremony just at the cusp of Italy’s gradual loosening of coronavirus restrictions. Pope Francis sent his blessings for the enterprise, saying John Paul II left the Church a “rich and multifaceted heritage” due to “the example of his open and contemplative spirit, his passion for God and man, for creation, history and art.”

For now the institute is funded by two private Polish foundations, Futura Iuventa and Saint Nicholas, though Paluch said the Angelicum is seeking other sponsors to scale up its operations.

Kansas investigating sexual abuse claims in breakaway Society of St. Pius X

Catholic News Agency/EWTN

May 20, 2020

By Matt Hadro

The Society of St. Pius X (SSPX) is under investigation in Kansas, amid allegations that members of the group perpetrated or covered up clerical sex abuse in the state.

The Kansas Bureau of Investigation (KBI) confirmed to CNA on Monday that it is examining clergy abuse allegations made against the group, as part of its investigation into the four Kansas Catholic dioceses. The SSPX is not overseen by any diocese in Kansas, or elsewhere, because of its irregular status in the Church.

A breakaway traditionalist group, the SSPX was founded by Archbishop Marcel Lefebvre in 1970. When Lefebvre and Bishop Antonio de Castro Mayer consecrated four bishops without the permission of St. John Paul II in 1988, the bishops involved were excommunicated.

In 2009, Pope Benedict XVI lifted the excommunications of the surviving bishops, while noting that “doctrinal questions obviously remain and until they are clarified the Society has no canonical status in the Church and its ministers cannot legitimately exercise any ministry.”

The group has been in intermittent talks with the Vatican about returning to full communion with the Church. In 2015, Pope Francis extended the faculty to hear confession to priests of the society as part of the Jubilee Year of Mercy.

In the group’s U.S. district, however, a number of abuse allegations have surfaced in relation to the large SSPX community at St. Mary’s, Kansas, which includes the society’s K-12 school.

In its ongoing investigation of Catholic clergy abuse in Kansas, a KBI spokeswoman said the bureau has received 186 reports of abuse and had opened 112 investigations. She did not indicate how many relate directly to the SSPX.

Secret bishops' report calls for radical revamp of Catholic Church

Sydney Morning Herald

May 21, 2020

By Farrah Tomazin

Australia’s Catholic Church could be dramatically overhauled to give lay people more power, increase the number of women in leadership roles and force parishes to open up their finances to the public.

A secret 200-page report being considered by the nation’s bishops has called for unprecedented reform in a bid to make the church more inclusive and break down the structures that contributed to decades of clergy abuse and cover-ups.

The report is in response to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse, which found that the hierarchical nature of the church, coupled with its lack of governance, had created "a culture of deferential obedience" in which the protection of paedophile priests was left unchallenged.

But in a sign of how sensitive the church is to issues of reform, the body that commissioned the report - the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference - is unlikely to publicly release or reveal how it will respond to its 86 recommendations until the end of the year.

Brisbane Archbishop Mark Coleridge, the current president of the ACBC, acknowledged that the proposals would have "far-reaching implications for the Church’s life and mission".

"To do it justice, the bishops will now take advice, consider the report in depth, conduct discussions at a provincial level, and otherwise prepare for a full discussion at their November plenary," he said.

The report is based on a 15-month review of church governance, which was conducted by a seven-member panel led by Justice Neville Owen, the former chair of the Truth, Justice and Healing Council.

Commentary: Revictimizing the Victims of Sexual Abuse

National Catholic Register/EWTN

May 20, 2020

By Janet E. Smith

Bishops and dioceses must answer the phone calls of victims, meet with them, hear their stories and empathize with them. That is not too much to ask.

Victims of sexual abuse by clergy frequently have told me that the way they were treated by bishops has hurt them more than the abuse did.

Virtually every bishop has made the announcement that he is dedicated to helping victims who have been sexually abused by priests and that he has put considerable resources toward that effort. Unfortunately, from what I have heard from too many victims, some bishops are quite adept at virtue-signaling and at making empty promises.

Examples of the unresponsiveness of dioceses to victims are available in nearly every documentary on the sex-abuse crisis. One of the first and most devastating I watched was The Keepers on Netflix, which explores the unsolved murder of a religious sister who taught at an all-girls high school in Baltimore in the late 1960s. The series holds that the sister was killed because she suspected that the priest/principal was repeatedly abusing one of the students and was preparing a report for the archdiocese. Some 20 years later, when the woman who was abused by the priest reported it to the Archdiocese of Baltimore, officials were sympathetic but claimed that they could not verify her story. The woman’s nine siblings sent about 1,000 postcards to other women who had studied at the same high school during the tenure of the priest/principal and asked if they had anything to report about sexual abuse during their time there. Dozens came forward then, and even more came forward after the documentary. Why could not the diocese have done such an investigation? (The Archdiocese of Baltimore defends itself here.)

That event was decades ago, but the pattern of behavior remains all too common.

One reason Siobhan O’Connor of Buffalo, New York, shifted from the role of loyal secretary to Bishop Richard Malone to whistleblower who helped effect the bishop’s resignation is that she discovered the phone line on which victims were to report abuse went to an answering machine in a warehouse and was listened to by no one.

Public defender

Insurance Business Magazine

May 21, 2020

IBA: Before you started Poms & Associates, you focused on the issue of sexual abuse at Gallagher. Can you tell us more about that

David Poms: [When] Gallagher hired me, [they] focused on two major areas – one was Catholic dioceses and the other was public entities, so I was assigned some Catholic diocese accounts. A lot of the claims started with the priests, but it was pretty early on in the ’80s and [grew] into dramatic numbers in the ’90s. I very much got involved with the molestation claims back then, which was not only disconcerting, but you had a certain respect for priests, and finding out that they were involved in this was tough for me to manage mentally.

When these claims started to arise, [dioceses] denied that these things ever happened. They would hide some of the employees; they couldn't testify or defend themselves, and that was an interesting way for them to manage these cases.

We had to help them change that culture in respect to handling and managing claims, so some of the accounts that we were involved in developed teams where you would have outside legal counsel, a layperson, a therapist and the diocese, and you would have a team approach to help manage the claims. You got a lot of perspectives from different disciplines to help manage the claims rather than to deny them or hide the fact that they existed. That was a big change with many of the dioceses early on, and those that implemented this team approach managed the claims much better than others.

An Elementary School Repeatedly Dismissed Allegations Against Its Principal. Then, an FBI Agent Pretended to Be a 13-Year-Old Girl.

Anchorage Daily News, KYUK, and ProPublica

May 12, 2020

By Kyle Hopkins

The principal for one of Alaska’s largest rural elementary schools, in a region with some of the highest sex crime rates in the country and a state with a history of failing to protect students, was allowed to remain on the job until the FBI got involved.

For some parents, it was the gifts from the principal to young girls and their families that gave them pause. A few too many presents that cost a little too much money. Then began the late-night Facebook messages.

Through most of it, the principal of one of the largest elementary schools in rural Alaska remained on the job and in close contact with students. Then, in December, Gladys Jung Elementary Principal Christopher Carmichael was arrested by the FBI’s Child Exploitation Task Force and later charged with possession of child pornography, attempted coercion of a child and sexual abuse of a minor.

In a state with a history of failing to protect children, and in a region with a sexual assault rate more than six times the national average, parents of girls are asking the same question: How was this allowed to happen?

An investigation by the Anchorage Daily News, KYUK public radio and ProPublica found that at least twice over the previous four years, parents had complained to police about Carmichael. In 2016, Carmichael admitted behavior to his supervisors that, under Alaska ethics laws for educators, could have cost him his teaching certificate.

Former Michigan priest headed to trial on 11 sexual abuse charges from the 1980s


May 21, 2020

All charges involve victims who were minors at the time of the incidents.

After three days of testimony across two counties involving five victims, a former priest under the Catholic Diocese of Marquette in the Upper Peninsula is now headed to trial for 11 criminal sexual conduct charges that he reportedly committed in the 1980s.

Attorney General Dana Nessel announced Thursday, May 21 that Gary Allen Jacobs was bound over to Dickinson County Circuit Court Monday on a second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge by district court Judge Julie LaCost. Jacobs is scheduled to appear June 1 in Dickinson County Circuit Court before Judge Christopher Ninomiya

Following testimony on Tuesday and Wednesday, Ontonagon County District Court Judge Janis Burgess bound over Jacobs on a total of 10 charges Wednesday. Jacobs will face eight counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct, and two counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct in Ontonagon County Circuit Court before Judge Michael Pope. Jacobs’ next appearance there has not been scheduled.

Jacobs, 74, faces up to life in prison and a lifetime of electronic monitoring for each of the first-degree criminal sexual conduct charges, and up to 15 years in prison for each second-degree criminal sexual conduct charge. All charges involve victims who were minors at the time of the incidents.

May 21, 2020

Lawsuit: Man alleges Allentown Diocese priests sexually abused, tortured him in church basement in the 1970s

Morning Call

May 20, 2020

By Laurie Mason Schroeder

A Texas man is suing the Roman Catholic Diocese of Allentown and one of its churches, St. Catharine of Siena in Reading, claiming he was sexually abused and tortured by several priests in a church basement in the 1970s.

Timothy Paul McGettigan’s attorneys say their client learned that he was not alone in being abused by Allentown Diocese priests from the scathing 2018 Pennsylvania grand jury report on unchecked sexual abuse by clergy across the state, and decided to come forward. He is seeking a jury trial and unspecified monetary damages.

In the lawsuit, filed this week in Lehigh County Court, McGettigan alleges he was sexually abused by two priests, the Rev. Joseph Grembocki and the Rev. David A. Soderlund, as well as several other priests he cannot identify.

Grembocki died in July 2016 while serving as pastor at Assumption BVM Church in Slatington. He is not named in the Pennsylvania grand jury report and no other accusation has surfaced against him.

Soderlund was defrocked in 2005 and moved to Wyoming, where he was sent to prison for exploiting children and possessing child pornography.

Soderlund was named in the grand jury report and is a registered sex offender in Wyoming.

NY Child Victims Act lawsuits in Broome County accuse former priest, Boy Scout leaders

Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin via USA Today

May 21, 2020

By Anthony Borrelli

After New York state extended the window for legal action under the Child Victims Act by five months, four new lawsuits in Broome County accuse a priest and three Boy Scout leaders in separate cases of alleged decades-old sex abuse.

Due to the coronavirus pandemic, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo extended the deadline to file lawsuits until Jan. 14, 2021.

New York's law for the Child Victims Act created a limited time period where victims could file claims against their alleged, abusers and the institutions that harbored them, regardless of how long ago the abuse took place, or whether criminal charges were ever pursued.

On Monday, in the state Supreme Court in Broome County, a lawsuit by a now 57-year-old Endicott man accused a now-deceased priest, Father Thomas Keating, of sexually abusing him over the course of three years beginning in 1973.

The victim was 11 years old when the abuse began, according to the lawsuit, which was filed against the Roman Catholic Diocese of Syracuse. It alleges the abuse happened while the victim attended St. John the Evangelist School in Binghamton.

Tom Johnson, St. Paul Archdiocese clergy abuse ombudsman, steps down

Star-\ Tribune

May 20, 2020

By Jean Hopfensperger

Volunteer post, required by clergy abuse settlement, will be held by his wife, Victoria Newcome Johnson

Twin Cities attorney Tom Johnson, the first ombudsman for clergy abuse for the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, has stepped down from the role he’s held since 2018, citing health reasons.

The former Hennepin County attorney served as an independent point person for clergy abuse survivors who were reluctant to seek help from the archdiocese.

His wife, Victoria Newcome Johnson, an attorney and educator active in the Twin Cities Catholic community, will assume the voluntary position.

“The opportunity to help victims on a personal level, often being the first person to whom they disclose their abuse, has been very powerful, far beyond what I anticipated,” Tom Johnson said. “In fact, it has been an experience which opened my heart in ways that often don’t occur, particularly in the professional experience of lawyers.”

Creating an independent ombudsman was part of the 2015 settlement agreement between the archdiocese and the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office, which had sued the archdiocese for failing to protect children. When he was appointed, Tom Johnson said he had a personal reason for assuming the unpaid post.

Alleged clergy abuse victim speaks on church bankruptcy

Fox 8 WVUE

May 20, 2020

By Rob Masson

An alleged clergy abuse victim whose lawsuit against the Catholic Church was held up by the church bankruptcy filing two weeks ago wants others to come forward.

He calls the bankruptcy filing a delay tactic, something the Church says is not true.

He says the physical and sexual abuse occurred at Madonna Manor in the mid-70s at the hands of three nuns. He says the worst abuser was 6 feet tall and weighed around 300 pounds.

“She was abusive, she programmed me to do what she wanted,” the alleged victim referred to as Jeff, said.

He claims the abuse begin when he was 11 years old, at the Westbank youth home, he said he was sent to, to deal with dyslexia.

"She started off hitting me causing me to do things," Jeff said.

The alleged victim says one nun, abused him for four months. He says two others abused him sporadically after guitar lessons.

“Two or three nights a week every week for four months,” Jeff said.

“Madonna Manor has a deep history of abuse so deep just left for the history books,” plaintiff attorney John Denenea said.

May 20, 2020

New Orleans priest admits to 'sin' with teen student, still wants retirement payments restarted

Times Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

May 19, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Clergy abuse claimant says she is 'strongly opposed to any predator priest or clergy receiving any funds from the archdiocese,' which recently declared bankruptcy

As a federal bankruptcy judge weighs whether to reverse her order halting payments from the Archdiocese of New Orleans to suspected clergy child molesters, a second priest facing abuse accusations has come forward to ask the judge not to halt the payments.

A filing Monday asking for the reinstatement of payments came from retired clergyman Paul Calamari, who was named by Archbishop Gregory Aymond on his list of credibly-accused priests. In the filing, Calamari concedes that in 1973 he had a “failing” and a “sin” involving a 17-year-old high school boy whom Calamari — then a lay teacher turning 30 — mistakenly believed was 18. An abuse claim stemming from that encounter landed Calamari on the list.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith Grabill, who has tentatively set a hearing on the matter for late Wednesday afternoon, has also received a signed declaration from a woman who said a priest molested her in 1968, when she wasn't even 5. The petition from Linda Lee Stonebreaker, whose father Steve Stonebreaker played for the New Orleans Saints, requested that Grabill stick with her decision on halting payments.

The issue turns on a ruling from Grabill on May 4, three days after the archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, that ordered the immediate halt to any payments for priests who had been credibly accused of child abuse.

Rochester Diocese’s bankruptcy case unaffected by CVA extension

Catholic Courier - Diocese of Rochester

May 19, 2020

By Mike Latona

The deadline for filing proofs of claim in the Diocese of Rochester’s federal bankruptcy case remains Aug. 13, 2020, and is not subject to a recent extension of New York state’s Child Victims Act through January 2021.

On Feb. 25, U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Paul R. Warren set the Aug. 13 deadline — known as the “bar date” — for claims to be filed against the Rochester Diocese. That date coincides with the original end of a one-year window established by the Child Victims Act for the filing of sexual-abuse claims that previously were prohibited by statutes of limitations. Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed the CVA into law in early 2019.

The governor announced May 8 that he was extending the one-year CVA window until Jan. 14, 2021, due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. He said resulting limitations in court services have hampered claimants’ abilities to file claims and effectively consult with attorneys in a timely fashion.

An attorney representing the unsecured creditors’ committee in the Rochester Diocese’s bankruptcy case cited similar concerns in an April 13 statement filed with the bankruptcy court. However, diocesan spokesman Doug Mandelaro noted that federal bankruptcy courts have remained active throughout the pandemic and that the electronic claims process has continued without interruption.

Boy Scout abuse victims have until Nov. 16 to file claims against the organization


May 19, 2020

By Sam Tabachnik

The youth organization filed for bankruptcy in February

Attorneys for the Boy Scouts of America and lawyers representing individuals who allege they were abused as scouts agreed on Monday to a Nov. 16 deadline for victims to file bankruptcy claims against the storied youth organization.

The date was presented to a judge in federal bankruptcy court in Delaware, where the Boy Scouts have been locked in a tense battle over the future of the organization, as both sides argue over which assets may be included in a settlement and how much information the Scouts may have to divulge about their inner workings.

Details are still being worked out over what information victims may need to share on their claimant forms, and how the process will work. But at the minimum, those who wish to file claims now have a drop-dead date.

“I know what abuse survivors feel and think,” Tim Kosnoff, an attorney for Abused in Scouting, which represents 3,200 men who say they were abused as scouts. “This is their deepest, darkest secret and they don’t want to confront it. If they’re told they have to or they lose their rights forever, then they have to make a decision.”

John Paul II centenary celebrations marred by new abuse allegations

Irish Times

May 18, 2020

By Derek Scally

Wadowice, near Krakow, birthplace of Karol Wojtyla on May 18th, 1920, draws crowds

Celebrations to mark the centenary of the birth of St John Paul II in his native Poland were overshadowed on Monday by fresh allegations of clerical sex abuse against children – and church cover-up.

Crowds gathered in the small town of Wadowice, near Krakow, where Karol Wojtyla was born on May 18th, 1920, to honour their famous son.

“Karol Wojtyla was one of the most important figures of the 20th century,” said Polish president Andrzej Duda in a letter read to worshippers at Mass. “His teaching and testimony still touch the hearts and minds of millions of people.”

In Rome, Pope Francis remembered the Polish man who served as pope from 1978 until his death in 2005. In his morning Mass, Pope Francis said that, “One hundred years ago the Lord visited his people.”

As millions remembered the Polish pontiff, a key figure in the country’s peaceful transition to democracy in 1989, nearly five million people in two days have watched the YouTube documentary Hide and Seek.

The second documentary by Polish filmmaker Tomasz Sekielski on child abuse within the Catholic Church, Hide and Seek tells of two brothers who were alleged victims of a priest who was shielded by his bishop.

May 19, 2020

New Australian report may help church find its way out of abuse crisis

National Catholic Reporter

By Massimo Faggiol

May 19, 2020

There are signs that the Catholic Church's response to the sexual abuse crisis is now getting at deeper, institutional questions. In particular, how local churches — parishes and dioceses — are governed.

In the last few years, a unique example that could bring encouraging news has come from the Australian church.

Since 2017-18, the abuse crisis has taken on a new dimension, thanks to the unveiling of cases (such as disgraced former cardinal Theodore McCarrick) and of extensive cover-ups identified and published in the reports of nationwide and regional investigations (such as in Australia, Chile and Pennsylvania).

The new phase of the crisis has focused on the direct involvement of bishops, cardinals and the Vatican. It has also identified that the crisis is not restricted to children and also involves women religious and other vulnerable persons — and has become a global crisis with huge repercussions on the relations between church and state in various countries.

The new phase in the abuse crisis has also shown much complexity: It is not just a legal and ethical crisis, but also a theological one and a crisis of models of church governance.

Pope Francis has reframed the scandal as something that must move the church to conversion. We must consider all the different levels that this conversion must reach: It is a pastoral and theological conversion as well as a conversion of ecclesial structures.

Bankruptcy claims date set for Boy Scouts child sex victims

Associated Press

May 18, 2020

By Randall Chase

Attorneys have agreed on a November deadline for victims of child sex abuse to file claims in the Boy Scouts of America bankruptcy case.

The Nov. 16 date presented to a judge Monday was worked out after attorneys for the official committee representing abuse victims objected to a proposed Oct. 6 deadline and argued that victims should have at least until Dec. 31.

“At a time when millions of Americans are unemployed and preoccupied with basic survival, sexual abuse survivors need and are entitled to a reasonable period of time after they receive notice from the bankruptcy Court to reflect seriously and make a decision whether to file a claim in this case,” attorneys for the victims committee wrote in a court filing.

After filing for bankruptcy, the Boy Scouts initially proposed a deadline of 80 days after notice of the claims process was published, drawing immediate opposition from attorneys for abuse victims. The Boy Scouts later proposed the October deadline. They argued that it allowed more time than in many Catholic diocese bankruptcy cases, and that it provided sufficient time to conduct a nationwide program of print, television, radio and online notices and allow claimants to submit claim forms.

Jessica Boelter, an attorney for the Boy Scouts, said the notification program is expected to reach more than 100 million people, including more than 95% of the primary target audience of men 50 and older. An expert for the Boy Scouts estimated that men in that age group account for more than half of former Boy Scouts and at least 71% of abuse survivors with pending claims against the BSA.

Film accuses Polish church of continued abuse cover-up

Catholic News Service via Catholic San Francisco

May 18, 2020

By Jonathan Luxmoore

The centenary of the birth of St. John Paul II coincided with a new film, "Hide and Seek," screened on YouTube May 16. It accused the Polish church of continuing to cover up sexual abuse by Catholic clergy.

The same day, Archbishop Wojciech Polak, primate of Poland and the bishops' delegate for child protection, said he would ask the Vatican to initiate proceedings against Bishop Edward Janiak of Kalisz for failing to discipline a priest incriminated by the film.

Archbishop Polak said the film showed required child protection standards were still not being observed in the Polish church.

"I thank the victims who talked about the harm they suffered, and I urge everyone with knowledge about the sexual abuse of a minor to remember they are obliged in conscience and by law" to notify authorities, Archbishop Polak said.

Letter to the Editor: Silence won't end scourge of sexual abuse

Richmond Times-Dispatch

May 19, 2020

By Dottie Klammer, SNAP Coordinator, North Chesterfield


It is unfortunate that the Rev. Mark White of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond has fallen from grace with his superior, Bishop Barry Knestout. White’s innate charisma to shepherd attracts parishioners of both the Martinsville and Rocky Mount parishes. While the church gives lip service to transparency in revealing names of sexual abusers and their accomplices, White’s blog offers validation, support and hope.

Sexual abuse affects one to his or her very core. It changes what one thinks of oneself and others, usually culminating in problems with interpersonal relationships. It isn’t like having a bad day. The aftermath lurks over one’s shoulder, exhibiting itself as negativity, fear, anxiety, isolation, anger, depression and — without help — addiction and sometimes suicide. For some, it rears its ugly head on a daily basis. Others are especially affected during times when life stressors are out of their control.

White’s blog offers understanding of the heartache and devastation brought to lives of those who have been abused. Once someone is abused, the wound to one’s personhood during remains the rest of his or her life. The offering of compassion in White’s blog is solace to those who might otherwise remain alone in the aftermath of their plight, often misunderstood by family and friends. In his way, White is righting the wrong of the Catholic Church.

