France’s Lyon diocese sacks four priests for sex abuse
on Jun 30, 2016 @ 11:10 AM
From the Link: http://www.globalpost.com/article/6779707/2016/06/30/frances-lyon-diocese-sacks-four-priests-sex-abuse
Four priests of the Catholic diocese of Lyon in eastern France have been relieved of their duties for sexual abuse, a diocesan source said Thursday.
A panel of experts recommended the measure, the source added, declining to say whether the clerics had already been named since the diocese’s predator priest scandal came to light in March, rocking France’s Catholic Church.
French judicial authorities are aware of all four dossiers, the source said.
The dismissals come three weeks after Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, the archbishop of Lyon, was questioned by police over allegations that he covered up the sexual abuse of boy scouts.
One of France’s most powerful Catholic leaders, Barbarin has been accused of failing to remove a priest, Bernard Preynat, from his diocese when he became aware the man had sexually abused young boys 25 years ago.
Preynat was relieved of his duties last year.
Pope Francis issued a decree early in June that senior Catholic officials guilty of negligence in child abuse cases can now be dismissed from office.
The nine-member expert panel — which included a psychiatrist, a psychoanalyst, a doctor and Church legal expert — also recommended that the diocese keep an eye on other priests who have already been investigated.
Several other members of the Lyon diocese have already been questioned by investigators and several police raids have been carried out at the archbishop’s office.
Barbarin had said in April that he would reveal the panel’s conclusions by the end of June.
He said the members were tasked with “studying and analysing the cases of certain priests whose situation is problematic in terms of their pastoral activity, civil or Church law in the affective and sexual domain.”
The panel, which also includes a lay woman and man, both of whom are parents, has met seven times.
Parish priest dismissed over ”immoral” contact with child
From the Link: http://www.thenews.pl/1/9/Artykul/259645,Parish-priest-dismissed-over-immoral-contact-with-child
The bishop of Płock, central Poland, has dismissed a parish priest in the village of Szreńsk, over “immoral actions” with a child.
The priest was suspended from his duties, a spokesperson with the Diocesan Curia in Płock, Elżbieta Grzybowska, said.
According to an official statement issued by the curia, the priest himself admitted guilt to the bishop.
“We express deep sorrow over the depraved action and the harm done,” the statement reads.
The parents, who have accepted the curia’s offer of legal and psychological assistance, will press charges against the priest.
Fort Worth Diocese Interrogated Sex Abuse Victim and His Mother in a Starbucks: Lawsuit
From the Link: http://www.dallasobserver.com/news/fort-worth-diocese-interrogated-sex-abuse-victim-and-his-mother-in-a-starbucks-lawsuit-7139543
By 2013, the stories of child molestation in the Catholic church, along with the archdiocese’s attempts to sweep the allegations under the rug, were old news. In that year alone, sex abuse cases cost the Catholic church $108,954,109, according to a report by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. The bishops acknowledged the church’s failings and laid out a series of recommendations to prevent more abuse and abuse cover-ups. “We pledge that we will work toward healing and reconciliation for those sexually abused by clerics,” they wrote.
But that same year, the Fort Worth Diocese was working to cover up a new claim of sexual abuse, a lawsuit filed this week claims. The man identified in court documents only as John Doe 117 says he was the victim of sadistic “punishment” by Father John H. Sutton when he was a student at Wichita Falls’ Notre Dame Middle-High School in the early 1990s.
Sutton, who died in 2004, was employed by the Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth as the school’s Chaplain, confessor and a history teacher. During a 7th grade history class, Sutton accused Doe of copying an assignment from an encyclopedia, Doe claims. For “penance,” Sutton ordered the boy to pray in the chapel during his lunch hour. Soon, Sutton would look for Doe in the lunchroom multiple times each week, the suit claims, and escort him to the chapel.
In the chapel, Sutton stood over Doe while he knelt in payer, and then began groping him, Doe says. The assaults escalated, the suit says, and eventually Sutton was raping Doe with sex toys that he kept in a black bag:
Doe also recalls hearing the sound of a camera clicking during some incidents of abuse. Sutton even stuffed a towel in Doe’s mouth to prevent his uncontrollable agonizing screams from being heard. “Shut up,” Sutton threatened the child, “or it will be worse.”