To those who have found safety and honesty in another church, White’s blog might be as a voice in the wind. But in the end, the scourge of the Catholic Church will not go away until it is honestly and completely addressed. The crumbs of compensation offered by the church do not compensate for the names of perpetrators who remain under lock and key.

Woman at the centre of landmark Anglican church settlement on her fight for justice


May 17, 2020

By Jennifer Eder

A woman whose sexual harassment complaint was brushed off by Anglican church leaders has won a landmark settlement and is embarking on another Human Rights Review Tribunal claim.

She was not a regular churchgoer until a traumatic event caused her to question the existence of heaven.

"I had a basic belief in God, but I'd never explored it," the Blenheim woman said.

"I wanted to know, where is that? It's a bit like losing a child in the mall, you have this need to know where they are. What is this place, is it real?"

The woman, who can't be identified, is speaking publicly for the first time after her Human Rights Review Tribunal complaint against her local priest and church saw an unprecedented settlement, including an apology from the Anglican Church, and an acknowledgement that its priests are covered by human rights law in New Zealand.

May 18, 2020

Pope Francis: St John Paul II a man of prayer, closeness, justice

Vatican News

May 18, 2020

By Christopher Wells

Celebrating Mass on the 100th anniversary of the birth of Karol Wojtyla, the future St John Paul II, Pope Francis described his predecessor as a man of prayer, closeness, and justice.

[Note from BishopAccountability.org: The sermon by Pope Francis begins at 13:45 of the video and is dubbed in English.]

Pope Francis celebrated the 100th anniversary of the birth of St John Paul II by offering Holy Mass at the altar where the Polish Pope is buried in St Peter’s Basilica.

Joined by a very limited number of the faithful, the liturgy on Monday morning was the first Mass open to the public after almost two months of restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Lord has visited His People

Pope Francis began his homily by reminding us that God loves His People, and in times of difficulty “visits” them by sending a holy man or a prophet.

In the life of Pope John Paul II, we can see a man sent by God, prepared by Him, and made Bishop and Pope to guide God’s Church. “Today, we can say that the Lord visited His people”.

Pope Francis hails John Paul II as model pastor


May 18, 2020

By Elise Ann Allen

Rome - One hundred years after the birth of Saint John Paul II, Pope Francis Monday called the Polish Pope a gift to the Church and a model pastor who prays, is close to his people and who exercises both justice and mercy.

Speaking in front of St. John Paul II’s tomb in the Vatican, Francis pointed to the day’s psalm response, “The Lord loves his people,” saying that out of this love God “sent a prophet, a man of God, and the people’s reaction was, ‘The Lord has visited his people, because he loved us.’”

“Today, we can say that 100 years ago, the Lord visited his people. He sent a man, he prepared him to be a bishop, and to guide the Church. Remembering John Paul II, let us remember this: The Lord loved his people, the Lord visited his people, he sent a pastor,” the pope said.

Benedict XVI praises legacy of John Paul II, calling him ‘restorer of the Church’


May 15, 2020

By Paulina Guzik

Pope emeritus Benedict XVI commemorated the centennial of the birth of Karol Wojtyła, who became Pope John Paul II, in an open letter to the Polish people addressed to Cardinal Stanisław Dziwisz, who was the longtime private secretary to the Polish pontiff.

A mix of emotional memoir and theological thoughts on the heritage of John Paul - who was born on May 18, 1920, and died April 2, 2005 - the letter is a call not to divide the Church within a line of pontificates, but see each pope as a continuity of his predecessor.

Benedict says John Paul marked a turning point in the history of the Church. After commenting on the turbulences that troubled both the world and the Church at the time of John Paul’s election, the pope emeritus says that “an almost impossible task was awaiting the new pope. Yet, from the first moment on, John Paul II aroused new enthusiasm for Christ and his Church.”

John Paul’s proclamation of “Do not be afraid” characterized his entire pontificate and - Benedict continues - “made him a liberating restorer of the Church.”

St John Paul II honored as Poland sees new abuse allegations

Associated Press

May 18, 2020

By Vanessa Gera

St. John Paul II was honored on the centennial of his birth with special Masses at the Vatican and in his native Poland on Monday, an anniversary that comes as the Polish church finds itself shaken by new allegations of sexual abuse by clerics.

From the small town of Wadowice, Poland, where Karol Wojtya was born on May 18, 1920, to Warsaw and the Vatican, Catholic faithful gave prayers of thanks for the man who was pope from 1978 until his death in 2005.

“Today we can say that 100 years ago the Lord visited his people,” Pope Francis said in a morning Mass in St. Peter’s Basilica. “Celebrating the memory of Saint John Paul II let’s remember this: the Lord loves his people, he visited his people, he sent a shepherd.”

To Poles, John Paul is best remembered for using the papacy to shake the foundations of an oppressive communist system that was toppled across Eastern Europe 11 years into his papacy.

“Karol Wojtyla was one of the most important figures of the 20th century,” Polish President Andrzej Duda said in a letter sent to worshippers at Poland’s holiest site, the Jasna Gora Monastery in Czestochowa. “His teaching and testimony still touch the hearts and minds of millions of people.”

Polish clerical child abuse documentary casts shadow on John Paul II centenary

The Guardian from Agence France-Presse

May 16, 2020

Polish archbishop calls for Vatican to ‘launch proceedings’ after release of child abuse documentary Hide and Seek

[Note from BishopAccountability.org: The new film by Tomasz Sekielski and Marek Sekielski, Zabawa w Chowanego (Hide and Seek) is available in Polish here.

A Polish documentary on child abuse by Catholic clerics has put a damper on centenary celebrations of the late Pope John Paul II’s birth.

After the film Hide and Seek was seen by almost 80,000 people on YouTube, Polish archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Vatican to “launch proceedings” into the cases in question.

It is the second documentary by Tomasz Sekielski on child abuse within the church, and focuses in detail on two brothers who are alleged victims of a priest who was protected by a bishop.

“The film Hide and Seek, which I have just seen, shows that protection standards for children and adolescents in the church were not respected,” Polak said in a video broadcast by the Catholic news agency KAI.

The archbishop added that he had asked the Vatican to launch proceedings under the auspices of an apostolic letter issued by Pope Francis in March 2019 on the protection of minors and vulnerable persons.

New Mexico Court Enjoins SBA from Denying PPP Relief to Debtor in Bankruptcy

Holland & Hart Law Firm via JD Supra

May 14, 2020

On May 1, 2020, the United States Bankruptcy Court for the District of New Mexico ruled in favor of the Roman Catholic Church of the Archdiocese of Santa Fe (Archdiocese) granting a temporary injunction against the Small Business Administration (SBA) that had rejected the Archdiocese’s application for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) Loan under the CARES Act. The case sheds light on how courts may view other SBA rulemaking regarding eligibility for PPP Loans, including the recently announced requirement that PPP applicants and recipients first exhaust other sources of liquidity, or give back funds by May 14, 2020.

In 2018, the Archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy and had been operating as a debtor-in-possession. On March 23, 2020, in response to COVID-19 pandemic the New Mexico Department of Health issued a “stay-at-home” order, prohibiting mass gatherings and requiring all non-essential businesses to cease in-person operations. Due to the stay-at-home orders, the Archdiocese was losing about $300,000 a month in revenue it otherwise would realize from normal operations.

The economic hardship brought on by COVID-19 and the stay-at-home orders led the Archdiocese to file an application for a PPP Loan on April 20, 2020. Not long after the Archdiocese filed its application, the SBA issued a second interim final rule which purported to disqualify bankruptcy debtors from a PPP Loan.

Catholic Television Network of Youngstown receives awards

Mahoning Matters

May 17, 2020

Three Communicator Awards were bestowed.

Canfield - The Catholic Television Network of Youngstown (CTNY) has been selected to receive three 2020 Communicator Awards.

CTNY received an Award of Excellence for for “Wineskins" and Awards of Distinction for “Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal” and “Spotlight.”

Judging for the 26th annual Communicator Awards was by the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts.

“Wineskins” is an award-winning radio program conceived, produced and assembled in a magazine format by CTNY, airing every Sunday over several local radio stations within the six-counties of the Diocese of Youngstown.

Since its beginning in August of 1981, "Wineskins" has won many awards.

“Promise to Protect, Pledge to Heal” is a two-part series produced by CTNY to highlight the issue of clergy sexual abuse. The program host is Father James Korda, president of CTNY.

His guests included Bishop George V. Murry, S.J., Bishop of the Diocese of Youngstown; Msgr. John Zuraw, diocesan Chancellor; and Detective Delphine Baldwin-Casey, investigator for Child Protection.

The “Spotlight” program featured guest, Bob Elder, who told his own personal story as a victim of clergy sexual abuse.

Pope names MN priest as bishop-elect of Rapid City diocese

Capital Journal

May 15, 2020

By Stephen Lee

The Rev. Peter Muhich, a priest in Duluth, Minnesota, as been named bishop-elect of the Catholic Diocese of Rapid City, which includes all of West River South Dakota. A date for his ordination as a bishop, then installation, hasn't been set because of the COVID-19 pandemic has the church nixing most large public meetings.

About a year after Pope Francis appointed Rapid City Bishop Robert Gruss as the new bishop in Saginaw, Michigan, the pope has named the Rev. Peter Muhich (MEW-itch), a priest in the Duluth, Minnesota, diocese as bishop-elect for the bishopric that covers West River South Dakota.

Gruss was ordained a bishop and installed in Rapid City in July 2011, serving until July 2019; he was named Saginaw’s bishop-elect in May 2019 and installed there last July.

That’s the typical time frame between the announcement and the installation of a Catholic bishop.


Muhich described his childhood faith and interest in the priesthood as happening well before the child abuse scandals in the church that came to public attention beginning in the 1980s.

Now that reality will be part of his work in Rapid City, he said.

“It has to be part of every bishop’s ministry,” Muhich told the Capital Journal. “To make sure we are doing everything possible to prevent the abuse of children by anybody, especially by priests, for God’s sake. Making sure the church is a safe place for all, working to prevent any abuse and, if, God forbid, it should happen, to cooperate with law enforcement and let them do their job.”

Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale sentenced to 10 years' jail for sexual abuse of boys in 1970s

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

May 14, 2020

By Iskhandar Razak

Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale will spend at least another three years in jail after pleading guilty to 14 new offences committed against young boys under his care.

"Your sexual abuse, at times when the child was seeking comfort, reveals your utter hypocrisy," the sentencing Judge Gerard Mullaly said.

"They were vulnerable children and you simply used them and violated them for your perverse sexual gratification."

Ridsdale has been in prison since 1994 and was already serving a 33-year sentence for abusing more than 60 children in Victoria, but his non-parole period was due to expire in 2022.

May 17, 2020

Comunicado: Proteger y denunciar los abusos sexuales contra la niñez y adolescencia.

[Statement: Protect and report sexual abuse against children and adolescents.]

Fundación de Estudios para la Aplicación del Derecho – FESPAD.
[The Foundation for Studies for the Application of Law]

May 13, 2020

Caso de Sacerdote procesado.
[Priest case prosecuted.]

El sacerdote, José V. B. U., de 63 años de edad, ha sido acusado por la Fiscalía General de la República por el ilícito de agresión sexual en menor e incapaz, en perjuicio de tres niñas, hechos ocurridos cuando se desempeñaba como párroco en la iglesia Nuestra Señora de Lourdes del Barrio Lourdes de San Salvador.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The priest, José VBU, 63 years old, has been accused by the Office of the Attorney General of the Republic for the crime of sexual assault on a minor and incapable, to the detriment of three girls, events that occurred when he served as pastor in the Nuestra Iglesia Lady of Lourdes from the Lourdes neighborhood of San Salvador.]

El sacerdote tiene abiertos dos procesos, uno que se encuentra en la etapa de instrucción en el Tribunal Quinto de Instrucción de San Salvador, donde las afectadas son dos niñas; y el otro caso se encuentra a conocimiento del Tribunal Quinto de Sentencia, a la espera de la vista pública, en perjuicio de una niña.

[GOOGLE TRANSLATION: The priest has two processes open, one that is in the investigation stage in the Fifth Court of Instruction of San Salvador, where the affected are two girls; and the other case is before the Fifth Sentencing Court, pending public hearing, to the detriment of a girl.]

KBI is investigating priests in Kansas town that draws parishioners from across U.S.

Kansas City Star

May 17, 2020

By Judy L. Thomas

KBI investigating sex abuse allegations within St. Marys, Kansas, traditionalist Catholic society

For four decades, the Society of St. Pius X has made its home in this northeast Kansas town, its followers coming from across the country to raise their children according to traditional Catholic values.

Now, with attendance at Latin Mass topping 4,000, plans are underway for the breakaway Catholic society to build a $30 million church high on its campus overlooking St. Marys. The Immaculata, the SSPX says, will become the biggest traditional Catholic church in the world.

But something else is underway that threatens to overshadow the jubilation over a new house of worship with enough room to accommodate the ever-expanding flock: A criminal investigation by the state’s top law enforcement agency into allegations of priest sexual abuse.

Woman at the centre of landmark Anglican church settlement on her fight for justice


May 17, 2020

By Jennifer Eder

A woman whose sexual harassment complaint was brushed off by Anglican church leaders has won a landmark settlement and is embarking on another Human Rights Review Tribunal claim, writes Jennifer Eder.

She was not a regular churchgoer until a traumatic event caused her to question the existence of heaven.

"I had a basic belief in God, but I'd never explored it," the Blenheim woman said.

"I wanted to know, where is that? It's a bit like losing a child in the mall, you have this need to know where they are. What is this place, is it real?"

The woman, who can't be identified, is speaking publicly for the first time after her Human Rights Review Tribunal complaint against her local priest and church saw an unprecedented settlement, including an apology from the Anglican Church, and an acknowledgement that its priests are covered by human rights law in New Zealand.

Archbishop Eamon Martin: 'The awful crimes and sins of abuse in the Catholic Church continue to cause me shame ... as Pope Benedict put it, such abuse has obscured the light of the Gospel'

Belfast Telegraph

May 16, 2020

By Alf McCreary

The Most Reverend Eamon Martin is the Catholic Archbishop of Armagh and Primate of All Ireland.

Q. Can you tell us about your background?

A. I was born on October 30, 1961 and I grew up in Derry in the Sixties and Seventies and was blessed to be a member of a large family of six boys and six girls and to have a great education at St Patrick's Primary School, Pennyburn and St Columb's College, where I eventually was to return as a teacher and school principal.

Q. How and when did you come to faith?

Polish archbishop refers child sex abuse case to Vatican

BBC News

May 17, 2020

By Adam Easton and others

The head of Poland's Roman Catholic Church has said he is asking the Vatican to investigate the cover-up of child sexual abuse by priests.

Archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Church hierarchy to "launch proceedings" following the release of a documentary on the subject on Saturday.

The film tells the story of two brothers who seek to confront a priest who allegedly abused them as children.

The Vatican is expected to assign an investigator to the case.

The film - "Hide and Seek" - has been viewed more than 1.9 million times on YouTube. It is the second documentary on the subject by brothers Marek and Tomasz Sekielski.

It follows two victims as they attempt to bring to account those in the Church who were responsible for covering up their abuse.

It alleges that a senior bishop knew about the allegations for years but failed to take any action.

A new awareness in Poland

By Adam Easton, BBC Warsaw correspondent

In churches across Poland today, people are celebrating the life of their Pope, John Paul II, a day ahead of the centenary of his birth.

Numbers will be smaller than usual due to the coronavirus restrictions, but Karol Wojtyla, the first non-Italian to become pope in more than 450 years, is still revered in his homeland. In particular, for germinating the belief among people here in the 1980s that together, they could achieve the end of the communist regime, which then seemed impossible.

The Polish Catholic Church's vital role in that victory subsequently gave it enormous influence in Polish society, including over politicians. The current Law and Justice-led government promotes traditional Catholic values.

When the Sekielski brothers' first documentary became a subject of national debate last May, it agreed that a state commission should be set up. But it said it must not solely focus on the sexual abuse of children by priests, but also by members of other professions. The law to create the commission took effect in September, but since then, nothing has happened.

New documentary highlights abuse cover-up in Poland


May 17, 2020

By Paulina Guzik

A new Polish documentary film on sexual abuse by Catholic clergy was released Saturday through the internet. Hide and Seek, produced by brothers Marek and Tomasz Sekielski, documents not only the sexual abuse of children within the Church in Poland, but also the abuse of power by the Church hierarchy.

The film is a follow-up to the Sekielski brothers’ documentary Tell No One, which was quickly referred to in the media as the “Polish Spotlight” - referring to the 2015 Oscar-winning film documenting the Boston Globe’s 2002 investigation into clerical sexual abuse in the Archdiocese of Boston.

After the documentary aired, the Primate of Poland, Archbishop Wojciech Polak - who also serves as the Delegate of Child Protection of Polish Bishops Conference - immediately announced that he had reported the case in the documentary to the Vatican’s representative in the country.

Polish archbishop refers child abuse negligence case to Vatican


May 16, 2020

By Joanna Plucinska and Alicja Ptak

The Polish Catholic Church’s most senior archbishop notified the Vatican on Saturday of a Polish bishop accused of shielding priests known to have sexually abused children.

The referral, unprecedented in the deeply religious country, will test procedures introduced by the Vatican last year to hold to account bishops accused of turning a blind eye to child sex abuse. The Vatican is now expected to assign an investigator to the case.

“I ask priests, nuns, parents and educators to not be led by the false logic of shielding the Church, effectively hiding sexual abusers,” Poland’s Primate Wojciech Polak said in a statement published on Saturday.

“There is no place among the clergy to sexually abuse minors. We do not allow for the hiding of these crimes.”

The case came to prominence after a film by brothers Tomasz and Marek Sekielski, released on Saturday, showed how bishop Edward Janiak, based in the city of Kalisz, failed to take action against priests who were known to have abused children.

Polish paedophile film mars John Paul II centenary

Agence France-Presse via TRTworld.com

May 17, 2020

A Polish documentary on child abuse by Catholic clerics put a damper Saturday on centenary celebrations of the venerated late Pope John Paul II's birth.

After the film "Hide and Seek" was seen by almost 80,000 people on YouTube, Polish archbishop Wojciech Polak called on the Vatican to "launch proceedings" into the cases in question.

It is the second documentary by Tomasz Sekielski on child abuse within the church, and focuses in detail on two brothers who are alleged victims of a priest who was protected by a bishop.

The infamous moment Sinéad O’Connor was banned from SNL for life

Far Out Magazine

May 16, 2020

We’re looking back at one of television’s most infamous moments. Sinéad O’Connor is a musician who has never been shy to make her opinion well known in the public eye. Nothing compares, though, to her now-legendary appearance performing on SNL back in 1992.

Saturday Night Live has had several acts break the rules and find themselves on the wrong end of Lorne Michaels’ wrath. But perhaps none were as scandalous as O’Connor’s moment of infamy.

SNL, the now-iconic late-night live television sketch comedy and variety show, has been running prolifically each week since launching in 1975.

The tragic tale of America’s most disturbed family

Irish Central

May 17, 2020

By Shane O'Brien

Robert Kolker's 'Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family' is an account of the Galvin family, where six out of ten sons were diagnosed as schizophrenic.

A new biography tells the tragic tale of an American family thought to be one of the most disturbed families in American history.

'Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family' is an account of the Galvin family in Colorado Springs where six out of ten sons were diagnosed as schizophrenic.

Robert Kolker's in-depth study examines how one son murdered his wife, one son raped his sister, and how one son tortured a cat to death for no reason.

The Galvin family started like many other American families in the 1940s.

An unplanned pregnancy forced Donald Galvin Sr. to marry Mimi Blayney in a shotgun wedding in Mexico in 1944.

Donald was about to shipped out to the South Pacific to fight in the US Navy during the Second World War and the couple's story was not unlike many other wartime couples who had to rush marriages in order to avoid the stigma and dishonor that accompanied unmarried pregnancies.

Little did they know that their first-born son, Donald Jr., would be the first of 12 children.

May 16, 2020

Va. man says he was sexually abused by priest growing up in Northern Panhandle

West Virginia Record

May 15, 2020

By Chris Dickerson

A Virginia man says a priest with a history of such offenses sexually assaulted him when he was an altar boy growing up in the Northern Panhandle.

Michael Pirraglia of Fairfax, Va., filed his complaint May 15 in Hancock Circuit Court against the Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston.

Pirraglia says his family attended St. Paul Catholic Church in Weirton when he was growing up. One of the priests assigned to the church then was Rev. Victor Frobas.

Frobas worked for the Diocese from 1965 to 1983. Before that, Frobas worked for the Diocese of Philadelphia, where there were multiple claims alleging Frobas abused minors.

A Remembrance Of Sister Georgianna Glose

National Public Radio

May 16, 2020

[AUDIO: 4-minute listen]

NPR's Scott Simon talks with Teresa Theophano about Georgianna Glose, the Brooklyn nun who blew the whistle on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church. She died from COVID-19 complications.

Media Statement: Diocese of Rapid City, SD to Get New Bishop


May 13, 2020

By SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

A new bishop has been chosen to lead one of the smallest Catholic dioceses in the nation. We call on him to make the protection of children and the prevention of abuse his number one priority now that he is officially in charge.

Fr. Peter M. Muhich, a priest from the Diocese of Duluth, has been chosen by Pope Francis to lead the Diocese of Rapid City, SD. That diocese has a sordid history with clergy abuse, having once been headed by a bishop who was himself an abuser. Bishop-elect Muhich now has the chance to come in and make his mark by leading the diocese into a new era of openness, transparency, and protection for children and the vulnerable.

Media Statement: Diocese of Youngstown Clears Priest, SNAP Calls for Clarification


May 12, 2020

By SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests)

A priest who had previously been determined to have “credible” allegations of abuse against him has suddenly removed from the diocesan list following a new investigation. We call on Catholic officials to be clear and direct in sharing the information with the public that has resulted in this change.

Fr. William Smaltz was included on the initial list of priests accused of abuse released by the Diocese of Youngstown in 2018. Despite that listing, diocesan leaders now claim that they have determined those allegations are no longer "credible," but have released precious little information to the public.

There are many unanswered questions about this situation, chief among them being who was in charge of this new investigation? Similarly, what facts have emerged that made previously “credible” claims suddenly unsubstantiated? Catholic officials in Youngstown are saying little about this case which does a disservice to parishioners, parents, and the public.