Doe claims Sutton also threatened him that “I have the power to ruin your life.” Doe was later accused of selling LSD at school — a charge he says was brought on in retaliation for hinting to another faculty member that Sutton had been abusing him. He says the abuse lasted two years.
In 2013, the victim was a grown man living in Washington when, he says, he had a nervous breakdown. Suffering flashbacks from his abuse, he decided to talk to the Catholic Diocese. Fort Worth’s Catholic Diocese acknowledges this much in a statement released to the media, the only comment they agreed to make about the case:
The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth was contacted by a former student of Notre Dame Catholic School in Wichita Falls. The former student made allegations of sexual abuse by a deceased priest, Father John H. Sutton. The Diocese offered and provided professional personal counseling and pastoral support to the former student.
Doe spoke to Fort Worth’s victim assistance coordinator over the course of a year and began going to therapy. Finally, by September 2014, Fort Worth Diocese Bishop Michael Olson agreed to fly to Spokane, Washington to meet with the alleged victim. Olson requested they meet in a Starbucks, the suit claims, and asked if it was okay if he brought along a volunteer. Doe agreed to the conditions.
It wasn’t until recently that Doe discovered the volunteer was also a Fort Worth police officer, the suit says. During the meeting, Olson agreed to be recorded. “At a busy local Starbucks, after giving in that very public place an emotionally grueling recorded account of the sexual assaults and abuses by Father Sutton,” the suit says, “Doe asked Bishop Olson to go to Mass with him and pray with him …” But Olson refused to pray with the victim afterward, the suit says, making the excuse that he was too busy.
Olson also asked to meet with Doe’s mother, separately, again in a Starbucks. While there, they also asked her to recount her son’s allegations of sex abuse. “They did not tell her that she was being recorded secretly, a criminal violation of Washington State law,” the suit claims. According to the lawsuit, the likely purpose of the recordings was to get a statement from the victim without an attorney present and to lull him into thinking the church was investigating his allegations while the statute of limitations ran out.
John Doe is asking for $1 million. The Catholic Diocese of Fort Worth’s statement to the media doesn’t address the allegations that the victim and his mother were recorded in a Starbucks. The spokeswoman says church officials did all they could to find more victims of Sutton. In early 2014, she says, Olson and other Diocesan officials visited “all parishes in the Wichita Falls area which had students at Notre Dame School during the tenure of Father Sutton. At the end of each of the Masses, the Diocese announced the allegations and formally asked for victims to contact the Diocese and civil authorities. ”
Editorial: Gallup Diocese re-abuses victims with settlement
Friday, July 22nd, 2016 at 12:02am
From the Link: http://www.abqjournal.com/812414/gallup-diocese-reabuses-victims-with-settlement.html
The Diocese of Gallup drives a hard bargain – one in which truth is a casualty.
In the case of the $21 million settlement to victims of priest sexual abuse it’s a deal that essentially re-abuses the victims by making them fear they might lose their hard-fought settlements if they reveal details of their abuse. In one case, a victim was so afraid of court sanctions he did not dare to look at the one record that pertained to his abuse.
The court-approved settlement agreement allows a victim just a one-time “eyes only” access to a single file pertaining to that victim’s abuser. It strictly prohibits sharing or duplicating the password-protected electronic contents, which will be destroyed after a year.
The diocese threatened to withdraw the settlement when attorneys for the victims sought to have the church publicly release personnel files of accused priests.
Such a bully tactic certainly seems to indicate a lack of contrition. But it appears to be business as usual for the church, whose leadership for years kept hidden from its faithful members the abuse visited on innocent children by some clergy.
Santa Fe Archbishop John Wester, whose areas of oversight includes the Gallup Diocese and who has said he won’t tolerate abuse, should use his influence to correct this poor treatment of past victims.