Why the Pell verdict has done little to shift public opinion in Australia

Catholic Herald

May 15, 2020

By Natasha Marsh

There has been only one topic in Australia that has broken through the Covid-19 eclipse, and that is the exoneration of Cardinal George Pell by the High Court on Tuesday, April 7. By a unanimous decision, 7-0, the court acquitted the cardinal of all charges, saying there should have been “sufficient doubt” in the minds of the jury when they condemned him over a year ago.

This could have marked the end of a bitter episode, yet many Australians – in a mirrored unanimity – voted to ignore the High Court’s decision: in their own minds, the Cardinal remains a guilty man.

My story from victim to advocate

Stand Up Speak Up (blog)

May 8, 2020

By Tim Lennon

At age 12, I was raped and sexually abused for months. I froze. Now I fight back. The radio interview covers my steps from victim to advocate.

Also, I detail my journey of recovering memories from previous decades. As a result of substantial investigation, I discovered that the sexual predator who raped me got caught three times previous to his assignment to my parish and elementary school.

[How to Research an Abuser]

Radio interview with National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse, NAASCA.org.

See more of my story, narrative, photos, and documents on My Story.

The Editors: Joe Biden should open his personal files


May 15, 2020

Tara Reade was interviewed by the journalist Megyn Kelly on May 8 regarding Ms. Reade’s allegations of sexual harassment and assault by Joseph R. Biden Jr., the presumptive Democratic nominee for president. Ms. Reade alleges that Mr. Biden assaulted her in 1993, when he was serving as a U.S. senator and Ms. Reade was a member of his staff.

As Doreen St. Felix wrote in The New Yorker, “the interview yielded little new information, offering viewers a chance to put a face to a name and to decide for themselves, based on not much more than a feeling in the gut, whether they would grant Reade their sympathy.”

Guerrero: Holy See’s bottom line is in view of mission

Vatican News

May 13, 2020

By Andrea Torniello

The Vatican is not at risk of default, says the Prefect of the Holy See’s Secretariat for the Economy. “We are not a company. Everything can be measured in terms of deficit. We live thanks to the help of the faithful and we pay 17 million Euros a year in taxes to Italy. We work for a transparent system and for the centralization of investments.”

Father Juan Antonio Guerrero Alves was appointed just a few months ago as Prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy. Pope Francis himself called on him to carry out a reform that aims at the economic transparency of the Holy See and an ever more efficient use of the goods and resources at the service of its evangelizing mission. Fr Alves now finds himself having to deal with the crisis caused by Covid-19. Not wanting to grant this interview, he explained that he thinks “there are other more important things in the Church. I would also have liked to wait longer before speaking. However, this moment is challenging for everyone – for us as well. It also requires clarity.”

Head of Vatican Finances: No Default but ‘Difficult Years’ Ahead

National Catholic Register

May 13, 2020

By Edward Pentin

Jesuit Father Antonio Guerrero Alves told Vatican News that he anticipates a steep drop in annual revenues, due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The Vatican is not at risk of default but has “difficult years ahead” and could lose nearly a half of its annual revenue due to the coronavirus, the head of Vatican finances has said.

In a May 13 Vatican News interview with Andrea Tornielli, the editorial director of the Dicastery for Communications, Jesuit Father Antonio Guerrero Alves, who last year succeeded Cardinal George Pell as prefect of the Secretariat for the Economy, said the “most optimistic calculate a decrease in revenue of around 25%, the most pessimistic, around 45%.”

The Spanish Jesuit added that his optimistic and pessimistic forecasts depend on “external factors” and how much the Vatican can reduce costs.

Analysis: what extreme financial straits mean for Vatican financial reform

Catholic Herald

May 13, 2020

By Christopher Altieri

The Italian daily, Il Mesaggero, published a piece earlier this week by their Vaticanologist, Franca Giansoldati, detailing a financial outlook that is very grim, indeed.

Internal Vatican documents obtained by Il Messaggero – a paper Pope Francis reads regularly – show that curial heads are contemplating drops in revenue between 30% and 80% in 2020, and a resulting deficit between 28% and 175%, depending on how successful cost-controlling measures – some of which are already in place – prove to be.

The documents, which came from the Secretariat for the Economy, detail best-case, middle-case, and worst-case scenarios.

Postulator says he found no evidence St. John Paul covered up abuse

Catholic News Service

May 15, 2020

By Carol Glatz

The postulator and the commission involved in investigating the life of Pope John Paul II for sainthood cause found no evidence that the pope knowingly neglected or covered up abuse scandals, the postulator said.

Msgr. Slawomir Oder, the promoter of the cause, told reporters in Rome during an online meeting May 15 that he and investigators saw nothing "that could possibly be claimed as (being) a shadow of guilt in regard to John Paul II."

However, Msgr. Oder also explained that the investigators did not have direct access to the relevant Vatican archives but had to send the topics they wanted to explore and questions to the Secretariat of State.

Official in John Paul II’s sainthood cause says no cover-up on sex abuse


May 16, 2020

By Elise Ann Allen

Official in John Paul II’s sainthood cause says no cover-up on sex abuse

Facing suggestions that Saint John Paul II’s reputation has been stained by the Church’s child sexual abuse scandals, including perceptions that John Paul turned a blind eye to accusations against certain leading churchmen, the official responsible of the Polish Pope’s sainthood cause insisted Friday his record was thoroughly investigated and no evidence of wrongdoing was found.

“No, John Paul II didn’t cover [up] for any pedophile,” Monsignor Slawomir Oder told journalists May 15.

The judicial vicar of the ordinary tribunal of the Diocese of Rome and postulator of the cause of canonization of Saint John Paul II, Oder spoke during a May 15 virtual press roundtable marking the centenary of John Paul II’s birth May 18.

Retired pope suggests St. John Paul II be called “the Great”

Associated Press

May 15, 2020

By Nicole Winfield

Emeritus Pope Benedict XVI has honored St. John Paul II on the centenary of his birth and floated the idea that he should be called “the Great,” as only two other popes have been.

John Paul’s longtime secretary, Cardinal Stanislaw Dziwisz, held a press conference in Krakow, Poland, on Friday to present a letter by Benedict, which was released to the media in a half-dozen languages. The fanfare suggested that Dziwisz wanted to draw attention to the praise of his beloved John Paul, who was born 100 years ago this coming Monday.

The four-page letter covers territory long of concern to Benedict, but is also heavy on Polish history and John Paul’s personal background, suggesting that the 92-year-old Benedict didn’t write it alone. The letter traces John Paul’s quarter-century pontificate, his encyclicals, devotions and foreign trips, as well as the final moments of his life and the chants of “Santo Subito” or “Sainthood Now” that erupted soon thereafter.

May 15, 2020

State judge upholds Child Victims Act, dismissing Diocese of Rockville Centre’s challenge

LI Herald

May 15, 2020

By Briana Bonfiglio

A state judge in Nassau County has dismissed the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s motion challenging the New York Child Victims Act (CVA).

Signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Feb. 14, 2019, the CVA allows a one-year period for victims of childhood sexual abuse to bring claims against individual abusers or institutions responsible for those abusers, forgoing the statute of limitations for victims 23 and older.

The Diocese had filed a motion to dismiss the CVA on Nov. 12, 2019, citing that changing the statute of limitation infringed on its right to due process. In addition, by dismissing dozens of lawsuits brought to the institution through the CVA, the Diocese had hoped to maintain funding to compensate victims through its own Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program.

Catholic bishops across Illinois announce church reopening plans as other religious groups mull way forward

Chicago Tribune

May 14, 2020

By Javonte Anderson and Katherine Rosenberg-Douglas

The Archdiocese of Chicago and other Catholic dioceses throughout the state announced phased plans to begin reopening Catholic churches, starting in Chicago with small gatherings for baptisms, weddings, funerals and confession as early as May 23.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker has been under increasing pressure in recent days as smaller churches have sued the state, trying to lift the almost two-month-old stay-at-home order’s application to religious gatherings. The governor added “free exercise of religion” as an essential activity to his revised stay-at-home order late April 30, after a rural church filed suit against the plan, and Catholic leaders soon after said they were working on a plan to reopen churches. The Catholic bishops reached an agreement with the state Wednesday, according to letters posted on their dioceses’ websites.

Orange Church Sues Health Director Over Coronavirus Shutdown


May 15, 2020

By Alfred Branch

The lawsuit argues that a March 16 order by the Orange Health Department​ went beyond an order issued by Gov. Ned Lamont.

A Catholic church in Orange is suing the town's health director for canceling religious services during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, writes the New Haven Register.

Our Lady of Sorrows Church on Spring Street claims in a federal lawsuit that Dr. Amir Mohammad discriminated against the church by ordering the cancellation of its services. Bridgeport attorney C. Christian Young filed the lawsuit in United States District Court on behalf of the Rev. Bernard Champagne, the church's 87-year-old priest.

[News Release] William Smaltz’s Named Removed From List Of Clergy With Allegations Of Sexual Abuse Of A Minor

Diocese of Youngstown

May 11, 2020

By Matthew Pecchia

William Smaltz was included in a list of Clergy of the Diocese of Youngstown against whom credible, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been made. Upon further inquiry and consideration of additional and new information, the allegations are not deemed credible and substantiated. Accordingly, William Smaltz’s name has been removed from the foregoing list.

Former Massillon priest cleared in investigation


May 12, 2020

By Charita Goshay

A former priest included on a 2018 list of clergy under investigation for improper conduct has been cleared by the Catholic Diocese of Youngstown.

In a statement from the diocese, an investigation found no credible evidence to support accusations made against the former Rev. William Smaltz involving the sexual abuse of a minor.

A native of Youngstown, Smaltz, 89, was ordained in the 1950s. He served at St. Mary’s Parish in Massillon, St. Edward parish in Youngstown, Our Lady of Lourdes in East Palestine and St. Mary’s in Conneaut.

Smaltz left the priesthood in the 1970s and later married.

According to a report published by the Vindicator, Smaltz and his attorney presented the diocese with evidence disputing the accusation, which resulted in the investigation being dropped.

Sex offenders operated at highest levels of scouting groups, report finds

Irish Times

May 15, 2020

By Jack Power

Scouting bodies protected each other and their reputations while facilitating sex abuse

Child sexual abuse was “tolerated” at the highest levels of former scouting organisations, with the crimes of those who preyed on children covered up to protect the reputation of the movement, a damning report has concluded.

There is evidence that groups of sex offenders operated at the top of Scouting Ireland’s legacy organisations to protect each other and “facilitate” child abuse, a report by child protection expert Ian Elliott found.

The Government is to consider the findings of the report and decide whether a statutory inquiry into the historic abuse may be required. However, there are concerns over whether such an inquiry would be able to uncover substantially more information, according to sources.

Scouting Ireland made a full organisational apology on foot of the report’s publication on Thursday. The historic abuse relates to the Catholic Boy Scouts of Ireland (CBSI) and the Scout Association of Ireland, which merged to form Scouting Ireland in 2004.

The report said one of the legacy bodies was a “seriously dysfunctional organisation”, with “sex offenders dominating the leadership for decades”.

The culture of the former organisations were defined by “cronyism” and poor governance, which led to a consistent failure to report child abuse to authorities, it said. There was an “almost complete absence of any concern for the young people who were abused”, the report found.

Scouting Ireland has now identified 356 alleged victims of historic abuse, and 275 alleged perpetrators, who primarily operated between the 1960s and 1990s

“We have looked the other way, but thank God that has changed,” announced Bishop José Manuel

The Leader

May 15, 2020

The Diocese of Cartagena intends to investigate the sexual abuse of minors and vulnerable people that has been committed within the Catholic Church between 1950 and 2010.

To do this, a special episcopal delegation has been created, detail of which were announced on Thursday by the bishop of Cartagena, José Manuel Lorca Planes, and his episcopal delegate, Gil José Sáez Martínez.

“I have warned all priests of the importance of this investigation,” stressed the Bishop, “and that anyone standing in the way of possible victims will be committing a truly criminal act .”

Sáez Martínez said that the new delegation has already attended eight alleged victims adding that that they will receive comprehensive care. “The problem is that we are attending to the victims, but only on the legal level. This is a situation that also needs psychological and spiritual support.”

The new episcopal delegate explained that the investigation of possible cases registered in the Region, in those six decades “requires time and investigation.

Inheritance of Shame: A Story of Conversion Therapy

Other/Wise, the Online Journal of the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education

May 2020

by Peter Gajdics

I was born in 1964 in Vancouver, Canada, the youngest of five children to Catholic immigrant parents. My mother, an ethnic German, was born in the former Yugoslavia, and escaped three years in a communist concentration camp post World War II; my father, born in Hungary, was raised an orphan, and at about the same time, he also fled the rising communist regime and made his way to Canada, where my parents met and married, in 1956.

Religion and family all meant a great deal to my parents when my siblings and I were children. By most people’s standards, we were a close family: dinners together every night; piano lessons; Christmases with all the decorations; homemade European baking; Catholic schools for all us kids; and, of course, church every Sunday.

It was in my Catholic elementary school, when I was six years old, that a stranger molested me in the boy’s bathroom during a church gathering. I never talked about that abuse with anyone—already at the age of six, I’d learned to hide my shame and to silence myself. But there were cracks in my silence; soon after, I began experiencing night terrors, deep depression, and high anxiety.

Catholic brother nicknamed 'The Rat' jailed for sex abuse of four Traralgon schoolboys

Australian Broadcasting Corporation

May 15, 2020

By Kellie Lazzaro

Key points:
-- McNamara indecently assaulted more than 15 young boys between 1970 and 1975
-- He will serve seven months in prison after pleading guilty to four charges of indecent assault and one count of common assault
-- McNamara worked as headmaster and sports master at St Paul's Catholic College in Traralgon, Victoria where students nicknamed him The Rat

Marist brother Gerard Joseph McNamara, 82, has begun his second stint in prison after pleading guilty to indecently assaulting Traralgon school boys in the 1970s.

McNamara was working at St Paul's Catholic College in Traralgon when he indecently assaulted more than 15 students between 1970 and 1975.

He abused his victims while giving them massages in the monastery, his office and a sports equipment shed, and many were targeted multiple times.

Many of the abused boys were known as victims and ridiculed by their peers.

McNamara was sentenced in the Victorian County Court today to 35 months in prison, with 28 months suspended, after pleading guilty to four charges of indecent assault and one count of common assault.

May 14, 2020

In new biography, Benedict XVI laments modern 'anti-Christian creed'

Catholic News Agency

May 4, 2020

Modern society is formulating an “anti-Christian creed” and punishing those who resist it with “social excommunication,” Benedict XVI has said in a new biography, published in Germany May 4.

In a wide-ranging interview at the end of the 1,184-page book, written by German author Peter Seewald, the pope emeritus said the greatest threat facing the Church was a “worldwide dictatorship of seemingly humanistic ideologies.”

Benedict XVI, who resigned as pope in 2013, made the comment in response to a question about what he had meant at his 2005 inauguration, when he urged Catholics to pray for him “that I may not flee for fear of the wolves.”

Protests Increase against EWTN's New Shepherd

Church Militant

May 14, 2020

By Martina Moyski

The newly named bishop-designate of Birmingham, Alabama, who will serve as spiritual advisor to EWTN, is coming to his new position with unresolved allegations of cover-up on his back.

Bishop Steven J. Raica has been accused of "maintaining the ministry of priests who abuse kids," according to a press release issued May 12 by St. Mary MacKillop Coalition for the Protection of Children and Vulnerable Adults.

The Coalition issued the statement "to help spread the word" of Bp. Raica's cover-ups before he steps into the sphere of the world's largest Catholic network.

E-mails, letters and news reports that circulated throughout the diocese of Gaylord, Michigan — Bp. Raica's previous location — show that the bishop promised the community that a priest credibly accused of sexual misconduct who was to have been permanently removed from ministry in 2002, may never have been removed from ministry at all, St. Mary MacKillop Coalition president Nadja Tirrell said.

Emails in the possession of the coalition show Fr. Jim Holtz was back in ministry in May of 2019, despite Bp. Raica's reassurances to the contrary to the diocese.

Priest suspected of preying on Louisiana's deaf argues end of archdiocesan support is 'draconian'


May 14, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

In a remarkable letter filed in federal court Thursday, a priest suspected of molesting children while tending to the deaf reveals that he has continued receiving financial support from the Archdiocese of New Orleans since his 1980 removal from the ministry — and complains he’s on the brink of homelessness because the archdiocese’s recent bankruptcy filing put a stop to the payments.

The letter's author is Gerard Howell, who served at several New Orleans-area churches, established a center for the deaf in Baton Rouge, and was removed from the ministry 16 years after his ordination over what the missive characterizes as “serious mistakes in the past.”

Howell, 80, was not named in the archdiocese’s most recent listing of retired priests who are entitled to benefits such as a monthly pension, insurance coverage and archdiocese-owned housing. Nonetheless, Howell’s emailed letter notes that in 1995, then-Archbishop Francis Schulte “promised to fully provide” for him, citing a directive from the Congregation for the Clergy, an entity in Rome that oversees diocesan priests.

Pope Francis asked to restore pay, benefits of priest accused of abuse

Buffalo News

May 14, 2020

By Jay Tokasz

A Williamsville attorney is asking Pope Francis to intervene and reinstate the pay and benefits of a priest who was suspended from ministry due to substantiated allegations of child sex abuse.

The lawyer, Michael S. Taheri, said in a letter to the pontiff that there was no “legal or canonical basis” for Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger to terminate pay and benefits for the Rev. Samuel Venne.

Scharfenberger on May 1 cut off monthly pay and benefits for Venne and 22 other priests accused of abuse or misconduct. The move was part of negotiations in federal bankruptcy court with a creditor’s committee representing more than 200 plaintiffs who alleged child sex abuse by priests and sued the diocese under the Child Victims Act.

But according to church law, Scharfenberger is obligated to provide financial support for all Buffalo Diocese priests, even those who have been removed from ministry due to substantiated allegations of child sex abuse.

NY judge upholds Child Victims Act after challenge by Rockville Centre diocese

Catholic News Agency via Catholic World Report

May 14, 2020

A judge ruled Wednesday that New York’s Child Victims Act is constitutional, rejecting a suit filed by the Diocese of Rockville Centre that claimed the law is barred by the due process clause in the state constitution.

The act opened a one-year window for adults in the state who were sexually abused as children to file lawsuits against their abusers. It also adjusted the statute of limitations for both pursuing criminal charges and civil suits against sexual abusers or institutions where the abuse took place.

“The court finds the Child Victims Act is a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past child sexual abuse,” Justice Steven Jaeger of the New York Supreme Court in Nassau County wrote in his May 13 decision. “Accordingly, it does not violate defendant diocese’s right to due process under the New York State Constitution.

Judge Sets Deadline for Abuse Claims Vs. Harrisburg Diocese

Associated Press

May 13, 2020

A federal judge is giving most claimants until Nov. 13 to seek compensation over child sexual abuse from the Harrisburg Roman Catholic Diocese, which sought bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

The order signed last week by Chief Bankruptcy Judge Henry Van Eck also gave governmental entities until Dec. 11 to file proofs of claims for debts.

The diocese issued a statement on Wednesday that encouraged anyone with a claim involving “any actual or alleged sexual offense” by its clergy, teachers, employees or volunteers to submit a claims form.

Child Victims Act Does Not Violate Diocese's Due Process Right, Nassau Justice Rules

New York Law Journal

May 13, 2020

By Ryan Tarinelli

The law opened up a legal "look-back" window for survivors of child sex abuse, giving them the opportunity to file lawsuits over older claims typically barred by statutes of limitation.

The Child Victims Act does not violate the Catholic Diocese of Rockville Centre’s due process right under New York’s constitution, a Nassau County Supreme Court justice has ruled.

“Based on this legislative history, the court finds the Child Victims Act is a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past child sexual abuse,” wrote Justice Steven Jaeger in a ruling filed Wednesday.

The law opened up a legal “look-back” window for survivors of child sex abuse, giving them the opportunity to file lawsuits over older claims typically barred by statutes of limitation.

Sean Dolan, a spokesperson for the diocese, said they disagree with the court’s ruling in regard to the due process challenge to the act.

“We are analyzing our options with respect to appeal of this and other issues,” he said in the statement.

The ruling was lauded by advocates for the survivors of child sex abuse.

Scouting Ireland to publish final report into historic child abuse

Irish Times

May 13, 2020

By Jack Power

Child protection expert Ian Elliott’s awaited report into past child sex abuse completed

Scouting Ireland is to publish a final report on Thursday into historic child sex abuse that took place in legacy scouting organisations, completed by child protection expert Ian Elliott.

The report is understood to be around 50 pages in length and makes 12 recommendations, as well as detailing several case studies. Scouting Ireland is to make an “organisational apology” to all survivors of past abuse in response to the report’s publication.

Mr Elliott, who also acted as Scouting Ireland’s interim safeguarding manager for several months, has been investigating the historic abuse for over a year.

How central is Catholic church in New Orleans? Many federal judges recuse themselves from abuse cases


May 14, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

One served as the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ in-house attorney. Another was on the board of the archdiocese’s seminary and earned an award for organizing monthly Masses for special-needs parishioners. A third is married to an attorney who is representing the archdiocese as it seeks bankruptcy protection. Yet another serves on an archdiocesan charity's board.

Respectively, U.S. District Judges Wendy Vitter, Jay Zainey, Sarah Vance and Ivan Lemelle are four members of the federal bench in New Orleans who have recused themselves from clergy abuse lawsuits that were transferred to their courthouse after the church filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on May 1.

May 13, 2020

Employee sues Catholic Diocese of Saginaw, claiming retaliation for reporting sex-abuse complaint


May 12, 2020

By Cole Waterman

A man who says his job with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was impacted after he reported a sex-abuse complaint against a priest has filed a lawsuit against the diocese.

In the suit, Gabriel Villarreal alleges he was retaliated against by the diocese and its agents for reporting a relative had been assaulted by the Rev. Robert J. DeLand. A jury acquitted DeLand of charges related to the relative, but DeLand was convicted of sexual assaulting a different person in a separate case.

Villarreal is a maintenance worker for the diocese.

Child sexual abuse deadline extended - but not for claims against Rochester priests

Rochester Democrat and Chronicle

May 12, 2020

By Steve Orr

The one-year window for filing lawsuits over past acts of child sexual abuse has been extended by five months — except for claims against the Rochester diocese for misconduct by its priests.

New York's Child Victims Act, approved by the state Legislature in early 2019, carved out a one-year period for reviving old child sexual abuse claims that had been barred the statute of limitations. That one-year window was to close Aug. 13.