The church routinely stakes out what it believes is the high moral ground on issues ranging from abortion to immigration to end of life. That’s not the case when it comes to the past misdeeds of its clergy and the impact on finances. Its position on these records shows that maintaining secrecy about abuse and how it was handled are its top priorities.
US prosecutor may seek racketeering suit in Pa. clergy abuse
ASSOCIATED PRESS APRIL 03, 2016
PITTSBURGH — A federal prosecutor may file a racketeering lawsuit against a Roman Catholic diocese where a state grand jury found two former bishops helped cover up the sexual abuse of hundreds of children by more than 50 clergy over a 40-year period.
The ongoing investigation of the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese grew out of the prosecution of the Rev. Joseph Maurizio Jr., US Attorney David Hickton said Friday.
The 71-year-old Somerset County priest was convicted last year of molesting two street children during missionary trips to Honduras. He was sentenced to nearly 17 years in prison, fined $50,000, and forced to pay his victims $10,000 each.
Hickton said the ongoing investigation concerns whether diocesan officials engaged in a pattern of criminal activity that would fall under the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act, commonly referred to as RICO.
The statute of limitations has lapsed on criminal racketeering charges, but there is no time limit for filing a RICO civil lawsuit, Hickton said. KDKA-TV first reported that Hickton was considering such a lawsuit. A diocesan spokesman did not immediately comment.
‘‘The remedy that would be available under a civil RICO would be some sort of injunctive relief,’’ Hickton said. ‘‘If we were able to get a consent decree, that would be one route.’’
Injunctive relief, in this case, would be a court order requiring the diocese to take certain actions. A consent decree is a voluntary agreement between prosecutors and a target that certain reforms would be enacted.
A grand jury, in a report released last month, was especially critical of Bishops James Hogan and Joseph Adamec. Hogan, who headed the diocese from 1966 to 1986, died in 2005. Adamec, who succeeded him, retired in 2011.
The grand jury found Hogan, in particular, held sway over police and prosecutors in the diocese and often reassigned priests accused of molesting children instead of removing them from duty. Adamec threatened accusers with excommunication and generally worked harder to hide or settle abuse allegations than to discipline the priests accused, the grand jury found.
An attorney for Adamec denied wrongdoing and said 14 priests accused of molestation under Adamec’s watch were given psychiatric screenings. Nine were suspended or removed, and the five who were returned to ministry didn’t reoffend, Adamec’s attorney said.
Hickton won’t say what he believes church officials may have done wrong.
Kane’s report grew out of allegations that a Franciscan friar, who has since killed himself, molested dozens of students at a school in the diocese from 1992 to 2000.
Mitchell Garabedian, a Boston attorney who represented dozens of those victims, said he favors the RICO lawsuit even though many of his victims ‘‘would find incarceration for the supervisors more suitable.’’
‘‘I think the tactic is an approach that must be taken given the depth and scope of the supervisors enabling sexual abuse,’’ Garabedian said. If a consent decree is reached, ‘‘many victims would like to see a complete admission of guilt, and perhaps an independent supervisor appointed to review the activities of the diocese.’’
Bruce Antkowiak, a former federal prosecutor who now teaches law at St. Vincent College near Latrobe, said the RICO Act is used to target individuals who ‘‘operated or managed an enterprise through a pattern of racketeering activity.’’
To prove that, a prosecutor must show the target committed specific crimes listed in the act — including murder, extortion, and robbery. Mail fraud — essentially using the mail in any step of a fraud — or extortion are other RICO crimes that could conceivably relate.
According to the grand jury report, a whistle-blower accused Maurizio in 2009 of abusing the boys, and the diocese conducted its own investigation, including hiring a translator to review the victim’s claims.
Diocesan records ‘‘show a high-ranking Diocesan official concluding the alleged conduct was ‘impossible,’’’ the report said.
In Wake of Pennsylvania Charges, Abuse Spotlight Falls on Religious Orders
BY BRIAN FRAGA 07/22/2016
From the Link: http://www.ncregister.com/daily-news/in-wake-of-pennsylvania-charges-abuse-spotlight-falls-on-religious-orders
U.S.-based orders have undertaken widespread reforms, but criminal charges filed against three Franciscan friars for alleged supervisory failures of a known child molester indicate problems remain.