But in an executive order prompted by the coronavirus pandemic, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Friday extended the window for five months, to Jan. 13. The pandemic forced closure of the state's courts in late March and ended filing of new lawsuits. It is not yet known when state courts will reopen.

The extension does not apply, however, to legal claims alleging past child sexual abuse by Catholic priests, brothers, deacons, nuns and other leaders in the Rochester diocese.

Lynne Abraham and the Power of Persistence

Jewish Exponent

May 13, 2020

By Sophie Panzer

Lynne Abraham doesn’t quit.

In the midst of a global pandemic, the 79-year-old former Philadelphia District Attorney has commandeered her dining room table so that she can work from home. Social distancing has limited interviews to phone calls and email, but she paints a picture with her words.

“My dining room table is a dog’s breakfast — the same as any desk I’ve ever sat behind,” she noted.

Abraham is a partner at the law firm Archer & Greiner, P.C. This might come as a surprise to the firms who refused to hire women in 1965, the year she graduated from Temple Law School as one of two women in her class and had difficulty finding work. Even more surprising might be her four terms as the city’s DA and her 2015 mayoral campaign.

She knew the odds were against her in many of her professional endeavors. It never stopped her from trying.

Advocates fight traffickers who continue to thrive despite pandemic

Catholic News Service

May 13, 2020

By Dennis Sadowski

Advocates fighting human traffickers are alerting children, parents and vulnerable adults that the coronavirus pandemic has pushed traffickers into new venues, potentially endangering more people to being exploited.

Seemingly innocent online venues are becoming popular places for sex traffickers to groom unwitting children and entice adults facing financial turmoil because of the pandemic. The danger is leading the advocates to call for funding of anti-trafficking programs in any new federal legislation in response to the public health crisis.



May 13, 2020

(Nassau County, NY) – A Nassau County Court has denied the Diocese of Rockville Centre’s callous attempt to throw out 44 lawsuits filed by sexual abuse survivors under New York’s Child Victims Act.

Yesterday, Nassau County Supreme Court Judge Steven M. Jaeger issued an order denying the dozens of motions to dismiss filed by the diocese. Judge Jaeger rejected the diocese’s argument that the Child Victims Act was unconstitutional and violated its right to due process. Referencing the intent and actions of the New York legislature, Judge Jaeger concluded that the “Child Victims Act was a reasonable response to remedy the injustice of past sexual abuse.”

“This decision is huge in assuring survivors’ voices can be heard and children can be better protected,” said Attorney Jeff Anderson. “It’s time for reckoning in New York.”

Jeff Anderson: 646.499.3364 (c), 646.759.2551 (o)
Mike Finnegan: 612.205.5531 (c), 646.759.2551 (o)
Trusha Goffe: 646.995.0616 (c), 646.759.2551 (o)

Letter to the editor: You shouldn't endanger kids by shielding criminals

St. Louis Post Dispatch

May 12, 2020

By Steven Spaner

Regarding “Chaminade clergy abuse case challenges First Amendment protection for church officials accused of negligence” (May 6): In the United States, you can believe anything you want, but you can’t do anything you want. Religious freedom protects all belief, not all actions.

That’s why a case before the Missouri Supreme Court involving Chaminade College Preparatory School is so important. If the alleged victim in that case prevails, our state would help prevent and punish child sex crimes and cover-ups without infringing on spiritual beliefs.

A man alleges that Brother John Woulfe molested him at the school and that administrators knew or suspected Woulfe had hurt other youngsters before. In any other private school setting, such a case would move forward. But Catholic officials say no court can touch these allegations without infringing on the church's First Amendment rights. That’s baloney.

Church figures can believe that child molesters should be forgiven. They can believe that predators can reform. But they can’t negligently put kids in harm’s way by ignoring or concealing known or suspected molesters and stop every judge or jury from even questioning their actions.

For the safety of our children, I hope our state’s highest court soon makes the church's limitations crystal clear.

Steven Spaner • Marthasville

Chaminade clergy abuse case challenges First Amendment protection for church officials accused of negligence

St. Louis Post Dispatch

May 6, 2020

By Nassim Benchaabane

The Missouri Supreme Court on Wednesday heard arguments in a sex abuse case that asks the court to break with a previous ruling protecting church officials from negligent supervision claims because courts deciding such claims could violate separation of church and state.

The lawsuit before the state’s top court claims now-deceased Marianist Brother John Woulfe sexually abused a Chaminade College Preparatory School student in 1971 while working as a guidance counselor at the school. The suit, first filed in 2015 in St. Louis County Circuit Court, alleges Marianist and Chaminade officials knew of the abuse and failed to stop it and that Woulfe previously had sexually assaulted at least one other boy at Chaminade.

Information in Woulfe’s file, the suit says, contained coded language indicating the Marianist Province knew Woulfe had abused minors before transferring him to Chaminade and also while he worked there, and that other students in the early 1970s reported Woulfe had sexually abused them.

7 Eyewitness News wins Murrow award for investigative reporting on Buffalo Diocese


May 12, 2020

7 Eyewitness News has been honored with a 2020 Regional Edward R. Murrow Award for its investigative series that looked into decades of sexual abuse cover-ups within the Diocese of Buffalo.

The award winning entry, "The Malone Recordings: The Tapes That Brought Down a Bishop," was the result of months of investigative reporting by I-Team Chief Investigator Charlie Specht. The multiple stories were shot and edited by photojournalists Jeff Wick, Rob Neves and Patrick Merritt.

A 22-month investigation of the diocese revealed ongoing cover-ups of sexual abuse that led to state and federal investigations, spurred changes in New York State law, gave voices to survivors of abuse, and ultimately resulted in the resignation of Bishop Richard Malone.

Cardinal Pell failed to act on paedophile behaviour, Royal Commission says

Church Times (independent lay Anglican newspaper)

May 11, 2020

By Muriel Porter

CARDINAL George Pell had known of clergy paedophile activity at least as early as 1982 and possibly earlier, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse said in findings released this week. The findings concerning Cardinal Pell, who was last month acquitted of charges of child sexual abuse by the Australian High Court (News, 9 April), had been redacted until Pell’s court processes had run their course.

The findings relate to Cardinal Pell’s conduct as priest in the Victorian diocese of Ballarat, where numerous cases of paedophile activity by Roman Catholic clergy occurred in the 1970s and ’80s. The Commission rejected Cardinal Pell’s evidence that he had not been told that the paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale was being moved from his parish because of child sexual-abuse complaints. The Commission said that it was “implausible” that the then Bishop of Ballarat did not tell Pell and others in a meeting the real reason for Ridsdale’s move. The failure of Pell and others to advise the Bishop in relation to Ridsdale was unacceptable, the Commission said.

Analysis: The US Church is going broke. Here's why, and what it could mean

Catholic News Agency

May 6, 2020

By JD Flynn

Well into the pandemic’s grip on American public life, parishes and dioceses are preparing a return to some new kind of normal.

Masses are resuming, albeit for small numbers in limited circumstances. Catholic schools and universities are making plans to reopen in the fall. Regrettably, even the ordinary fault lines and debates among Catholics, somewhat muted in recent months, are beginning to be revived.

But while some acute effects of the pandemic will still shape the Church in the months to come, the collapsing global economy will have a far more enduring and dramatic impact on parishes, chanceries, and other Catholic ministries.

In other words, barring some kind of miraculous economic recovery, the Church, at least in the U.S., ain’t seen nothin’ yet.

Opposition puts state’s justice system on trial

The Australian via CathNews(news outlet of the Australian Catholic Bishops' Conference)

May 13, 2020

By John Ferguson, The Australian

The operation of the Victorian justice system should face a full review in the wake of the botched proceedings against Cardinal George Pell, according to the state’s Opposition. Source: The Australian.

Coalition legal affairs spokesman Edward O’Donohue said he had been inundated with complaints from Cardinal Pell supporters, opponents, victim groups and people shocked at the “unedifying ordeal”.

He said while the unanimous High Court decision was “clearly an embarrassment” for the majority on the Victorian Court of Appeal, he was not reflecting on it or decisions by the other courts. But he was concerned about key aspects of Cardinal Pell’s case and whether the justice system in Victoria had done its job.

This included the decision by police to advertise for, and encourage, complainants to come forward.

Mr O’Donohue said the decision to proceed with the investigation and lay char

ROYAL COMMISSION: Hatchet job on Cardinal Pell breached basic principle of fairness

Newsweekly (blog)

May 13, 2020

by Peter Westmore

Listen here to Peter Westmore in conversation with Australian Family Association national president Terri M. Kelleher on the release of the previously redacted parts of Cardinal George Pell's answers to the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse.

Findings by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Cardinal George Pell covered up allegations of child abuse in the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s are totally unsupported by the evidence, and constitute an abuse of power by the Commission. They could more accurately be described as accusations.

Nevertheless, the ABC and other sections of the media that for years have been running a vendetta against Cardinal Pell and were clearly unhappy that his conviction for child sex abuse had been overturned in a unanimous judgement of the High Court of Australia, reported the sensational claims at great length.

In doing so, they further trashed the reputation of the first Australian church leader seriously to deal with the problem of child sexual abuse, and the first to set up a redress scheme for victims over 20 years before the Royal Commission recommended such a body.

Amid Coronavirus, Governor Cuomo Expands Window for NY Sex Abuse Lawsuits

Catholic News Agency

May 13, 2020

In addition to providing a legal window, The Child Victims Act also adjusted the statute of limitations for pursuing criminal charges and civil suits against sexual abusers or institutions.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo has issued an executive order to extend for five months the legal window for victims of childhood sex abuse to file civil claims, due to court delays caused by the coronavirus epidemic.

Victims of sex abuse may now file by Jan. 14, 2021 instead of August 13 of this year. Cuomo said May 8 the extension is needed “because people need access to the courts to make their claim, because justice too long delayed is justice denied,” the New York Daily News reports.

On March 22 non-essential court filings were frozen as part of New York's efforts to limit the spread of the coronavirus. The court system is preparing to allow new filings under the state's Child Victims Act.

As hospitals see more severe child abuse injuries during coronavirus, 'the worst is yet to come'

York Daily Record

May 13, 2020

By Candy Woodall

-- Pediatricians and child protection advocates say lawmakers need to take immediate action to stop the abuse and save lives.

-- Advocates say they are responding to more physical abuse cases than ever before, and they are severe

-- A child who was being sexually abuse once or twice a week is being abused more now

-- For the first time in its 25-year history, RAINN said half of the victims calling are minors

-- Anyone who suspects a child is being abused or neglected should contact ChildLine at 1-800-932-0313

Pennsylvania hospitals are treating more children with severe child abuse injuries, indicating the state's most vulnerable kids are not safe at home during the coronavirus outbreak.

Several advocates and pediatricians who specialize in child abuse say they are seeing an increase in the number of abused children who need to be hospitalized.

And in perhaps the most grim outlook, a Penn State pediatrician says "the worst is yet to come."

"We’re worried we’re at the beginning of an onslaught of cases," said Dr. Lori Frasier, chief of the child abuse pediatrics division at Penn State Children's Hospital.

Saginaw diocesan employee alleges retaliation after reporting abuse

Catholic News Agency via Catholic World Report

May 12, 2020

An employee of the Diocese of Saginaw, Michigan is suing the diocese, alleging that his fellow employees retaliated against him after he reported that a Saginaw priest sexually abused his son.

Gabriel Villarreal, who had worked as a maintenance man for the diocese for over two decades, in March filed a lawsuit against the diocese alleging that Father Robert DeLand had molested his son during February 2018, which Villarreal reported.

The lawsuit alleges that after Villarreal reported the abuse, diocesan employees began to harass him, referring to him as “the mole [spy,]” cutting his hours and benefits, and taking away his master key.

Whistleblower Sues Saginaw Diocese

Church Militant

May 12, 2020

by Christine Niles

An employee of the diocese of Saginaw, Michigan is suing after suffering retaliation for blowing the whistle on sex abuse.

Gabriel Villarreal has worked maintenance for the diocese for 26 years. In February 2018, his teenaged son informed him that Fr. Robert DeLand tried to sexually assault him at St. Agnes parish, where DeLand was pastor at the time.

DeLand is currently serving prison time for sexually abusing another young male victim. He was convicted in Sept. 2018 and is serving up to 15 years for his crimes.

Villarreal immediately reported DeLand's attempted sexual assault to the diocese, but suffered retaliation from his superiors, according to a lawsuit filed March 16 this year.

Employee sues Saginaw diocese, claiming retaliation for reporting sex-abuse complaint


May 12, 2020

By Cole Waterman

A man who says his job with the Catholic Diocese of Saginaw was impacted after he reported a sex-abuse complaint against a priest has filed a lawsuit against the diocese.

In the suit, Gabriel Villarreal alleges he was retaliated against by the diocese and its agents for reporting a relative had been assaulted by the Rev. Robert J. DeLand. A jury acquitted DeLand of charges related to the relative, but DeLand was convicted of sexual assaulting a different person in a separate case.

Villarreal is a maintenance worker for the diocese.

Detroit attorney Jonathan R. Marko in March filed the suit in Saginaw County Circuit Court on behalf of Villarreal. The suit is seeking at least $25,000, plus interest, attorney fees, and exemplary damages.

May 12, 2020

THOSE WE’VE LOST: Georgianna Glose, a Nun and Activist for the Poor, Dies at 73

The New York Times

May 12, 2020

By Andrea Elliott

Sister Glose, who died from complications of the novel coronavirus, ran a nonprofit in Brooklyn and was a whistle-blower in a sex abuse scandal.

This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

If you passed Georgianna Glose on the streets of Fort Greene, Brooklyn, you might have known her as that renegade nun, the one who left her convent to live among the poor and then blew a whistle on sexual abuse in the Catholic Church.

She was a sister with movie-star looks who roller-skated to work, having shed the nun’s habit in 1972 for the curler-coiffed hairdo then in vogue (a look she stubbornly kept).

But if you were homeless, you probably knew her as Dr. Glose, the nun with a doctorate who, until last month, ran a nonprofit on Myrtle Avenue. It was there, for 24 years, that the downtrodden found an anchor in a gentrifying neighborhood.

Mothers on welfare, fathers on parole, grandparents struggling to raise their children’s children — they all had a haven with Sister Glose, taking her computer literacy classes, joining her support groups, feasting on her Thanksgiving turkey.

“She was able to live in both worlds: the world of making a difference for individual families and the world of making policy changes,” said Steven Banks, the city’s commissioner of social services.

Sister Glose died on April 28 at Brooklyn Hospital Center from complications of the new coronavirus, said her sister, Kathrine Dawson. She was 73.

Authority neither impressed nor deterred her. “If someone was misbehaving, especially a man in a position of power, she would say calmly and completely accurately, ‘That man is a horse’s ass,’” said Teresa Theophano, a social worker who interned with Sister Glose at her nonprofit, Fort Greene Strategic Neighborhood Action Partnership.

Minors accounting for unprecedented amount of calls to National Sexual Assault Hotline


May 11, 2020

By Rachel Tiede

For the first time, minors are making up half of the victims receiving help from the National Sexual Assault Hotline.

According to RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network), this is directly related to COVID-19.

The Sexual Assault Center in Nashville said it expects Middle Tennessee to see a similar trend. Right now, SAC said kids make up 35 percent of the population it serves.

Lorraine McGuire, the vice president of development and marketing at SAC, said there’s been fewer reports of sexual abuse. But she said that’s bad news.

Cardinal George Pell and the Victims of Child Sexual Abuse in Victoria.


May 12, 2020

By Kenneth Good

In the long and still unfinished search for justice, two agencies have been outstanding. The Victorian Police performed dogged investigatory work, and the Royal Commission over five years compiled damning evidence. On 12 November 2012, Detective Chief Inspector Peter Fox called for the establishment of a Royal Commission. He was a 30-year veteran in Newcastle, and wrote an open letter to the NSW Premier: “I can testify from my own experience that the church covers-up, silencing victims, hinders police investigations, alerts offenders, destroys evidence and moves priests.” None of that stops at the Victorian border. “The whole system needs to be exposed; the clergy covering up these crimes must be brought to justice and the network protecting paedophile priests dismantled” (quoted in David Marr, The Prince). Backed by many Labour party backbenchers, and federal centrist politicians, PM Julia Gillard, the country’s first woman leader, moved to establish a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse. Gillard faced constant misogynist attack from conservative figures, but did not flinch (Tony Abbott was ready to be photographed beside a huge poster, ‘Ditch the Bitch’). It was perhaps her ‘most lasting legacy’ (Louise Milligan, Cardinal). “It will change the nation”, Gillard claimed, as she left office.

Adventist leaders agree on concrete steps to prevent treat sexual abuse

Adventist Review

May 12, 2020

By Marcos Paseggi

Church region leaders work on developing protocols for supporting victims, dealing with perpetrators

Time and again, experts in sexual abuse remind us that one of the worst fears of victims is being ignored when seeking help. It is something, experts say, that can lead to extremely harmful and long-term health consequences.

In the context of church life and faith-based organizations, that breach of trust can be outright devastating.

Against this backdrop, leaders of the Seventh-day Adventist Church recently provided evidence that church regions (or divisions) are taking concrete steps to make sure church organizations and institutions will work unapologetically to prevent sexual abuse. At the same time, regional leaders pledged to keep working to craft detailed protocols to prevent or respond to any complaint of sexual abuse in the church.

In depth: A bishop’s resignation and the state of Church reform

Catholic Herald

May 10, 2020

By Christopher Altieri

Conflicting claims have emerged over the way an investigation into a former auxiliary bishop in the US Archdiocese of Cincinnati was handled, casting further doubt over Church leaders’ commitment to the “responsibility, accountability, and transparency” supposed to be the watchwords of ecclesiastical efforts to combat abuse and coverup in the Francis era.

Pope Francis accepted Bishop Joseph Binzer’s resignation on Thursday, more than nine months after an investigation was opened into claims Binzer negligently handled allegations against a Cincinnati priest, of inappropriate behaviour with teenaged boys.

There are, in short, at least two different versions of how Church authorities handled the investigation. One version is from the Archbishop of Cincinnati, the other is from Rome. The two stories do not match.

The question the apparent discrepancy raises, is whether the Vatican used Pope Francis’s signature reform law, Vos estis lux mundi, designed to combat clerical abuse and especially abuse coverup, in order to investigate Bishop Binzer, on whose case the law seems tailor-made for use. For that reason, alone, question speaks directly to responsibility and accountability in hierarchical leadership culture.

Mother of boy who accused ex-Abilene youth pastor of sexual abuse reacts to his arrest


May 12, 2020

By Daniela Ibarra

Hours after former Abilene youth pastor Jeffrey Forrest was booked into the Taylor County Jail on Saturday, a mother who claims her son was assaulted by Forrest in the 90's made the decision to come to Abilene.

“I don’t feel like the bars are big enough and the walls are tight enough for him," said Patrice, who asked KTXS not to use her last name to protect her son.

Patrice said she felt compelled to make the four hour trip from Amarillo after learning the man she believes stole her son's innocence was caught after a four year long manhunt.

‘It does not have to be this way’: Father White says locked out of Martinsville, Rocky Mount parishes following suspension


May 11, 2020

Father Mark White — a local priest who has been openly critical of the sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church and was recently suspended — announced on his blog on Sunday that the locks were changed on two parishes and one residence to which he was assigned.

Back in February, Father White told reporters that he was ordered into silence by the Richmond Diocese Bishop Barry Knestout after he expressed criticism online of the church’s handling of sexual abuse cases.

However, by April, Father White announced the Richmond Diocese removed him as pastor from St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rocky Mount and St. Joseph Parish in Martinsville. Father White’s parishioners stepped up to show their support for the priest amid his ongoing legal battle with the Richmond Diocese.

Cultural barriers stop orthodox Jews reporting child abuse, inquiry hears


May 11, 2020

Child sexual abuse is going widely unreported among the UK’s Heredi Jewish community because victims need the permission of a rabbi before they can go to the police, an inquiry has heard.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) heard that the insular nature of strict orthodox Jews mean that children do not have “the language or the resources” to access help.

Yehudis Goldsobel, founder of charity Migdal Emunah – which provides sexual abuse advice and education to all Jews, told Haredi rabbis tend to learn about child safeguarding “on the job”.

Ms Goldsobel told the inquiry victims are shunned for speaking out, while perpetrators can usually return to the heart of their communities even after serving a prison sentence.

Former priest taken off sex abuse list

The Vindicator

May 12, 2020

By Bob Coupland and Guy Vogrin

A former Youngstown priest who had served at St. Edward Parish has been removed from a list of clergy members accused of sexual abuse.

The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown on Monday announced former Rev. William Smaltz was being removed from the list after further investigation and new information that allegations made earlier against him “are no longer deemed to be credible and substantiated.”

The former priest’s adult son, reached Monday night, said the alleged incident never happened, and the allegations have left his father distraught and under severe mental stress.

The diocese previously had compiled a list of names of clergy who were subject to credible allegations of sexual abuse against a minor. Smaltz’s name was first released as part of that list in October 2018.

May 11, 2020

Assessment of Vos Estis Lux Mundi on Its First Anniversary: Statement by BishopAccountability.org

May 9, 2020

By Anne Barrett Doyle, Co-Director, BishopAccountability.org

A year ago, Pope Francis enacted new procedures for investigating bishops accused of abuse or of covering up clergy sex crimes.

Last Thursday, on May 7, one year to the day since Vos Estis Lux Mundi was promulgated, we learned of what appears to be its first removal of a complicit bishop.

A two-line announcement in the Vatican's daily bulletin noted that the Pope had accepted the resignation of Bishop Joseph R. Binzer from the office of the auxiliary of the Cincinnati archdiocese. Lay Catholic media are reporting that Bishop Binzer was found guilty under Vos Estis, meaning that he was found guilty of intentionally interfering with or avoiding an investigation of an abusive cleric. We don't know this for sure, however; neither the Pope nor his proxies have made any comment.

Some might point to Binzer's resignation as a sign that Vos Estis is working. Seen differently, it reveals serious flaws in the Pope's plan.

Despite repeatedly concealing allegations against a priest now slated to be tried for child rape, Binzer remains not only an archdiocesan priest, but a bishop, with the prestige and financial benefits that status entails.

Is this what passes for 'accountability' under the Pope's new law? An opaque process, Vatican control, papal silence, and the softest of landings for an official who twice ignored allegations against a priest?

Retired New Orleans priest invokes rights against self-incrimination in molestation lawsuit


May 11, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

In a clear sign that he’s concerned about the potential of being criminally prosecuted, a retired New Orleans priest who is accused in a lawsuit of sexually molesting “countless” children invoked his constitutional rights against self-incrimination shortly before his deposition.

Lawrence Hecker, through his attorney, served notice March 13 — during the early days of New Orleans’ coronavirus pandemic — that he would essentially exercise his right to remain silent “from this point forward” in a lawsuit filed against him and the Archdiocese of New Orleans in April 2019, according to court records.

DeVos’s Rules Bolster Rights of Students Accused of Sexual Misconduct

The New York Times

May 6, 2020

By Erica L. Green

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos released final regulations for schools dealing with sexual misconduct, giving them the force of law for the first time and bolstering due-process rights.

WASHINGTON — Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday issued final regulations on sexual misconduct in education, delivering colleges and schools firm new rules on how they must deal with one of the biggest issues that have roiled their campuses for decades.

The rules fulfill one of the Trump administration’s major policy goals for Title IX, the 48-year-old federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in programs that receive federal funding, bolstering due-process protections for accused students while relieving schools of some legal liabilities. But Ms. DeVos extended the reach of the law in other ways, establishing dating violence as a sexual misconduct category that must be addressed and mandating supportive measures for alleged victims of assault.

Title IX had become a flash point in recent years after sexual assault cases rocked high-profile universities like Stanford and Duke, and serial sex abuse by staff at the University of Southern California, Michigan State and Ohio State demonstrated how schools had failed to properly investigate complaints.

But enforcement of the law has also grown contentious, especially since the Obama administration issued guidance documents in 2011 and 2014 that advised schools to ramp up investigations of misconduct and warned that their failure to do so could bring serious consequences. Critics said schools felt pressured to side with accusers without extending sufficient rights to the accused. And dozens of students have won court cases against their colleges for violating their rights under the Obama-era rules.

Catholic bishop suspends priest and issues trespass order over blog about clergy sex abuse

The Washington Post

May 10, 2020

By Michelle Boorstein

A months-long standoff between a Catholic bishop in Virginia and a priest who blogs frequent, strident criticism of the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse has boiled over, with the diocese suspending the priest from ministry and changing parish and residence locks where he was assigned, the priest said Saturday.

Abusive Deacon in New Jersey Released from Prison


May 7, 2020

A deacon from New Jersey who was convicted and jailed in 2017 for sexually abusing a minor was released on May 5th , perhaps because of COVID-19. Now that this dangerous man is back on the streets we call on the Catholic officials who educated, trained, and ordained him to take extra steps to warn the community about him.

Deacon Joseph Prioli abused at least one child from the time she was 10 to 17 years old. During that time, he was also working as teacher at the Christian Brothers Academy and was a deacon at his local church, positions that would give him easy access to vulnerable children. Clearly, the courts believed that Deacon Prioli would continue to be a risk to children even after getting out of jail because his 2017 sentence prohibits him from living in a household with minor children for the rest of his life.

Diocese of Youngstown removes clergy member from abuse list

Mahoning Matters

May 11, 2020

The Catholic Diocese of Youngstown announced today that William Smaltz’s name has been removed from the list of clergy in the diocese against whom credible, substantiated allegations of sexual abuse of a minor have been made.

After further inquiry and consideration of additional and new information, the allegations are not deemed credible and substantiated, the diocese said in a news release.

Supreme Court examines discrimination lawsuits against religious schools


May 11, 2020

By Ariane de Vogue

The Supreme Court on Monday will tackle a dispute concerning two teachers who sought to file employment discrimination claims against the religious schools that fired them.

Seven years ago, the Supreme Court recognized a "ministerial exception" for the first time, holding that under the First Amendment the government could not interfere with a church's hiring decisions. The justices held that the teacher in that case could be considered a "minister" under the law, triggering the exception.

Now the justices will address the scope of that decision and whether it bars teachers -- who say they have limited religious duties -- from bringing suit.

Like those last week, the oral arguments will be held remotely by telephone with audio broadcast live to the public.

New York extends time period to file civil lawsuits in sex abuse cases


May 11, 2020

By Christopher White

Governor Andrew Cuomo has extended the state’s lookback window for victims of abuse to file civil lawsuits until January 14, 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New York Child Victims Act (CVA) took effect last August and extends the statute of limitations for abuse victims which had originally allowed for a one-year window in which victims could bring suit. Further, the legislation extended the statute of limitations for civil claims, now allowing survivors to file a claim until they are 55 years old. In January, a similar window allowing for two years took effect in New Jersey.

Given that courts have been closed for nearly two months, the governor said on Friday that he would extend the special period into 2021.

'I'm not a used car salesman': Can the archbishop chart a new course?

Sydney Morning Herald

May 10, 2020

By Farrah Tomazin

After almost two years as Archbishop of Melbourne Peter Comensoli remains an elusive figure to many Catholics, and a study in contrasts to the wider public.

It’s August 2018, and Peter Comensoli is standing on a stage in a packed city restaurant, daring to do something none of his predecessors have ever done: subject himself to the scrutiny of the Melbourne Press Club.

After a wide-ranging speech, the newly installed Archbishop of Melbourne agrees to take questions.

That’s when he meets Eileen Piper, then 93, brandishing a large photograph of her dead daughter lying in her coffin.

Stephanie Piper was 32 when she killed herself in 1994, after informing authorities that she had been raped and assaulted as a child by Father Gerard Mulvale, a priest from the Catholic Pallottine order.

Clergy confidentiality at issue in Amish bishop's case

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

May 10, 2020

By Peter Smith

The criminal complaint against the Amish bishop is clear about how he learned of a church member’s alleged sexual assault on three young teenage girls:

“John G. Beiler confessed the sexual assault incidents to Bishop Levi S. Esh Sr.,” says the complaint, pending in Lancaster County and filed by Pequea police in April.

“Confessed.” Whether the case moves forward could hinge on that word.

In April, Pequea police charged Mr. Esh, 63, with felony and misdemeanor charges of failing to report suspected child abuse to authorities after Mr. Beiler allegedly confessed to the sexual assaults.

The case is believed to be the first in Lancaster County — hub of the nation’s largest population of Amish — in which one of their spiritual leaders is charged with violating a Pennsylvania law that includes clergy among those mandated to report suspected child abuse.

But Pennsylvania law allows a privilege, or exemption, for clergy who learn about suspected abuse in “confidential communications” while in the course of their “duties.”

John M. Shuster: September 18, 1951 ~ February 7, 2020 [Obituary]

Haven of Rest Gig Harbor

[Note: John Shuster dedicated much of his life to clergy sex abuse survivors. Following a brief stint in the clerical priesthood, he went on to serve as a vice president of CITI Ministries and a longtime leader of the Seattle chapter of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). In his work with SNAP, he developed a healing model for adults who needed spiritual guidance and counseling as a result of being abused as children. John passed away in February. He is greatly missed.]

John M. Shuster, Port Orchard, was born September 18, 1951 in Pittsburgh, PA to Andrew and Catherine (Miller) Shuster. He passed away from complications of a stroke on February 7, 2020 at St. Joseph Hospital in Tacoma.

John was ordained in 1979 by Bishop Joseph Francis to serve as a priest in the Roman Catholic missionary order, the Society of the Divine Word (SVD). He graduated from the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago in 1980 with a Masters of Divinity with specialization in cross-cultural ministry. During his four years as a celibate priest, he served in Mexico, and at parishes in East Los Angeles and South Central L.A. Due to his seeing the alarming disfunction that was present in the church, John left the clerical priesthood 1983, and began selling medical instrumentation. He had a successful career as a senior salesman of medical diagnostics at Abbott Laboratories, and retired in 2010.

What Is Vos Estis Lux Mundi? Where Are We in the Investigation?

The Tablet (newspaper for the Brooklyn diocese)

May 8, 2020

By Monsignor Steven Aguggia

The crisis of sexual abuse of minors coming to light in the past two decades has taught us many things. In so many ways, the Church has learned how to understand and deal with this horrible scourge which harms so many, both victims and the whole Church, the Body of Christ. Those who are accused of sexual abuse of minors, especially the clergy, are subject to clear and stringent norms to investigate and adjudicate their crimes. The Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People is a set of procedures that the United States Bishops established in 2002 to address the allegations of sexual abuse of minors by some clergy. The Charter was revised in 2005, 2011 and in 2018. Topics addressed in the Charter include healing from abuse and the prevention of future acts of abuse. The Dallas Charter and the accompanying Norms govern the investigation of the crimes of sexual abuse of minors by priests and deacons. Over time, it became clear that it was necessary to create and implement Norms to direct the investigation of allegations against Bishops, as well. The Norms, issued by our Holy Father, Pope Francis, in May of 2019, are entitled Vos Estis Lux Mundi (“You are the Light of the World”).

Clergy abuse survivor draws support for petition to defrock Pell

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

May 10, 2020

By Matt Neal

Key points:
- Clergy abuse survivor Paul Levey has started a petition calling for Cardinal George Pell to be defrocked
- The petition has attracted 32,000 signatures in 48 hours
- Mr Levey created the petition following the release of the Royal Commission's previously redacted findings, which Cardinal Pell says weren't supported by evidence

A petition started by a clergy abuse survivor has received more than 30,000 signatures supporting his call for Cardinal George Pell to be defrocked.

Paul Levey, who was abused by convicted paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale, began the Change.org petition on Friday and said he was surprised by the response.

"The first night I went to bed and it was at 600 and I thought that was fantastic. Now, I think it's around 32,000 signatures," Mr Levey said.

Mr Levey was 13 when he was sent to live with Ridsdale in the presbytery in Mortlake, in south-west Victoria, where he was abused daily for six months.

OPINION: Cardinal Pell: a legacy of shame and failure

Sydney Morning Herald

May 8, 2020

By Barney Zwartz

It may be possible – remotely – as Cardinal George Pell claims, that he did not know about the crimes of paedophile Gerald Ridsdale until much later than the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse thinks he did. But if so, it must have required the most herculean effort, the most Nelsonian blind eye, to avoid something so well known that priests in Ballarat and Melbourne were gossiping about it.

But Nelson turning his blind eye to the telescope at the Battle of Copenhagen in 1801 was a matter of national heroism. Pell’s blind eye served only himself, and at a huge cost to victims, their families, and the professionals who tried to intervene.

For the young and ambitious Pell, a priest in Ballarat clearly destined for high office, knew one thing: whistle-blowers don’t go on to glorious careers in the institutions they hold to account. Embarrass the church, and you can forget about a cardinal’s red hat and a vital Vatican role.

Cardinal Pell 'knew of' clergy abuse, says Australian royal commission


May 7, 2020

Cardinal George Pell knew of child sexual abuse by priests in Australia as early as the 1970s but failed to take action, a landmark inquiry found.

The findings on Cardinal Pell - an ex-Vatican treasurer - come from Australia's royal commission into child sexual abuse, which ended in 2017.

Details were only revealed on Thursday. A court had previously redacted the report because the cleric was facing child abuse charges at the time.

The cardinal has denied the findings.

‘Why didn’t he help those little boys?’: how George Pell failed the children of Ballarat

The Guardian

May 8, 2020

By Melissa Davey

The cardinal maintains he didn’t know about the Victorian town’s notorious paedophile priests, a claim the royal commission found ‘implausible’

“Why isn’t all of Australia talking about what happened here in Ballarat?”

That’s the question Clare Linane remembers asking her husband, Peter Blenkiron, 12 years ago as they were sitting in the kitchen talking about his abuse. Linane’s husband, brother and cousin had all been abused when they were children between 1973 and 1974 by Christian Brother and now convicted paedophile Edward “Ted” Dowlan. They knew they were among thousands of people living in and around Ballarat – Victoria’s largest inland city – who had been affected by child sexual abuse perpetrated by clergy.

On Thursday, Australia’s five-year inquiry into child sexual abuse in Australian institutions published its findings about Ballarat in full, more than two years after its inquiry was complete. Previously, a heavily redacted version of the report had been published, missing details about Cardinal George Pell and what he knew about abuse in the town located about 100km north-west of Melbourne. At the time Pell was working in the diocese, Ballarat was home to some of the Catholic church’s, and Australia’s, most notorious paedophile priests. Survivor groups say at least 50 suicides in the town over the past few decades are the result of clergy abuse.

Darrin Patrick, who founded The Journey megachurch, dies at 49


May 9, 2020

Darrin Patrick, who co-founded The Journey megachurch in St. Louis, died Thursday (May 7, 2020) while target shooting with a friend, according to a news release from South Carolina-based Seacoast Church, where Mr. Patrick was a teaching pastor. He was 49 and lived in Webster Groves.

In 2002, Mr. Patrick and his wife, Amie, started The Journey in the Southwest Garden neighborhood with 30 members. The church now has five locations in the St. Louis area. By 2016, it was drawing 4,000 worshipers to its weekend services, and Mr. Patrick also was serving as the chaplain for the St. Louis Cardinals.

In the spring of that year, Mr. Patrick was fired from the church for what its leaders viewed as pastoral misconduct.

[Opinion] The Pell legacy: lessons for cops, courts and all those who serve God and justice


May 11, 2020

By David Hardaker

Where does it leave the justice system if the highest court in the land says a jury isn't capable of working out what it should believe?

There was a time in the not-so-distant past when a priest was the first person you would believe. Now? Not so much.

The royal commission into, among others, the Catholic Church and Cardinal George Pell, has killed that off. Then-prime minister Julia Gillard’s decision to bring it on in 2012 triggered an eight-year unravelling which reached its endpoint with the judges of the High Court and the royal commission now delivering their final verdicts.

In the space of four weeks, we’ve learnt there was a “significant possibility” that Pell was innocent of charges that he committed child sex abuse, but that he was most guilty of allowing predator priests to keep abusing children under the church’s care.

Why George Pell likely won't face charges over royal commission findings

Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC)

May 10, 2020

By Jessica Longbottom

Key points:
-- Attempts to prosecute other senior Catholics for knowing about clergy abuse have failed
-- Mandatory reporting laws didn't come into effect in Victoria until 2014
-- Victoria Police says it will examine the royal commission's findings
-- It found Cardinal Pell was aware of general allegations that children were being abused in the Ballarat diocese from 1973.

After a two-year wait, the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses into Child Sexual Abuse has released its findings on what Cardinal George Pell knew about clergy abuse.

It also found that he was told that paedophile priest Gerard Ridsdale was being moved because of his alleged sexual abuse of children at a meeting in 1982.

The royal commission found that later on, as he rose through the ranks in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Cardinal Pell should have advocated for the removal of paedophile priest Peter Searson when he received a list of allegations of bizarre behaviour by him in 1989.

The royal commission found that later on, as he rose through the ranks in the Archdiocese of Melbourne, Cardinal Pell should have advocated for the removal of paedophile priest Peter Searson when he received a list of allegations of bizarre behaviour by him in 1989.

May 10, 2020

Catholic bishop suspends priest and issues a trespass order over blog about clergy sex abuse

Washington Post

May 9, 2020

By Michelle Boorstein

A months-long standoff between a Catholic bishop in Virginia and a priest who blogs frequent, strident criticism of the church’s handling of clergy sexual abuse has boiled over, with the bishop this week suspending the priest from ministry and issuing a trespass order demanding he leave the parish residence by Saturday.

The Rev. Mark White, who has been assigned to two southwest Virginia parishes, is refusing to leave, saying Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout is the one violating canon law by not giving more details about what Knestout considers White’s wrongdoing and by not waiting for an appeal to the Vatican to play out.

White on Friday was consulting with his lawyer to figure out his options if the diocese changes locks at the parish residences at St. Joseph in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount, two half-English, half-Spanish parishes of about 400 families each. White was pastor to the two parishes from 2011 until April 13, when Knestout ordered him transferred to prison ministry in the midst of their conflict. White told The Post he is waiting for the appeal and is not leaving.

The dispute between the two men has been watched by the hundreds and sometimes thousands who read White’s blog, which is a mix of homilies and spiritual musings and frequent lambasting of church officials from Knestout to Pope Francis to disgraced ex-cardinal Theodore McCarrick, who ordained White in May 2003.

While a priest being removed by a bishop isn’t unusual, the White-Knestout standoff taps into remaining deep mistrust and anger over the McCarrick scandal and how few bishops and cardinals have been held accountable for his long rise — particularly those who have worked along the New York-New Jersey-Washington, D.C. corridor where rumors of McCarrick’s sexual misbehavior percolated for decades.

The case also reflects the challenge posed to the world’s largest church — one accustomed to tight, top-down control — by the power of social media. The Vatican is increasingly calling social media an essential part of ministry and evangelization, but metrics of what is effective vs. what is divisive are growing more subjective. White had paused his blog last fall at Knestout’s order but restarted it in March because of the coronavirus shutdown, saying online ministering is crucial while parishes and Mass are shut off.

“I can’t recall a case when a pastor was removed because he was blogging,” said Kurt Martens, a canon law expert at Catholic University. “Blogging is a new way of ministry, so how do you stop a priest?”

Editorial: Father Mark White's inexplicable ouster

Martinsville Bulletin

May 9, 2020

The relationships within the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church are strict and complicated. They are founded in a structure and formality that eludes those who didn’t grow up under the church and its papal sovereignty, and their complexities can be daunting in trying to understand decisions, practices and reactions.

But the one simple aspect of that structure that is without question is the church’s foundation in the principles of Jesus Christ, its purchase in the deep meaning and subtexts of Scripture.

If is for the latter and not the former that the dispute between Father Mark White and his boss the Rev. Barry Knestout, the bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, appears not only perplexing but just so ridiculously unnecessary.

You likely have read the many words published about the conflict that has led Bishop Knestout to remove Father White in all facets except title as the pastor of St. Joseph’s in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi in Rocky Mount.

This began because Father White, disturbed by the way the church handled the sexual abuse charges against Cardinal McCarrick, the priest who ordained him, deigned to write in his blog about those feelings. Father White didn’t measure the tone in his comments, frankly and reasonably questioning the transparency and appropriateness of decision-making of the church all the way to the Vatican in Rome. He is not alone among Catholics in questioning this festering blemish on the church’s image.

Bishop Knestout told Father White to discontinue his blog or else. Father White did. Then the pandemic hit, and Mass was canceled, and Father White resumed the blog as a means to communicate with his flock. He asked for permission to do so and said he received silence. But this dispute has not been carried out in silence.

A New Orleans priest was accused of molestation; he still collected $2,500 monthly in retirement

Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

May 6, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Accused of sexually molesting a boy he taught before he become a priest, Paul Calamari walked into New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ office on Feb. 5, 2004, to discuss what might be ahead.

The Catholic church had only recently been rocked by the sexual-abuse scandal in Boston. Bishops across the U.S. were dealing with allegations in their dioceses, and New Orleans was no different. Calamari ultimately chose to retire, and he began receiving a monthly pension of $1,566 from the archdiocese — which later rose to more than $2,500 a month, according to court records.

The archdiocese slashed the amount by several hundred dollars during the spring of 2019, citing “significant” budget issues.

But after the archdiocese petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, U.S. District Judge Meredith Grabill ordered the organization to stop paying priests who — like Calamari — are credibly accused child molesters.

Leader of New Orleans archdiocese ministry's board resigns after filing clergy sex abuse lawsuit

Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

May 8, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Board said plaintiff agreeably resigned to avoid appearance of conflict of interest, but plaintiff says he felt forced out

The leader of the board of directors for one of the Archdiocese of New Orleans’ various ministries resigned his post recently after claiming in a lawsuit against the church that he was molested by one of its priests decades ago.

The plaintiff — whom The Times-Picayune | New Orleans Advocate is not identifying because he’s a victim of sex abuse — spoke out about his case after an April 30 letter from the ministry to his fellow board members said he had agreed to resign to avoid “at least the appearance of a conflict of interest.”

But the plaintiff said he had hoped to remain on the board and resigned under duress. He didn't believe there was a conflict because the board is incorporated separately from the archdiocese’s administrative offices, which filed for federal bankruptcy protections on May 1, citing the financial fallout from clerical abuse lawsuits and the coronavirus pandemic.


The plaintiff’s case dates back to when he entered the fifth grade at St. Ann School in Metairie in 1980, according to records filed in Orleans Parish Civil District Court. One day that academic year, the plaintiff was behind the church rectory when he encountered James Collery, a Spiritan order member who was originally from Ireland and had just been transferred there.

Collery was pretending to tuck in the boy’s T-shirt when he used his hand to fondle the plaintiff’s genitals and penetrate him, the lawsuit alleged. The plaintiff, who served as an altar boy, said Collery, who died in 1987, molested him in similar fashion after catching the boy alone in the sacristy a couple of other times.

Despite the abuse, the plaintiff clung to his Catholic faith as he grew up and began serving on numerous charitable boards and committees associated with the archdiocese. He said he had been in those roles for a number of years when, in 2013, he decided to privately report Collery’s assaults to the archdiocese — specifically, to Archbishop Gregory Aymond, for whom the plaintiff had once been an altar boy.

Buffalo Diocese quietly removed and paid priest accused of sexual misconduct


May 6, 2020

By Charlie Specht

Memo reveals Fr. Paul Salemi case

Paul Salemi graduated from Christ the King Seminary and became a priest in the Diocese of Buffalo in 2000.

But after serving at churches in Hamburg and Lancaster, and at St. Gregory the Great in Amherst, former Bishop Richard Malone quietly put Salemi on administrative leave in 2012.

Salemi never returned from that leave of absence and moved to the South. But he stayed on the diocesan payroll until last week, when the diocese announced it was removing from its payroll 23 priests with substantiated sexual abuse allegations.

Many parishioners in the last year have reached out to the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team wondering what happened to Fr. Salemi. They say they were told he had an anger problem, but internal documents show Salemi was also accused of sexual misconduct against a young man he met through his duties as a priest.

The most comprehensive account was written by Lawrence Vilardo, who is now a federal judge in Buffalo. In 2012, he was law partners with Terry Connors, longtime lawyer for the diocese, and wrote a memo to Connors that was obtained by the I-Team.

Buffalo Diocese facing backlash for seeking federal funds, relief in CVA cases


May 6, 2020

By Cayla Harris

Albany - Advocates for survivors of sexual abuse are denouncing the Buffalo Diocese this week after the institution, temporarily headed by Albany Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger, moved forward with two legal filings that activists say diminish victims' experiences and could allow the diocese to dodge consequences for decades of alleged abuse and cover-up.