Since the sex-abuse crisis entered the national discussion in 2002, the bulk of the media attention has been on how individual Catholic dioceses have responded and the steps they have taken over the years to remove abusive clergy from ministry and protect minors and vulnerable people.
But this spring, a religious order put the spotlight on fresh concerns about Church handling of sexual abuse: Criminal charges were filed in Pennsylvania against three Franciscans friars, related to their roles in supervising a brother friar who was accused of molesting more than 100 children.
Though they have not garnered the same attention as dioceses until now, religious orders in the United States say they have also implemented new policies and practices over the past 14 years to hold abusive members in their communities accountable and protect victims.
“We were completely committed to the principle that no one who has been established as an abuser will ever practice a public ministry and certainly will not be in a position to have access to children, to youth and to vulnerable people,” said Capuchin Father John Pavlik, president of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, an association of the leadership of men in religious and apostolic institutes in the United States.
Father Pavlik told the Register that almost 90% of institutes representing approximately 17,000 men in religious life have gone through an independent accreditation process of their sexual-abuse prevention policies and practices. Father Pavlik said the institutes agree to be scrutinized by an outside firm because they want to follow the bishops’ example in protecting minors.
“The religious certainly wanted to be in the same place the bishops of the United States were when it came to promulgating safeguards that would seem to actually work to protect minors and youth and vulnerable people,” Father Pavlik said.
To perform public ministry, religious brothers, monks and priests are also required to abide by norms established by the local diocesan bishop. For example, a brother or friar who works in a parish or in other diocesan facilities must undergo the same sex-abuse prevention safety training as regular diocesan priests and lay personnel.
However, some observers note that the policies and practices, as well as the accreditation process, are still voluntary and not really enforceable, since the religious orders, including the individual provincial leaders, do not answer to each other.
“The bottom line is that they are completely independent from one another. It’s like herding cats. They all do what they want,” said Patrick Wall, a former Benedictine monk who investigates clergy sex abuse for victims and their lawyers.
Wall told the Register that he believes the orders have done a comparatively poor job of handling sex-abuse cases, and he said there is no real enforcement mechanism to ensure that provincial leaders do the right thing, apart from the civil and criminal courts.
The Pennsylvania Scandal
The criminal proceedings in western Pennsylvania, where the three Franciscan friars will stand trial for child endangerment and conspiracy charges, could serve as a cautionary tale.
The Pennsylvania grand jury that returned indictments against Fathers Giles Schinelli, Robert D’Aversa and Anthony Criscitelli concluded that the defendants, who headed the Third Order Regular Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception from 1986 to 2010, should have done more to protect minors from Brother Stephen Baker, who killed himself in January 2013 after he was accused of sexually abusing dozens of teens in at least three states.
Pennsylvania’s Attorney General Office — which released a scathing report earlier this year detailing decades of abuse in the Diocese of Altoona-Johnstown — is prosecuting the friars. News reports indicate that federal prosecutors are also considering filing racketeering charges against the diocese.
“This is a brand-new world where you have both state and federal authorities looking at the Franciscans and looking at the diocese, both, for allowing this to happen,” Wall said.
Father Pavlik said one of the most significant facts of the Pennsylvania grand-jury investigation to emerge thus far is that the TOR Franciscans had allowed their sex-abuse prevention accreditation to lapse.
Said Father Pavlik, “Why would you allow that to lapse, especially when you had people who had committed horrible crimes? You had people who were credibly accused. What were you thinking?
“You’ve got to ask the question: Why did they stop participating? I don’t know the answer to that question.”
The TOR Franciscans of the Province of the Immaculate Conception did not return a message seeking comment. In a March 15 statement, the province said it was “deeply saddened” to learn of the criminal charges.
“The province extends its most sincere apologies to the victims and to the communities who have been harmed,” the Franciscans said in the statement. The province also encouraged prayers “for healing and understanding and for all the priests and brothers who honor their vocations and the Church.”