The most recent filing on Tuesday was a lawsuit against the federal Small Business Administration for denying the diocese's application for relief under the CARES Act because of its ongoing bankruptcy proceedings. It followed a separate legal action on Saturday in bankruptcy court, in which the diocese argued that all cases filed against the institution under the state's Child Victims Act, including those that also name local parishes and schools, should be permanently suspended.

Last summer, the act opened a one-year "look-back" window allowing survivors of sexual abuse to pursue previously time-barred cases against their alleged offenders. The Buffalo Diocese, the most-named defendant in claims filed under the act, is facing more than 250 actions.

New York extends civil ‘look back’ for child sexual assault victims

Daily News

May 8, 2020

By Denis Slattery

Albany - New Yorkers who were sexually assaulted as children will have a little more time to take legal action against their alleged abusers.

Gov. Cuomo on Friday extended a “look back window” created as part of the Child Victims Act last year that allows survivors abused as kids, to file civil suits beyond the normal statute of limitations.

The one-year window, which was slated to expire in August, will be extended until Jan. 14 in response to the coronavirus crisis’ impact on the state court system, the governor said during a briefing Friday at the Murray Student Center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

“Because of the reduction in court services we want to extend that window and we’ll extend it for an additional five months,” Cuomo said. “Because people need access to the courts to make their claim, because justice too long delayed is justice denied.”

Attorney Praises Extension of CVA Look-Back Window Amid Pandemic

Spectrum News

May 8, 2020

By Fadia Patterson

Governor Cuomo is giving survivors an additional five months to file a civil claim against abusers under the Child Victims Act.

Attorney Steve Boyd, who is representing many survivors of child sexual abuse, says that when the Child Victims Act passed, New York had the shortest look-back window of a year. Because the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Cuomo has ordered an extension of the deadline for survivors to pursue legal action from August 13 to January 14.

"When the crisis hit and the courts closed down the filing system, people were not allowed to file," said Boyd. "People who could've filed lawsuits between then, they filed lawsuits. I think it’s in a sense of general fairness. It's a good thing that the governor has extended the time.”

While waiting on the reopening of the court filing system, Boyd says he's still gathering information from those who do want to file a lawsuit. For those looking to sue the Buffalo Roman Catholic Diocese, Boyd lays out how this extension and the diocese's bankruptcy proceedings will affect cases against clergy.

"There are several different tracks," adds Boyd. "The Diocese of Rochester filed bankruptcy late last summer. In those cases the proof of claims form, the deadline for those is still August 13, 2020. Buffalo Diocese has filed bankruptcy, they have not yet set a bar date or a deadline to put the claims in. And then there are cases that don't involve the diocese of Rochester or Buffalo. For those cases, people will have until January 14 to file a claim."

Cardinal Pell does not deserve scapegoat status

CatholicCulture.org - Trinity Publications

May 7, 2020

By Phil Lawler

An Australian royal commission has found that Cardinal George Pell was aware of sexual abuse in the 1970s “but failed to take action.” Cardinal Pell says that he is “surprised” by that finding, and observes quite accurately that the evidence against him is very thin.

But even if the commission’s finding is accurate—and keep in mind that it is in dispute—that finding does not justify making Cardinal Pell the scapegoat for the sex-abuse scandal in Australia. What he did (if he did it) is what most bishops did—but at the most relevant times, he wasn’t a bishop!

The abuse in question occurred in the 1970s. Cardinal Pell was not appointed as a bishop until 1987. Even then he was an auxiliary in Melbourne, acting as an assistant to Archbishop Thomas Little, rather than making policy decisions for his own diocese. He became Archbishop of Melbourne in 1996. The BBC report on the royal commission’s finding says that he “failed to take action” against abusers. But as a parish priest he did not have authority to take action. The worst that could be said is that he did not urge the archbishop to take action.

It is alleged that Pell was aware of abuse by the notorious ex-priest Gerald Ridsdale in the 1970s and early 1980s. But it is an established fact that the late Bishop Ronald Mulkearns of Ballarat moved Ridsdale from one parish to another to cover the abusive priest’s trail. Here the worst that can be said (and again, Pell disputes it) is that Pell, a parish priest, was aware that his superior, a bishop, had covered up abuse. Literally hundreds of Catholic priests could be indicted on the same charge.

May 9, 2020

New York courts will allow Child Victims Act filings 'in the next few weeks'


May 7, 2020

By Cayla Harris

New claims have been frozen during pandemic

The state court system will make an exception to allow new filings under the Child Victims Act "in the next few weeks," even as other non-essential filings remain frozen during the pandemic, a spokesman for the state Office of Court Administration said Thursday.

"We will not deny those litigants the ability to file," the spokesman, Lucian Chalfen, said in an email.

The exception, first reported by the New York Law Journal, comes amid growing calls from survivors and advocates to extend the act's one-year "look-back" period that is set to expire in August. The window has resulted in more than 1,700 lawsuits filed by individuals who had previously been time-barred from lodging claims against their alleged sexual abusers. But court filings were paused in March as the coronavirus pandemic effectively shut down the state court system.

It is unclear whether alleged survivors will be able to make up for lost filing time during the pandemic; Chalfen said any extension of the window would require executive or legislative action. Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo issued an executive order in March suspending statutes of limitations during the state of emergency, but there is uncertainty among lawyers and legal experts as to whether that moratorium also applies to the Child Victims Act's one-year window.

Cuomo extends Child Victims Act window until January

North Country Public Radio

May 9, 2020

By Karen DeWitt

Gov. Andrew Cuomo is extending a one-year look-back window for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits for an additional five months, to mid-January.

The governor announced the change at his daily coronavirus briefing, where he also said his health officials are looking into a new related illness in children that killed a 5-year-old boy on Thursday.

The Child Victims Act opened a one-year window for New Yorkers who were sexually abused as children that lifts the statute of limitations to file civil suits against their alleged abusers. It was set to expire in mid-August, but because the courts have been virtually closed since March, many people have been unable to proceed with their legal actions.

Cuomo said victims will now have until Jan. 14 to sue.

“People need access to the courts to make their claim,” Cuomo said.

Sponsors of the original measure had sought to extend the look-back window for another full year.

Priests abuse survivor network asking where priest accused of misconduct is after removal

News 4 WOAI

May 8, 2020

Helotes, Texas - The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) is asking why a priest at a local church has not come forward after being accused of sending sexually inappropriate texts.

According to a letter from San Antonio Archbishop Gustavo Garcia Siller, Monsignor Carlos Davalos was removed as pastor of Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Helotes.

The letter went out April 30, but others wonder where he is now.

"The church did the right thing by removing him," Patti Koo, SNAP San Antonio Volunteer Chapter Leader, said. "However, they could go a step further and let us know where he's at. Is he somewhere in San Antonio near a school, near public places where children might be? So, that's our concern."

Archbishop Garcia Siller says there have been no other allegations of misconduct against Davalos.

Catholic Church's legal deluge compounded by damning Pell findings

The Age

May 8, 2020

By Chip Le Grand and Farrah Tomazin

The Catholic Church is facing hundreds of civil claims by victims of clerical sex abuse, bolstered by the royal commission's findings about Cardinal George Pell's role in the "catastrophic failure of leadership" in the Ballarat diocese.

The royal commission's finding that Cardinal Pell knew nearly 40 years ago of the church's practice of shifting notorious paedophile Gerald Ridsdale to different parishes to avoid scandal is likely to bolster the cases of abuse survivors who must demonstrate a breach of duty of care to successfully sue the church.

A separate finding that Cardinal Pell in 1974 dismissed a plea by a St Patrick's College student to stop Christian Brother Edward Dowlan abusing other boys at the school will strengthen the compensation claims of people subsequently molested by the convicted child sex offender, their lawyers say.

One victim expressed his disappointment that Cardinal Pell and other church leaders were not going to take responsibility for the harm that "could [and] should have been stopped".

A deluge of civil claims against the church and its entities has prompted the Supreme Court to establish a specialised Institutional Liability List to administer lawsuits relating to child sex abuse.

The new list includes claims for damages arising from the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as well as the Victorian Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Other Organisations. At the end of April, there were 347 cases on the list.

DeVos’s New, Controversial Title IX Regulations Offer Limited Definition of Sexual Misconduct, Will Require Witness Cross-Examination at Harvard

Harvard Crimson

May 8, 2020

By Isabel L. Isselbacher

After more than a year of reviewing comments on a draft of the new guidelines, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos released the highly-anticipated Title IX rule Wednesday. The new rule offers a narrow definition of sexual misconduct and imposes new guidelines for schools’ Title IX procedures.

Title IX, a law that prohibits discrimination on the basis of sex in educational institutions that receive federal funding, underpins universities’ sexual harassment prevention and adjudication policies across the country.

The new regulations — which were first released as a draft in November 2018 — shift the definition of sexual misconduct to “unwelcome conduct that is so severe, pervasive, and objectively offensive.” Previous Obama-era guidance defined sexual harassment as “unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature” that includes “requests for sexual favors, and other verbal, nonverbal, or physical conduct of a sexual nature.”

The new rule encompasses “all of a school’s education programs or activities,” both on and off campus. However, for a complaint to be addressed under the new policy, the alleged sexual misconduct must have taken place on-campus or, if off-campus, in the context of a school-sponsored activity, building, or event in which the institution has “substantial control.”

May 8, 2020

NY extends window on Child Victims Act due to coronavirus


May 8, 2020

[In the video on this webpage of Cuomo's daily COVID-19 presentation, the announcement of the window extension comes at 13:20.]

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says New York is extending the window to file claims under the Child Victims Act as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

During his daily briefing Friday at Murray Student Center at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, Cuomo said the window to file claims has been extended to January 14.

The CVA gave survivors of child sexual abuse a one-year window to file civil claims through August. Because courts have been closed amid the pandemic, Cuomo said the state will extend that window.

Cardinal George Pell Knew of Clergy Sex Abuse, Australian Report Finds

New York Times

May 7, 2020

By Livia Albeck-Ripka

The cardinal, whose sexual abuse conviction was overturned last month, knew decades ago that priests had victimized children but failed to take action, a government inquiry concluded.

Melbourne, Australia - Cardinal George Pell, the Australian prelate whose sexual abuse conviction was overturned last month, knew decades ago that other Roman Catholic priests had sexually abused children but failed to take action, an Australian government inquiry found.

That conclusion was reached in 2017 by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which issued a lengthy report on the victimization of children within the Catholic Church and other institutions in Australia. But its findings about Cardinal Pell were redacted from the original report to avoid prejudicing potential jurors in the cardinal’s pending trials on sexual abuse charges.

Cardinal Pell, who had been the Vatican’s chief financial officer and an adviser to Pope Francis, was found guilty in 2018 of sexually abusing two 13-year-old boys in 1996, making him the highest-ranking Catholic leader to be convicted of a crime in the church’s sexual abuse crisis. But Australia’s highest court overturned the conviction last month, saying that there was “a significant possibility” that he was not guilty.

That decision cleared the way for the release of the Royal Commission’s findings about Cardinal Pell from its 2017 report, which were made public on Thursday.

The commission found that the cardinal had been “conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy” as long ago as the 1970s, when he was a priest in the diocese of Ballarat, and that he had failed to report priests who were suspected of abuse.

Priest who had controversial blog has been suspended

Associated Press

May 6, 2020

A Catholic priest in Virginia has been suspended of all priestly duties from the two parishes he leads in southwestern Virginia.

The suspension is the latest development in the ongoing dispute between Father Mark White and the Bishop of Richmond. White had maintained a well-known blog that was critical of the church’s handling of the sexual abuse scandal.

The Martinsville Bulletin reports that Bishop Barry Knestout announced the suspension on Wednesday. It means that White is prohibited from practicing ministry, including the public celebration of the sacraments.

A New Orleans priest was accused of molestation; he still collected $2,500 monthly in retirement

Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

May 6, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Accused of sexually molesting a boy he taught before he become a priest, Paul Calamari walked into New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ office on Feb. 5, 2004, to discuss what might be ahead.

The Catholic church had only recently been rocked by the sexual-abuse scandal in Boston. Bishops across the U.S. were dealing with allegations in their dioceses, and New Orleans was no different. Calamari ultimately chose to retire, and he began receiving a monthly pension of $1,566 from the archdiocese — which later rose to more than $2,500 a month, according to court records.

The archdiocese slashed the amount by several hundred dollars during the spring of 2019, citing “significant” budget issues.

But after the archdiocese petitioned for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last week, U.S. District Judge Meredith Grabill ordered the organization to stop paying priests who — like Calamari — are credibly accused child molesters.

US bishop resigns; didn’t speak up on priest accused of rape

Associated Press

May 7, 2020

A Roman Catholic bishop in Cincinnati has resigned after not going to his superiors with concerns about a priest who now is set to be tried on charges that he raped a boy.

Pope Francis recently accepted the resignation of Auxiliary Bishop Joseph R. Binzer, the Vatican announced Thursday. The announcement gave no details.

But the Archdiocese of Cincinnati noted that Binzer had already been removed as director of priest personnel “after he failed to bring past concerns about Father Geoffrey Drew’s conduct to the attention of Archbishop Dennis Schnurr” and the priests’ personnel board.

Drew is accused of raping the boy in the 1980s and 1990s, years before he was ordained as a priest and while he was music director at a suburban Cincinnati parish. Drew has pleaded not guilty to nine counts of rape. His trial was scheduled for October.

“I am deeply sorry for my role in addressing the concerns raised about Father Drew, which has had a negative impact on the trust and faith of the people of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati,” the archdiocese quoted Binzer as saying. “In April, having studied this matter since last summer, the Holy See informed me that it agreed with this assessment.”

Binzer, a Cincinnati native, was ordained as a priest on June 4, 1994, and later served as chancellor of the archdiocese for eight years before being ordained a bishop. He was installed as auxiliary bishop in 2011. Binzer remains a priest in the archdiocese.

May 7, 2020

Previously redacted reports

Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse

May 7, 2020

[The reports are lengthy. To help locate the unredacted portions, use Control-F to search for Pell.]

The Royal Commission’s Terms of Reference required that its work did not prejudice current or future criminal or civil proceedings. For this reason, the Commissioners delivered an un-redacted and a redacted version of certain reports and recommended that the un-redacted version should be tabled and published at the conclusion of the relevant criminal proceedings. The below un-redacted versions were tabled on 7 May 2020:

Un-redacted Report of Case Study No. 28: Catholic Church authorities in Ballarat (PDF)

Un-redacted Report of Case Study No. 35: Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne (PDF)

Un-redacted Volume 16, Religious institutions Book 2 (PDF)

Cardinal Pell rejects redacted statements

Catholic Weekly - Archdiocese of Sydney

May 7, 2020

By Marilyn Rodrigues

Royal Commission views “not supported” by evidence

Cardinal George Pell has rejected statements of the Royal Commission into Institutional Child Sexual Abuse that he must have known about notorious paedophile priest Gerard Risdale following the release of redacted reports on 7 May.

In a statement a spokesperson for the cardinal said he was surprised by some of the views of the Royal Commission about his actions.

“These views are not supported by evidence,” the spokesperson said. “He is especially surprised by the statements in the report about the earlier transfers of Gerald Ridsdale discussed by the Ballarat Diocesan Consultors in 1977 and 82.

Pell was not deceived about abuse: inquiry

The Islander

May 7, 2020

By Megan Neil
Cardinal George Pell knew pedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale was moved between parishes because of sex abuse allegations and failed to push for another's removal, a royal commission concluded.

The child abuse royal commission findings surprised Australia's most senior Catholic cleric, who argues they are not supported by the evidence.

The commissioners rejected Cardinal Pell's claim he was deceived in "a world of crimes and cover-ups" about Ridsdale, his 1973 Ballarat housemate who was later revealed to be Australia's worst pedophile priest, and the unstable and disturbed Melbourne priest Peter Searson.

The commission found Cardinal Pell was aware of child sexual abuse by clergy in the early 1970s, after the former Vatican treasurer conceded it was "on his radar".

"We are also satisfied that by 1973 Cardinal Pell was not only conscious of child sexual abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it," the commissioners wrote in their unredacted report released on Thursday.

Inquiry: Pell knew of abuse by Australian pedophile priest

Associated Press

May 7, 2020

By Rod McGuirk

Australian Cardinal George Pell knew that a notorious pedophile priest had been sexually abusing children years before his arrest and had been aware of the Catholic Church’s clergy abuse problem since the early 1970s, a government inquiry concluded.

A report from the inquiry on child sexual abuse had been released in 2017, but findings concerning Pell — who was formerly Pope Francis’ finance minister and at one time the third-highest ranking cleric in the Vatican — had been redacted until Thursday to avoid prejudicing juries in any future prosecutions.

The government decided to release the full report after the High Court last month overturned convictions against Pell on charges he molested two choirboys in a Melbourne cathedral in the late 1990s when he was an archbishop. The 78-year-old cleric spent 13 months in prison before being released last month.

The findings undermine Pell’s criticisms of what he described as the church’s inadequate response to the global abuse crisis and concealing its extent.

Pell, who now lives in a Sydney seminary, said in a statement that he was “surprised by some of the views” of the inquiry about his actions.

“These views are not supported by evidence,” Pell said.

The inquiry rejected Pell’s evidence given by video link from Rome in 2016 that he was deceived and lied to by church officials about Australia’s worst pedophile priest, Gerald Ridsdale, and disturbed Melbourne parish priest Peter Searson.

George Pell knew about child sex abuse allegations for decades, Royal Commission documents reveal


May 7, 2020

By Hilary Whiteman

Brisbane, Australia - Nearly three years after the release of a damning national report into child sexual abuse, the Australian government has published dozens of previously redacted pages of text relating to Cardinal George Pell.

Three unredacted reports published Thursday reveal for the first time the commission's findings into what Pell knew about allegations of child sex abuse committed by priests decades ago in the Australian state of Victoria.

The commission found that, as early as 1973, the former Vatican Treasurer "was not only conscious of child sex abuse by clergy but that he also had considered measures of avoiding situations which might provoke gossip about it."

The commission's findings had been redacted to avoid prejudicing a trial involving Pell on five charges of child sexual assault allegedly committed in the mid-1990s. Pell was convicted in December 2018, but the decision was overturned by Australia's High Court in a unanimous ruling by the full bench of seven judges in April.

The redacted pages appeared in the final report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Assault, which was published in December 2017. Black lines obscured multiple pages of Case Studies 16, 28 and 35, which examined allegations of abuse in the Diocese of Ballarat, the Archdiocese of Melbourne, and the church's mechanism to address assault claims.

Large portions of the report relate to one of Australia's most notorious pedophiles, Gerald Ridsdale, who is serving a 34-year prison sentence for a string of child sex attacks spanning decades. In 2017, the commission found former Bishop Ronald Mulkearns knew about Ridsdale's offending from 1975 and failed to stop it. Instead, he moved him between parishes, which gave the priest access to more victims, the commission found.

For a time, Pell served under Bishop Mulkearns as one of his consultors, a small group of priests tasked with advising the bishop on the movement of parish priests and other matters.

Pell has consistently denied ever being involved in any decision to move Ridsdale. In a statement to the commission in May 2015, Pell said, "I would never have condoned or participated in a decision to transfer Ridsdale in the knowledge that he had abused children, and I did not do so."

The unredacted report released Thursday said the commission was "satisfied" that in 1973 Pell had "turned his mind to the prudence of Ridsdale taking boys on overnight camps." It said the most likely reason for this was the possibility that "if priests were one-on-one with a child then they could sexually abuse a child or at least provoke gossip about such a prospect."
"By this time, child sexual abuse was on his radar," the unredacted report said.

The reports released Thursday also said Pell should have acted sooner to advise Archbishop Frank Little to remove Father Peter Searson, a parish priest who had been accused of a litany of abuse.

St. Jude's, Immaculate Conception named in lawsuit for 1970s child sexual abuse

Alamogordo Daily News

May 6, 2020

By Nicole Maxwell

[See also the lawsuit.]

A lawsuit centered on child molestation by Fr. David Holley named two Alamogordo Catholic parishes and several dioceses as defendants.

The suit, filed in the 2nd Judicial District Court in Bernalillo County, alleged the Servants of Paraclete, the Catholic Diocese of El Paso, Diocese of Worcester, Dioces of Las Cruces, the Immaculate Conception Parish and St. Jude Parish allowed Holley to prey on boys within the Alamogordo parishes during his time in New Mexico in the 1970s.

The suit was filed by "John Doe" and demanded a jury trial and restitution. The complaint alleged negligence, intentional infliction of emotional distress, vicarious liability, public nuisance and racketeering.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church offered no comment on the suit.

The suit places most of the blame on Holley's home diocese: the Diocese of Worcester, located in Massachusetts.

It gives a history of child sexual offenses that Holley was alleged to have perpetrated in Massachusetts prior to transfer to the Servants of the Paraclete in New Mexico.

The Servants of the Paraclete operated a rehabilitation center initially for priests with substance abuse issues before it admitted priests with psycho-sexual disorder, which was what Holley had, according to the complaint.

Catholic Diocese, Western Mass. District Attorneys Reach Deal On Sexual Abuse Reporting

New England Public Radio

May 6, 2020

By Adam Frenier

The Springfield Roman Catholic Diocese and three western Massachusetts prosecutors have reached a deal on how the church will report sexual abuse allegations.

Under the memorandum of understanding, the diocese has to turn over information about sexual abuse claims it receives to the appropriate district attorney's office. The church also will suspend its own investigation for three months, or longer if a criminal probe is taking place.

The deal comes after Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni said last year the diocese was failing to refer all cases to prosecutors. Gulluni said this latest agreement should clear up those concerns.

"We're happy with this, that this will be in place going forward, to make sure that if any of those allegations come forward to the diocese, that they're given to law enforcement [and] law enforcement has the appropriate opportunity to investigate cases," Gulluni said.

Diocese of Buffalo Halts Pay for 23 Catholic Priests Involved in Child Sex Abuse Cases

Legal Examiner - Saunders and Walker

May 6, 2020

By Joseph H. Saunders

The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which has recently been hit by hundreds of child sex abuse claims, has announced it will terminate pay and health benefits for 23 priests involved in the allegations. The move comes after the diocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in late February.

The diocese is facing over 250 lawsuits alleging child sex abuse by its priests. That’s more than any other diocese in New York.

In a letter, Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger explained that the termination of pay was part of an agreement reached in federal bankruptcy court with the committee representing over 200 survivors suing the diocese under New York’s Child Victims Act. Enacted on August 15, 2019, the statewide Child Victims Act opened a one-year window for survivors to sue the Catholic Church for abuse they suffered as children, despite how much time has passed.