If there is a weakness in the accrediting system, Father Pavlik said, it is that the accrediting agency, Texas-based Praesidium Inc., does not publicly report the religious institutes that have failed to be accredited or that have let their accreditation lapse.
“It seems to me that if there is a weakness somewhere in the system, it’s here,” Father Pavlik said. “If there is something that could be improved, it’d be some effort to know who isn’t accredited.”
Christy Schiller, vice president of religious services for Praesidium, told the Register that the TOR Franciscans of the Immaculate Conception Province were accredited in 2009. The accreditation lasted for three years, and the institute allowed the accreditation to lapse in 2012.
While Praesidium does not formally publish a list of institutes that are accredited or that have let their accreditations lapse, Schiller said the firm will provide that information to anyone who inquires.
“We’re happy to share that,” she said. “We can’t give any more details about the specifics of the institute because of the confidentiality clause in our contract. But a particular group’s status: That is information we’re willing to share.”
Many of the major religious orders in the United States are forthcoming if they have been accredited by Praesidium. On their websites, several orders post information about their accreditation. For example, the Society of Jesus says each province in the United States maintains Praesidium accreditation through periodic audits by independent auditors and ongoing training for each Jesuit to establish awareness, prevention and proper responses to allegations of sexual misconduct.
Christian Brother Timothy Coldwell, general councilor of the Institute of the Brothers of the Christian Schools, told the Register that the De La Salle Christian Brothers in the United States are also accredited by Praesidium.
“Meeting and complying to their standards of accreditation became our first and primary goal,” Brother Timothy said. “Every one of our districts (provinces) earned early accreditation, and each have maintained it to the present.”
In August 2002, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men unanimously approved the statement“Improving Pastoral Care and Accountability in Response to the Tragedy of Sexual Abuse.” That statement facilitated the framework for CMSM’s official response, which was entitled: “Instruments of Hope and Healing: Safeguarding Children and Young Adults.”
Father Pavlik said the religious orders’ leaders, including him, who gathered in August 2002, were “appalled” at the preponderance of evidence that pointed to priests and religious in the United States who had sexually abused minors over the course of several decades.
“We quickly formed relationships with some survivors,” Father Pavlik said. “When you listen to their stories, you actually become angry, upset and disturbed that people who were committed to doing good violated the innocence and goodness of vulnerable people.”
According to Praesidium, more than 130 religious institutes, representing 90% of order priests and brothers in the United States, have attained accreditation. The agency’s work has been presented to the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life at the Vatican.
While the vast majority of religious orders participate in the system, some observers point out that Church law does not compel the individual institutes to do so. Father Pavlik said he has personally appealed three times in the last five years to smaller institutes, which do not have the same financial resources as larger institutes, to become accredited. Father Pavlik said that is still no excuse for not seeking accreditation.
Said Father Pavlik, “From my point of view, you go out and creatively find a way to do this. This is the right thing to do. You have to stand with the rest of the Church.”
Praesidium’s “Standards for Accreditation” cover three main areas: prevention, response to abuse allegations and supervision of offenders. Prevention standards review how new members are screened, educational programs for initial and ongoing formation, systems of support and accountability and how the institute manages internal reports of potential boundary violations.
Responding standards review the institute’s response to reports of suspected abuse and the role of external review boards, while supervision standards review the management and supervision of a member who is known to have abused a minor.
Unlike U.S. dioceses, religious orders allow some members with substantiated allegations against them to remain in community, with restrictions — known as safety plans — that depend on the seriousness of the incidents and on their evaluations.
“We agreed to supervise those who were credibly accused. We set up stringent requirements for what the supervision amounts to, and every institute that agreed to do this for its members has to always be vigilant to make sure it is maintaining what it promised,” Father Pavlik said, adding that the religious orders also created an independent review board that annually reviews the safety plan. Praesidium evaluators visit the institutes to review the safety plans and speak with the supervisors and the members under supervision.