The lay role in covering up abuse

Catholic Weekly - Archdiocese of Sydney

May 7, 2020

By Dr Philippa Martyr

A difficult conversation – but necessar

If we are going to do real soul-searching about clergy sexual abuse, it’s time we turned the spotlight on to the laity and their role in enabling abusers.

This is a difficult conversation to begin. We are used to seeing ourselves as the good guys, and the solution, not the problem: that if we had lay-led parishes or diocesan offices, this would rid us of clergy abuse for good.

Unfortunately, history is not on our side. Cases of clergy sexual abuse in the English-speaking world reveal any number of compromised lay people who have helped with covering up and explaining away, either directly or indirectly.

The ‘lay clericalism’ of the insiders

They are usually wealthy and influential, or employed by the Church, or in useful professions. Start with the Boston case, so admirably narrated in ‘Spotlight’- a good reminder that almost all clergy abuse has been exposed by outsider journalists, not by people inside the Church.

May 6, 2020

Saints emails, lawsuits could be buried in church bankruptcy

Associated Press

May 5, 2020

By Jm Mustian and Michael Rezendes

A bankruptcy filing by New Orleans’ Roman Catholic archdiocese freezes sexual abuse lawsuits and could help bury the details of alleged coverups of predator priests and thousands of internal emails documenting a behind-the-scenes alliance with the New Orleans Saints.

Attorneys for those suing the church attacked last week’s Chapter 11 filing as a veiled attempt to keep church records secret, scrap a long-awaited legal deposition of Archbishop Gregory Aymond and deny victims a public reckoning that had been years in the making.

“Those victims were on the path to the truth,” attorney Soren Gisleson wrote in court papers. “The rape of children is a thief that keeps on stealing.”

Among the most explosive legal fights now in disarray is a lawsuit alleging Aymond and his three predecessors systematically concealed the crimes of the Rev. Lawrence Hecker, an 88-year-old priest removed from active ministry in 2002 after accusations that he abused “countless children.”

A recent court motion drew direct parallels between the church’s handling of Hecker and John Geoghan, a serial pedophile who molested scores of children during his 30-year career as a Massachusetts clergyman.

The bankruptcy also freezes a court battle over a cache of confidential emails describing the behind-the-scenes public relations work New Orleans Saints executives did for the archdiocese in 2018 and 2019 to contain fallout from clergy abuse scandals.

Letter to the Faithful

Archdiocese of Philadelphia

May 5, 2020

By Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

With the worldwide outbreak of the coronavirus, life as we understand it has temporarily changed in drastic and necessary ways for the good of public health. I know that these difficult times have brought concerns about physical and mental health, family, loved ones, and finances to the forefront of your minds. As a people of faith, we will continue to navigate these challenging waters together.

As your Shepherd it is my duty to provide for the pastoral and temporal well-being of every member of our local Church. Some of those most in need of our care and compassion are survivors of sexual abuse at the hands of Archdiocesan clergy. I deeply regret the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them. The pain and damage are profound.

In November of 2018, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia committed to creating new modes of support focused on a path toward healing and helping survivors. To supplement the Victim Assistance Program in place since 2002, the Archdiocese launched the Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program (IRRP). It has provided an opportunity for survivors to share their experiences, identify their abusers, and receive compensation to assist them in healing and recovery. From its outset, this program included a comprehensive financial plan to provide for its funding. As the claims submission period has now passed, we are providing you with an update on the progress of this important ministerial outreach.

As of April 22, 2020, a total of 800 individuals have come forward to the IRRP. 615 of these individuals have submitted formal claims. The Archdiocese remains fully committed to funding this program and paying claims in the amounts assigned by the independent IRRP Claims Administrators. Given the claims experience to date, the Archdiocese currently estimates the total cost of the IRRP to be approximately $130 million. As of April 22, 2020, $43.8 million of total compensation had already been paid to resolve 208 claims fully.

Philly archdiocese expects to pay $126 million in priest sex-abuse reparations

Philadelphia Inquirer

May 5, 2020

By Harold Brubaker

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia said Tuesday that it expects to pay $126 million to sexual-abuse victims under a reparations program announced in 2018.

The archdiocese said its Independent Reconciliation and Reparations Program has received a total of 615 claims, and had settled 208 of them for $43.8 million as of April 22. That averages out to about $211,000 per claim, which is in line with what other dioceses have been paying under similar programs.

The archdiocese said it still has $20 million on hand to pay claims and will raise the rest of the money through loans or property sales. The diocese made the $126 million estimate as part of an audited financial statement for the year ending June 30, 2019.

“I deeply regret the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them," Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez wrote to parishioners in a letter Tuesday. "The pain and damage are profound.”

Philadelphia Archdiocese committed to paying $130 million to sex abuse victims


May 6, 2020

By Dann Cuellar

In a profound letter to parishioners, the newly installed Archbishop of Philadelphia, Nelson Perez, addressed claims of prior priest sex abuse of children head-on, saying the archdiocese is committed to paying about $130 million in reparations.

When new Archbishop Perez came to Philadelphia from Cleveland a few months ago, he inherited a mess stemming from the priest sex abuse scandal. But on Tuesday, he says in a letter that he deeply regrets the pain and suffering of survivors and any decisions that failed to protect them.

A victim of sex abuse and spokesman for a survivors group called SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests), recently met with the archbishop.

"I found the archbishop to be compassionate. I found him to be concerning, and he expressed his own personal anger and disgust of what has happened," said Mike McDougal.

In the letter, the archbishop says that the archdiocese remains fully committed to funding a reparations program for victims and paying claims of approximately $130 million. That's roughly about $211,000 per claim.

After 1st bankruptcy hearing, Archdiocese of New Orleans is told whom it can, can't pay for now

Times-Picayune / New Orleans Advocate

May 4, 2020

By Matt Sledge

A federal judge said Monday that the Archdiocese of New Orleans can keep its lights on, but she held off on other decisions as the first hearing of the archdiocese's bankruptcy process turned into a skirmish between lawyers for alleged victims of sexual abuse and the church.

The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection on Friday, citing the financial fallout from abuse lawsuits and the coronavirus pandemic. The move essentially kicks a multitude of lawsuits against the church out of state court and into a single federal case.

While the bankruptcy process continues, the church asked for approval to keep paying utility bills, salaries for hundreds of employees and insurance premiums.

Such requests are standard procedure at the time of a bankruptcy filing, but attorneys wrangled over them for more than two hours during a telephone hearing on Monday.

Accusers’ lawyers said the judge should order that no salary or pension payments be made to predator priests and demanded to know the archdiocese’s plan for using cash in one bank account.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Meredith S. Grabill said she would approve requests from the church to keep making utility and insurance payments. She also approved salary payments for nearly 800 full-time and part-time employees.

However, Grabill also said the church should not make salary or pension payments to employees who have been credibly accused of sexual abuse. The church in 2018 revealed a list of dozens of suspected predator priests.

May 5, 2020

Cardinal George Pell: complete royal commission findings to be released within days

Australian Associated Press via The Guardian

May 5, 2020

The federal attorney general says two separate reports on abuse in the Melbourne and Ballarat dioceses can now be released in full

A royal commission’s findings about Cardinal George Pell’s knowledge of historical child sexual abuse complaints will be released within days.

The federal attorney general, Christian Porter, says he has been advised that the two royal commission into institutional responses to child sexual abuse reports can now be published in full.

Porter said that would happen within days, although he would not give a specific release date.

“The advice is that it is now okay to publish the unredacted version,” he told the ABC on Tuesday.

Porter said he would read the reports and consider the final legal advice, but did not expect there to be any problem with the release of the documents.

“They’ve only just arrived with me now that that advice has been received, so it’s just a matter of process from here and that will be a matter of days.”

The reports into the Catholic church’s response to abuse complaints and allegations in the Melbourne archdiocese and Victoria’s Ballarat diocese were released in December 2017.

Opinion: There’s a new Baptist sex abuser database, but SBC action is still needed

Religion News Service

May 4, 2020

By Christa Brown

For more than a decade, abuse survivor advocates have been asking the Southern Baptist Convention to establish a clergy predator database, and for just as long they've been confronted with a denomination determined to do nothing.

Now Megan and Dominique Benninger, who brought to light their former pastor's record as a convicted child molester after the leadership of their Pennsylvania church failed to disclose it, have launched a new Baptist sex abuser database at BaptistAccountability.org.

Their work builds on the StopBaptistPredators database that I started and maintained from 2006 to 2012, containing 170 entries of convicted, admitted and credibly accused Southern Baptist clergy sex abusers and on the “Abuse of Faith” database that the Houston Chronicle published in 2019, documenting 263 criminally convicted and plea-bargained Southern Baptist sex offenders over the prior 20 years.

BaptistAccountability has incorporated the information from these prior databases and is continuing to expand through crowdsourcing. You can submit an entry here.

In explaining the purpose of their database, the Benningers focus not only on protecting kids and congregants but also on their stated desire that the site serve as “a testimony” to the fact that “it’s just not that hard” and that the SBC could do this if it wanted. “Again and again,” they say, “we’ve been told that the Southern Baptist Convention takes this issue seriously. But if you take something seriously, it causes you to ACT.”

Buffalo diocese seeks halt to outstanding sex abuse lawsuits

Associated Press

May 4, 2020

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action seeking to stop all outstanding clergy sexual abuse lawsuits while it navigates bankruptcy proceedings in federal court.

The diocese filed a motion in federal bankruptcy court on Saturday seeking an injunction on lawsuits filed under New York’s Child Victims Act. About 250 lawsuits have been filed against the diocese since August, when the act gave victims one year to pursue even decades-old allegations of abuse.

Lawsuits against the diocese were moved to bankruptcy court in February and permanently frozen, but the bankruptcy filing only temporarily halted lawsuits against individual parishes or Catholic schools. Those cases could be moved back into state supreme court unless the diocese is granted a permanent injunction.

Buffalo Catholic Diocese Lawyers Ask for Abuse Lawsuits To Be Put on Hold

Spectrum News

May. 4, 2020

Lawyers for the Buffalo Catholic Diocese are asking for the abuse lawsuits filed under the Child Victims Act to be put on hold.

Attorneys for clergy sex abuse survivors are rallying against the latest legal move by the diocese.

Lawyers representing the diocese filed an adversary proceeding in bankruptcy court, stating the abuse lawsuits could prevent the diocese from reorganizing its debts.

A local attorney who's filed more than 100 sex abuse claims against the diocese says this move could force those cases out of state supreme court, and limit what information the diocese would be forced to reveal.

It's something lawyers already had to deal with in the Rochester Diocese.

"What we did in that case is we negotiated a stipulate stay with them on a temporary bases in exchange for the personnel files and in Rochester the diocese has turned over about 43,000 some pages of personnel files and other records,” said attorney Steve Boyd. “We don't think those records are complete yet, but it's a lot more than nothing."

Mitchell Garabedian is another attorney representing 39 survivors who are suing the diocese.

"This legal maneuver by the Diocese of Buffalo is just another example of the Catholic Church coldly putting its needs before the needs of victims,” he said. “Instead of trying to negotiate an agreement the Diocese has chosen to litigate and accordingly once again shown how little it cares about the healing of victims."

I once thought Catholic humanist Jean Vanier a hero. Now I’m wrestling with his coercive legacy

The Conversation

April 30, 2020

By Jane Barter

When Jean Vanier passed away in May 2019, the Canadian Catholic founder of the L'Arche International movement that challenged barriers between people with disabilities and able-bodied people was hailed as a “saviour to people on the margins.”

But since news of his abuse of six women broke in Feburary 2020, many who once thought him a hero have struggled to make sense of the man and his legacy.

I include myself in this group.

As a former caregiver of people with disablities, I came to see Vanier’s theology of disability as one that had the capacity to transform not only hearts and minds, but also communities and structures. But since learning of the abuse, I have come to see it otherwise.

Supreme Court says Basilian Fathers responsible for $2.5M in damages to sexual abuse victim Rod MacLeod


May 1, 2020


Canada’s highest court upholds decision from Ontario Court of Appeals that religious order liable for damages

Rod MacLeod, the victim of a pedophile priest in the 1960s at a Sudbury high school, said he hopes his latest legal victory will inspire other sexual abuse victims to come forward and “seek justice through the court.”

MacLeod made the comments on April 30 when the Supreme Court of Canada rejected the Basilian Fathers of Toronto’s bid for a further appeal after they were held responsible when one of their priests was convicted in 2011 of abusing 17 students at schools over a 38-year period.

MacLeod was one of those students. He was abused by Father William Hodgson Marshall when he attended St. Charles College from 1963-1967.

MacLeod received $500,000 in punitive damages and more than $1.5 million for lost earnings.

“It is possible to achieve justice in Canada,” MacLeod said in a news release following the decision from the Supreme Court of Canada.

Marshall worked in Rochester, Toronto, Windsor, Sudbury and Sault Ste. Marie, and was reported a total of six times over his career, but continued in his role as a priest and teacher. He died in 2014.

Instead of reporting Marshall to the police, the Basilian Fathers moved him to another school when abuse complaints emerged. The Basilians are a Roman Catholic Religious Order of priests who operate on three continents, including in Canada and the United States, with their headquarters located in Toronto, Ontario.

May 4, 2020

Diocese of Buffalo files adversary proceeding to stop CVA cases from moving forward


May 3, 2020

The Diocese of Buffalo has taken legal action to stop lawsuits filed under the Child Victims’ Act from moving forward.

The Diocese recently filed an adversary proceeding.

Currently, all of the lawsuits against the Diocese are frozen because it’s in bankruptcy. However, lawsuits that name a parish or school are only stopped temporarily because the parish or school is not in bankruptcy, meaning that they could still go to trial.

Attorney Steve Boyd told News 4 that this action is meant to freeze the cases so that they don’t reach the courtroom.

Pandemic Stalls CVA Cases in NYC: Lawmakers May Extend Legal Window

Brooklyn Reader

May 2, 2020

By Albert Cooper

The Child Victims Act (CVA), which was enacted last year, is widely lauded for opening up the time frame for victims of child sexual abuse to file lawsuits over claims that were previously barred from court due to the statute of limitations.

Amid the pandemic that has nearly clogged the wheel of justice, state lawmakers are yet to decide on extending a one-year legal window that allowed survivors of child sex abuse to sue over decades-old allegations.

The legal window is set to close in August, but New York’s court system is no longer accepting CVA lawsuits. Since the state’s court system has postponed all non-essential services and the CVA lawsuits were not listed as essential under an order from Lawrence Marks, the state’s chief administrative judge, this has effectively placed a hold on new litigation under the act.

It should be noted that an executive order from Cuomo last month paused the state’s statute of limitations, tolling “any specific time limit for the commencement, filing, or service of any legal action, notice, motion, or other process or proceeding.”

Michigan seeks to dismiss ex-wrestler's sexual abuse lawsuit, says he waited to long to sue


May 1, 2020

Detroit - A former wrestler who claims he was sexually assaulted by a University of Michigan sports doctor waited too long to file a lawsuit, the school said Friday as it asked a judge to dismiss the case.

The university said it believes Dr. Robert Anderson assaulted athletes, and it wants to compensate victims. But it added that it's trying to avoid "drawn-out litigation'' while a law firm investigates what happened during Anderson's decades in Ann Arbor. He died in 2008.

"The university is committed to grappling with those findings, whatever they may be, to ensure that nothing like this can ever happen again,'' attorneys said in a filing in U.S. District Court.

In his lawsuit, a man identified as John Doe MC-4 said he was molested by Anderson during exams approximately 16 times, from 1987 to 1991. Hundreds of others have said they too were assaulted, some as far back as the 1960s.

"The university has great sympathy for what plaintiff suffered,'' attorney Cheryl Bush said of Doe.

But in Doe's case, Bush noted that decades have passed since the last abuse, making the lawsuit untimely.

Alleged sex abuse kept a Michigan football player away from doctors for decades. He now has stage 4 cancer


May 4, 2020

By Eliott C. McLaughlin

It was the snap of the doctor's glove that spooked him right out of the exam room.

Chuck Christian is a large fellow, a 6-foot-4 former tight end for one of the most decorated college football programs in the country. He doesn't come off as squeamish.

Yet about 15 years ago, when a physician prepared to perform a prostate exam after Christian discovered blood in his semen, the big man simply walked out of the office. He harkened back decades to his days as a Michigan Wolverine, when team Dr. Robert Anderson allegedly performed unwarranted prostate checks on athletes.

"Nobody's going to do that again," he thought as he escaped the urology clinic. "That's why I didn't go get the exam because of my fear of these digital exams that Dr. Anderson used to give me."

Today, Christian, 60, has stage 4 prostate cancer that has spread to his spine, tailbone, hips, ribs and shoulders.
Doctors told him in 2016 he had three years to live, but he just passed the four-year mark, he said, explaining that he opted for alternative treatments over chemotherapy and radiation.

The married father of three wishes he would've realized sooner that his fear of doctors stemmed from the trauma he says he suffered as a University of Michigan student-athlete in Anderson's exam room. He's speaking up so other former athletes don't make the mistake he made, of waiting too long to get checked.

No one should be ashamed of being a victim, he said.

Former resident gives victims voice in Boy Scouts bankruptcy

Guam Daily Post

May 4, 2020

By Haidee Eugenio Gilbert

A former Guam resident now living in Virginia sits on an official committee that represents the interests of potentially thousands of survivors of child sexual abuse in the Boy Scouts of America's bankruptcy case.

Guam's abuse claims represent more than a quarter of the approximately 275 pending civil actions asserting personal injury claims against the Boy Scouts across the nation, as of Feb. 18.

Across the United States, some 1,400 additional claims of abuse against the Boy Scouts are anticipated.

Morgan Wade Paul, a former Guam altar boy and Boy Scout, was appointed to sit on the nine-member official committee of unsecured creditors in the Boy Scouts bankruptcy.

Paul, represented by Lujan & Wolff LLP, filed a Guam lawsuit in 2017, alleging that Guam priest and Boy Scout scoutmaster Louis Brouillard had sexually abused him repeatedly for a scout swimming merit badge around 1975.

May 3, 2020

Renewing Our Commitment: Letter from Archbishop Gregory M Aymond on Decision to Pursue Reorganization under Chapter 11

Archdiocese of New Orleans

May 1, 2020

By Archbishop Gregory M. Aymond

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

The past few years have been extremely trying times for us in the Archdiocese of New Orleans. The resurgence of the clergy abuse crisis has been particularly challenging, especially as it has played out regularly in the local media.Most importantly, again, I extend daily prayers to those who are victims and survivors. May God give you healing and renewed hope. This issue coupled with ongoing budget challenges has created an impossible situation.

After much prayer and consultation, we have made the difficult decision to pursue Chapter 11 reorganization. I, along with a team of advisors, believe that reorganization will create an opportunity for us to renew our commitment to the faithful and the New Orleans community by restructuring our financials, increasing our transparency and creating a path forward in hopes that we can continue and strengthen our core mission: bringing Christ to others. This reorganization will affect only the archdiocesan administrative offices.

The prospect of more abuse cases with associated prolonged and costly litigation, together with pressing ministerial needs and budget challenges, is simply not financially sustainable. Additionally, the unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have added more financial hardships to an already difficult situation.

Notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is almost certain to die in jail after admitting to raping MORE boys - but claims he should be released

Daily Mail

May 3, 2020

By Australian Associated Press and Jackson Barron for Daily Mail

- Gerald Ridsdale is facing 14 more assault charges from Victoria in 1973 to 1979
- The charges will likely extend his release date and have Ridsdale die in prison
- He has been charged with 136 offences, with some victims as young as four
- Ridsdale admitted more rapes and his lawyer argued he shouldn't get more time
- Barrister Tim Marsh said he should have been sentenced for his crimes at once

Paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale is likely to die in jail as he faces more sexual abuse charges.

The 85-year-old will be heard on May 14 for 10 indecent assault charges and four buggery charges in Victoria between 1973 and 1979 to further his time behind bars.

The charges will likely extend his time behind bars beyond 2022, his earliest release date.

Ridsdale is suffering chronic health problems including heart conditions, arthristis, bowel problems and high blood pressure.

He has been charged with 136 offences since 1994, with his barrister Tim Marsh telling The Australian he is 'a repugnant figure to many, and for reasons that are only too understandable'.

In the end, Pell witch-hunters fail to nail their man [OPINION]

Malaysia Sun

By Chris Fiel

May 3, 2020

- In the wake of Cardinal George Pell's acquittal, commentators have asked whether the Australian national broadcaster engaged in a witch-hunt.

- I shall not address this question directly but ask instead what a witch-hunt is.

- I have written on Farlow previously identifying the close links with the lawyer who acted for Pell's complainant.

In the wake of Cardinal George Pell's acquittal, commentators have asked whether the Australian national broadcaster, the ABC, engaged in a witch-hunt.

Archdiocese files for bankruptcy amid clergy abuse costs

Associated Press

May 1, 2020

By Kevin McGill

The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans announced Friday that it is seeking federal Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection amid growing legal costs related to sexual abuse by priests.

The filing for reorganization could free the archdiocese from the threat of creditors’ lawsuits while it reorganizes its finances. The New Orleans archdiocese is the latest of more than 20 dioceses nationwide to take such action.

Friday’s statement said costs associated with preventing the spread of coronavirus also have contributed to financial pressures.

The archdiocese said the filing applies only to the administrative offices of the archdiocese. “The Archdiocese’s action will not affect individual church parishes, their schools, schools run by the various religious orders, or ministries of the church,” the statement said.

Waukesha County DA will not pursue new charges against priest accused of sex assault

Fox 6 TV News

May 1, 2020

The Waukesha County District Attorney will not pursue new charges against a priest accused of sexual assault of a teenage girl.

Father Charles Hanel was accused of sexually assaulting a 13-year-old girl in December 2017 during confession at Queen of Apostles Church.

At trial, the judge agreed to a motion for a mistrial and dismissed the jury.

Now, in a letter obtained by FOX6 News, District Attorney Sue Opper said she will not seek new charges to avoid the strain of a new trial for all of the parties involved.

Hanel’s defense attorney said the decision is welcome news for “an innocent man who has been through a terrible ordeal.”

Archdiocese: Bankruptcy filing for good of church, victims and survivors; abuse claimants skeptical


May 1, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Archbishop Gregory Aymond, facing the mounting financial toll of the Catholic church’s child sexual-abuse crisis and the more acute money troubles wrought by the coronavirus, filed the paperwork early Friday morning to seek bankruptcy protection for the Archdiocese of New Orleans.

Aymond, the leader of the two-century old archdiocese serving half a million area Catholics, broke the news in person to dozens of mask-wearing clergy Thursday evening at a Metairie church before officially submitting the documents to federal bankruptcy court a little after midnight.

On Friday, he told the faithful that the filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy petition is aimed at putting the archdiocese on sounder financial footing in the wake of millions of dollars in abuse claims.

For clergy abuse cases, Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy alters landscape for settlements


May 2, 2020

By John Simerman

For the Archdiocese of New Orleans, shadow-boxing the sins of its past became a fight too risky to stomach.

Now, in the wake of filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy on Friday, the archdiocese and its creditors — mostly sexual abuse claimants — will begin to negotiate the price for a move bound to have lasting repercussions for the archdiocese and its accusers, for better or worse.

The outcome will hinge on several factors, as clergy abuse claims move en masse from the drag-it-out halls of state court, to a single federal bankruptcy proceeding with no jury and a swifter pace, say lawyers and advocates familiar with the 26 previous bankruptcy filings by U.S. dioceses since 2004.

WATCH NOW: Father Mark White of Martinsville will aim canon at the Bishop of Richmond Barry Knestout

Martinsville Bulletin

May 2, 2020

By Bill Wyatt

The ongoing dispute between Father Mark White of Martinsville and Bishop of Richmond Barry Knestout will be decided by a Catholic court.

The boiling dispute between a Martinsville priest and a Richmond bishop could wind up spilling over the doorstep of the Vatican in Rome.

That is the intention of Michael Podhajsky, the canon lawyer retained by Father Mark White to defend against the efforts of Richmond Bishop Barry Knestout to remove White as pastor of St. Joseph Parish in Martinsville and St. Francis of Assisi Parish in Rocky Mount.

Knestout issued a decree effective April 13, the day after Easter Sunday, removing White and declaring the priest had “persistently disregarded” repeated instructions “to desist from his scurrilous and public, published attacks on His Holiness, Pope Francis and other members of the hierarchy.”

May 2, 2020

Montana sees flurry of child sex abuse lawsuits as deadline approaches

Independent Record

May 1, 2020

By Phoebe Tollefson

The one-year window Montana lawmakers opened to give child sex abuse survivors a chance to bring old claims is closing soon, and a flurry of lawsuits is hitting the courts.

Adults who were abused as children have until May 6 to bring claims otherwise barred by the statute of limitations. The Montana Legislature created the window in 2019, prompted by news of a lawsuit against James “Doc” Jensen, a Miles City high school athletic trainer who abused dozens of boys while working with the district between the 1970s and 1990s.

After May 6, various restrictions are reinstated on which claims can be brought. Factors include age of the victim, and whether the abuser is still alive.

Amazon Tribes Say Christian Missionaries Threaten ‘Genocide’ During Pandemic


April 21, 2020

By Travis Waldron

Indigenous Brazilians are demanding a missionary group based in Florida with deep ties to far-right President Jair Bolsonaro stay off their lands.

The novel coronavirus outbreak has intensified a decadeslong battle between indigenous tribes and evangelical Christian missionaries in the most remote regions of the Brazilian Amazon rainforest, as tribes warning of the virus’s potential to cause their “genocide” have pushed to ban controversial religious groups from entering their lands.

On Thursday, a Brazilian judge granted the tribes’ wishes, barring missionaries from entering the Javari Valley, a remote region along Brazil’s border with Peru that is home to numerous indigenous tribes and at least 16 groups of isolated peoples ― those who have no known contact with outside communities.

The ruling specifically named three missionaries, as well as New Tribes Mission of Brazil, a 67-year-old fundamentalist Christian organization that is affiliated with a larger evangelical missionary group in the United States. New Tribes also has deep ties to the right-wing government of President Jair Bolsonaro, who in February tapped Ricardo Lopes Dias, a former New Tribes missionary, to head the agency that is supposed to protect Brazil’s isolated peoples.

Attorneys for alleged victims of church sex abuse respond to Archdiocese of New Orleans bankruptcy filing

WVUE, Fox 8-TV

May 1, 2020

By Kimberly Curth

SNAP reacts to Archdiocese bankruptcy filing

Attorneys for alleged church sex abuse victims with pending lawsuits against the Archdiocese of New Orleans released the following statement Friday responding to the Archdiocese’s bankruptcy filing.


“Regarding the Archdiocese’s midnight filing for bankruptcy, Archbishop Gregory Aymond stated, “I strongly believe that this path will allow victims and survivors of clergy abuse to resolve their claims in a fair and timely manner.” Unfortunately, this is not what our client-survivors believe, and of course, Abp. Aymond made no attempt to find out what the victim-survivors believed. When he released the incomplete list of pedophile clergy on November 2, 2018, Abp. Aymond said he wanted “justice” for the victims and promised to be totally transparent. He then proceeded to spend ungodly amounts of money fighting these very same victims in court and being the exact opposite of transparent. This bankruptcy brings all pending lawsuits, including the depositions of Aymond and other Archdiocese officials, to a grinding halt. Abp. Aymond will never have to face a single victim before a jury.

"The Archdiocese sought to keep internal documents of decades of sexual abuse hidden from the public. The Archdiocese sought to keep the victims from understanding the full weight and scope of its intentional, conscious scheme to protect, promote, and pay child rapists. Its bankruptcy filing is more of the same. ..."

Paedophile priest forged links with Celtic Boys Club

Times of London

May 2, 2020

By Marc Horne

An English-based paedophile had connections with Celtic Boys Club it has emerged, strengthening claims of collusion between a network of abusers.

Father Michael Spencer, a priest, teacher and football coach, used his position at Preston Catholic College, Lancashire, to abuse dozens of adolescent boys in the 1970s.

Now evidence has emerged which shows that Spencer, who died in 2000, forged a relationship with Celtic FC’s feeder club and brought young players to Glasgow. Four men who held senior roles with Celtic Boys Club have been convicted of sexual abuse, spanning four decades, in recent years.

Police Scotland is investigating claims that known abusers worked together to molest young footballers.

It came after an independent review — commissioned by the Scottish FA — received “substantive” new evidence of an organised abuse ring operated by paedophile coaches in Scotland and England.

Celtic View, Celtic FC’s official magazine, carried an article praising Spencer in August, 1975. It said he had been invited to Glasgow for a “friendly” match between Celtic Boys Club and his Preston Schoolboys under 15 team.

In 2012 Patrick Raggett, a former lawyer, was awarded £55,000 in damages for the years of abuse Spencer inflicted on him during his schooldays.

Lady Justice Swift at the High Court in London ruled Mr Raggett had been the victim of “insidious” abuse, stating: “Father Spencer took every opportunity to observe naked young boys and film them. He exploited his position to touch and fondle the boys for his own sexual satisfaction.”

Mr Raggett told The Times: “It seems inconceivable to me that Spencer and those responsible for abuse at Celtic Boys Club weren’t in collusion.”

His abuser filmed and photographed him naked on numerous occasions as well as taking shots of him in his football kit and swimming trunks.

Mr Ragget said: “Spencer was a Celtic fanatic and had an obsession with photography and filming. He used to wear a black tracksuit with a Celtic badge and would show cine footage of the Celtic Boys Club playing, which would bore us rigid. I also believe he was sharing naked footage of me with others.”

In 2004 John Cullen, who worked as the official photographer for Celtic View for almost 30 years, admitted taking indecent photographs of boys as young as 10. Cleaners found a black bag containing bundles of black and white images of naked and semi-naked boys in a store room at Celtic Park.

Glasgow sheriff court heard the cache had been hidden there for almost 20 years before the management was alerted, called in the police and sacked Cullen, who was given three years probation.

In 1976 Spencer’s conduct was deemed to be “unsatisfactory”, but he remained at the college until it closed in 1978 before being sent to Orkney.

The review into abuse in Scottish football, due to be published within weeks, is expected to name Gordon Neely, a former Rangers and Hibernian youth coach, as a prolific abuser who worked with other paedophiles in northwest England. Neely died of cancer in 2014.

Celtic FC has said that it is sorry that abuse took place but continues to insist that it was a separate entity to its feeder club.

Vatican suspends priest over allegations of sexual abuse


May 1, 2020

Yepes was denounced in recent years by three men who, they say, were victims of sexual abuse by the priest when they were minors

The Colombian priest Carlos Arturo Yepes has been provisionally suspended from the exercise of all priestly ministry by order of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith of The Vatican for allegations of alleged sexual abuse.

This was confirmed by the vicar general of the Archdiocese of Medellín, Father Óscar Augusto Álvarez, who assured Caracol Radio that “the Congregation has just ordered the carrying out of a canonical criminal judicial process and has been suspended ad cautelam.”

The Archdiocese of Medellín In 2018, he opened a formal investigation to Yepes for the complaint of a 36-year-old man who claimed to have been abused, when he was still a child, by the religious in 1995.

Accused priests cannot be left 'destitute', Buffalo diocese clarifies

Catholic News Agency

May 1, 2020

By Matt Hadro

The Diocese of Buffalo clarified on Friday that priests accused of sexual abuse cannot be left “destitute,” even as the diocese acts to withdraw financial support payments.

The diocese had announced earlier this week that 23 priests “with substantiated allegations of sexual abuse” would no longer receive financial assistance or health benefits from the Diocese of Buffalo as of May 1. However, the diocese said that pension plans would not be affected by the decision.

Interim communications director for the diocese Greg Tucker told CNA on Friday that “the diocese recognizes that there are certain canonical obligations to ensure that these individuals are not left destitute and is addressing this.”

What If Biden, The Accused, Were A Priest? [Opinion]

Eurasia Review

May 1, 2020

By William Donohue

If Joe Biden were a priest, he would have been removed from ministry pending a more thorough investigation. Instead, he is holed up in his basement talking to the media. Until May 1, no one from the media asked him one question about sexually assaulting Tara Reade.

On April 29, the Free Beacon reported that in 19 interviews he granted over a 5-week period, he fielded 142 questions, but not one was about Reade. In fact, when Biden was interviewed on April 28, even though he teed it up for reporters by discussing domestic violence and challenges that women face, none asked him about his accuser. That changed when Biden was questioned by Mika Brzezinski on the MSNBC show, “Morning Joe.”

Five people have corroborated at least some parts of Reade’s account. She says Biden, then a senator, digitally penetrated her against her will in 1993. She says she reported the assault to three of his staffers. She also filed a Senate complaint. What happened? She was subject to reprisal. She said her assignments were downgraded, and she was moved to an isolated workstation. She was also told she had 12 months to find another job

Court denies appeal from Basilian Fathers

Windsor Star

Mary 2, 2020

By Trevor Wilhelm

The Supreme Court of Canada has shot down the appeal of a $2.5 million judgment against the Basilian Fathers of Toronto for sexual abuse inflicted by Rev. William “Hod” Hodgson Marshall.

The country’s highest court handed down its decision against the Basilians, a Roman Catholic Religious Order of priests, on Thursday.

“I hope this final victory will give hope to other sexual abuse victims to come forward and seek justice through the courts,” said abuse survivor Rod MacLeod, who sued the Basilians for the abuse he suffered at the hands of Marshall. “It is possible to achieve justice in Canada.”

On April 26, 2018, a Toronto jury awarded a judgment of $2,570,181, including $500,000 in punitive damages, against the Basilians for abuse Hodgson inflicted against MacLeod.

May 1, 2020

227-year-old New Orleans Archdiocese files for federal bankruptcy protection

The Washington Times

May 1, 2020

By James Varney

Hobbled by waves of sexual abuse lawsuits against clergy members and unable to hold services during the coronavirus emergency, the 227-year-old Archdiocese of New Orleans filed for bankruptcy protection Friday.

The announcement leaked Thursday evening after Archbishop Gregory Aymond met with more than 100 Roman Catholic clergy members in Metairie, just outside of New Orleans, and delivered the grim news, according to nola.com.

Archdiocese of N.O. files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy amid sex abuse litigation

New Orleans (LA)

May 1, 2020

By Kenny Kuhn

Aymond: Church parishes and schools not affected

The Archdiocese of New Orleans announced Friday that it is filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.

Archbishop Gregory Aymond said in a statement that the filing only affects the Archdiocese’s administrative offices at Walmsley Avenue and the offices on Howard Avenue. Aymond says the action will not affect individual church parishes or their schools.

“The move was necessitated by the growing financial strain caused by litigation stemming from decades-old incidents of clergy abuse as well as ongoing budget challenges,” Aymond said. “The unforeseen circumstances surrounding COVID-19 have added more financial hardships to an already difficult situation.”

CASA braces for caseload influx once state re-opens


April 30, 2020

By Shelby Reilly

With children and their guardians stuck at home due to school shutdowns and a statewide ‘stay at home order’, advocates worry that child abuse may be going undetected and unreported.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Jackson County says it is now bracing for the influx of cases it expects to see as the state prepares to reopen.

St Helen's Ore vicar Paul Parks banned for abusing his wife

The Argus

May 1, 2020

By Aidan Barlow

A “RAGING” vicar who previously served in the SAS has been banned from the Church of England over abuse and threats to kill his wife.

Reverend Paul Parks had been working as the vicar for St Helen’s with St Barnabas Church in Ore, Hastings.

But he admitted being in breach of Clergy Discipline Measures by a sustained pattern of abuse and assault on his wife Lois, whom he married in 2003.

Oakdale man gets 30 to 40 years in child abuse case

Norfolk Daily News

May 1, 2020

Christofer Carstens, 21, of Oakdale was sentenced to 30 to 40 years in the Nebraska Department of Corrections for child abuse on Wednesday.

Carstens was convicted of injuring his infant daughter in May 2019.

He pleaded no contest to the charges in March, in exchange for an agreement with Antelope County Attorney Joe Abler that no further charges would be filed in the case.

Supreme Court won't hear appeal over $2.5M awarded to Sudbury victim of Catholic priest

CTV News

May 1, 2020

By Darren MacDonald

Canada’s top court is refusing to hear an appeal of a $2.5 million judgement for a Sudbury man who was a survivor of historic sexual assaults by a Catholic priest.

Rod McLeod, a student at St. Charles College in the 1960s, was one of several victims of Father Hodgson Marshall, a priest with the Basilian Fathers. As complaints emerged about Marshall in the 1960s and 1970s, the Basilians moved him to different schools, where he victimized more children.

Marshall was convicted of abusing 17 young people in his 38-year career.

An Australian bishop speaks about a national church 'fraught with division'

National Catholic Reporter

May 1, 2020

By Joshua J. McElwee

Q & A with Bishop Vincent Long of the Parramatta Diocese

Like many Catholics in Australia, Bishop Vincent Long speaks about the upcoming plenary council as something of a final chance for the national church to show it has both reformed on clergy sexual abuse and can still be culturally relevant in the 21st century.

In an emailed NCR interview focused on how the quashing of Cardinal George Pell's convictions might affect the gathering, which has been in preparation for two years, Long called the assembly "the last throw of the dice."

Ex-SAS man barred from clergy over domestic abuse

The Times

May 1, 2020

By Emma Yeomans

A former soldier who became a vicar has been defrocked for abusing his wife, whom he called “Jezebel”, for 14 years.

The Rev Paul Parks, 60, formerly rector of St Helen’s Ore and St Barnabas in Hastings, was arrested in 2017 after his wife revealed the abuse, which included beating her and threatening to stab her with a letter opener.

Investigator's report shows vast misbehavior from Lincoln priest assigned to UNL campus


April 30, 2020

By Jon Kipper

The Diocese of Lincoln announced the results of an investigation into a priest stationed at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus, one that showed vast misbehavior from a priest entrusted to help college students with their Catholic faith.

Archbishop of Omaha George Lucas, who is currently the active bishop of the Diocese of Lincoln, which includes much of southern Nebraska, says the diocese is remorseful, and committed to serving the people respectively and appropriately going forward.

Monsignor Leonard Kalin was Chaplain of the Newman Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln from 1970 to 1998.

Vigilance Update April 2020 [Statement from Diocese of Lincoln NE]

Diocese of Lincoln

April 29, 2020

By Most Reverend George J. Lucas

(leer la carta del obispo en español)

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ:

Last April, Bishop Conley shared with all of you a plan to “Build a Culture of Vigilance” and released the names of clergy who had substantiated allegations of sexual abuse against minors and young adults.

The purpose of my letter is to update you on the diocese’s efforts and share the findings related to an investi­gation into the actions of Monsignor Leonard Kalin while he was diocesan vocation director and chaplain at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln Newman Center. It also includes a brief update on our safe environment policies, and on the priests who are on leave.

This is an important next step in strengthening trust with all of you. While Bishop Conley is on medical leave, I believe it is important to provide this update now. I have spoken to Bishop Conley and he is aware of this update. I am committed to continued communication about all this work in the hope of healing wounds and strengthening our faith as we move forward together.

Diocese: Deceased pastor at UNL made sexual advances

Associated Press

April 29, 2020

The longtime pastor of the Newman Center on the University of Nebraska-Lincoln made “occasional” sexual advances to students and seminarians, the Catholic Diocese of Lincoln announced Wednesday.

Monsignor Leonard Kalin, who died in 2008, led the Newman Center from 1970 to 1998.

The report said the leadership of the diocese was aware of the socializing, frequent trips to casinos, alcohol and cigarette use by Kalin but said evidence did not support allegations that church leaders knew of sexual impropriety by the priest, The Omaha World-Herald reported.

The diocese began investigating Kalin’s conduct in April 2018 after two former seminarians alleged in that he had made sexual advances toward them in 1998.

In a letter to church members Wednesday, Archbishop George Lucas said the investigation by an independent private investigator focused on Kalin’s leadership style and the culture he promoted at the Newman Center .

“The investigation did not find there was a culture of homosexuality at the Newman Center,” Lucas’ letter said. “The investigation did reveal that Msgr. Kalin did on occasion make sexual advances toward some seminarians and college students.”

[Opinion] The Powerful Do Not Get a Pass on Sexual Abuse

StandUpSpeakUp.org (blog)

April 26, 2020

By Tim Lennon

We have seen the recent articles concerning former Vice President Joseph Biden allegedly sexually attacking one of his aides over twenty-five years ago. The recent articles in The Guardian, The Nation Magazine, Salon, and Huffington Post provide a variety of analyses. The articles have raised a storm of wrangling in the comment section.

The Apologists

The apologists for Biden say Trump sexually abused more, so, in comparison, Biden is OK. Advocates for survivors call out the hypocrisy of Democratic Party hierarchy and their double standard. Joining in the mix are the partisan and Russian trolls who muddy every exchange.

The powerful do not get a pass. Why doesn’t the Democratic Party throw Biden out like they did Sen. Franklin? How can those who viciously attacked Justice Kavanaugh for sexual abuse and then turn around and say Joe Biden should get a free pass? Because he is better than Trump? Not only is this argument hypocritical, it is also insulting and disturbing.

Cardinal Pell's release stokes concerns about Australia's plenary council

National Catholic Reporter

May 1, 2020

By Joshua J. McElwee

Originally to begin in October, council sessions being rescheduled due to pandemic
May 1, 2020

A number of influential Catholic figures across Australia are expressing concern that the divisive atmosphere stoked by the recent quashing of Cardinal George Pell's sexual abuse convictions could frustrate hopes for an upcoming once-in-a-generation assembly of the nation's church.

The assembly, a plenary council in preparation for two years and involving the direct input of some 222,000 people across the continent, is intended to address issues of church reform and to consider the difficult questions confronting the country's largest faith community in the 21st century.

But in a series of interviews conducted over the month since Australia's highest court released Pell from prison, senior Catholic leaders worried that the passions inflamed by the case could provoke a sort of fortress mentality, in which Pell's now-scuppered prosecution is just one example of a church unfairly under siege.

Robert Fitzgerald, a widely respected lawyer and former member of the 2013-17 Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, said there is "genuine concern" among Australian Catholics that opponents to discussing church reform "will seek to leverage this recent decision to undermine the plenary council."

Archdiocese of New Orleans to file bankruptcy; Aymond meets with area priests


April 30, 2020

By Ramon Antonio Vargas

Filing could be as soon as Friday, May 1

The Archdiocese of New Orleans is preparing to file for bankruptcy, a source familiar with the matter said Thursday evening, as the mounting cost of unresolved clergy-abuse lawsuits and the shutdown of church services due to the coronavirus deliver crushing blows to church finances.

The 227-year-old local institution serving half a million New Orleans-area Catholics will join 26 other American dioceses and Catholic religious orders that have sought financial protection from creditors and claimants since the clergy-abuse scandal reached a fever pitch in 2002.

Despite filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy, which could occur as early as Friday, the archdiocese is expected to continue ministering to its parishioners and operate in relatively normal fashion. As in other recent diocesan bankruptcies, churches will still hold Mass and schools and various ministries will likely continue to teach students and perform their duties to the community whenever restrictions associated with the pandemic are lifted.

Neronha to defend constitutionality of R.I. sex-abuse law

Providence Journal

April 30, 2020

By Brian Amaral

The state attorney general is stepping into a civil battle between men who say they were abused when they were boys by Rhode Island priests and the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence.

Attorney General Peter Neronha’s office said it would defend the constitutionality of a state law passed last year giving sexual abuse victims more time to sue perpetrators even if the deadline had passed under the old law. The diocese has argued the new law is unconstitutional.

The move is an about-face for the state’s top lawyer, who previously told the court that the office wouldn’t get involved in the litigation. It signals that the constitutionality of the statute will be a threshold question for the lawsuits filed in the wake of the legislation.

“We typically decline to intervene because these cases are usually resolved short of reaching the constitutional issue,” Kristy dosReis, a spokeswoman for Neronha’s office, said in an email Wednesday. “In this case, we initially advised the court that we would not immediately intervene, but left open the possibility of doing so in the future. We continued to closely follow the litigation and, when it became clear that the Superior Court was likely to reach the constitutional issue, we advised the court of our intention to file an amicus (friend of the court) brief.”

Three men — Philip Edwardo, Peter Cummings and Robert Houllahan — allege they were abused when they were boys by different Rhode Island priests. They are represented by Timothy J. Conlon, an attorney who has spent years representing priest abuse victims. They sued after the state last year passed legislation extending the deadline for sexual abuse lawsuits from seven years to 35 years after a victim’s 18th birthday.