“Obviously, the people responsible have to be deeply committed to the concept that protecting children is an absolute good that cannot be compromised in any way,” Father Pavlik said. “They have to hold themselves accountable to what is required. If you do that, you will see that the statistics show we have an overwhelmingly high successful rate of preventing recidivism.”
Brother Timothy said a brother who has admitted to his offense or has had a credible accusation against him is allowed to live only in the community assigned by the provincial, or in another appropriate supervised place of residence where there is no unsupervised contact with minors or vulnerable adults.
“No separate apartment, private home or other domicile is allowed as a permanent residence for the brother offender,” said Brother Timothy, adding that communities that house a “high-risk” brother are visited by outside auditors at least once a year on an unannounced basis to ensure consistent implementation of safety-plan protocols.
“High-risk brothers will be evaluated on the basis of current empirical research,” Brother Timothy said. “The auditors will document the visits of outside auditors. Communities that are found to be out of compliance with the safety plan for a ‘high-risk’ brother will be re-visited within the next 30 days. It is understood that continued noncompliance with safety plans will result in the loss of accreditation.”
But the dynamics of living in a religious community, where one’s colleague one day can be his provincial in a few years, can cut both ways, said Terry McKiernan, of BishopAccountability.org, which tracks clergy sex abuse and bishops’ handling of those cases.
Said McKiernan, “The close-knit character of religious life, where you’re all living together in community, which of course goes back to St. Benedict and beyond, is really a distinctive and important feature of religious life. It’s also in some way a distinct disadvantage when it comes to the abuse crisis. It makes it harder for the provincial to say, ‘You’re my brother, but I have to hand you over to the police.’”
McKiernan and Wall both described a decades-long pattern where religious orders, in dealing with accused abusers, would transfer alleged perpetrators to different provinces as well as institutes in other countries where the orders were present. In his old monastery, Wall recalled seeing accused monks transferred to the Bahamas, Japan and Rome.
“With the modern religious orders, you will see the provincials change every six years,” Wall said. “What they’ll do is get [the accused religious] out of the zone of scandal, make a whole bunch of promises and never follow through on them.”
Like Wall, McKiernan believes the example of the Third Order Regular Franciscans will be a motivating factor for religious superiors moving forward to walk the straight and narrow on sex-abuse cases.
“Any provincial who has to make a decision about a priest, a monk or a brother is going to think about the Third Order Regular Franciscans,” McKiernan said. “They don’t want that to happen to them. I think it’s really going to change behavior.”
The first and primary lesson of the Third Order Regular Franciscans, Brother Timothy said, is self-scrutiny.
Said Brother Timothy, “Namely, we must continually ask ourselves, ‘Are we transparent in all that concerns our life as men and women who consecrate our lives to God for people, especially young people?’ The key lesson is that it is not enough to be accountable before God — we must be accountable to God’s people.”
Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author
Hunter Catholic priests’ alleged sexual relationship used by a child sex offender priest, says author
22 Jul 2016, 4 p.m
From the Link: http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4010363/sadistic-priest-protected-his-position-victim/
SADISTIC Catholic paedophile priest John Denham committed crimes against boys without fear of exposure because of an alleged sexual relationship between Catholic priests Tom Brennan and Patrick Helferty, writes a former St Pius X, Adamstown student in an explosive new book.
Denham “protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers”, writes James Miller in his book, The Priests, in which he alleges he was sexually abused by Brennan in 1978 when he was 15.
Mr Miller has called for Catholic schools funding to be stopped until the celibacy rule for priests is removed, saying the celibacy vow poses a blackmail risk because of the church’s structures relating to schools.
Studies suggesting up to 50 per cent of Catholic priests break their vows because of sexual relationships with men or women, or sexual abuse of children, mean “every second priest is living a life of deceit, with the other probably aware”, Mr Miller said.
“This systemic dishonesty makes the church unfit to care for children. With so many clergy compromised where is the moral authority to act when confronted with evidence of abuse within a Catholic school?
“How can a compromised bishop be trusted to report offenders to authorities if the offender can destroy the bishop’s career by publishing details of a secret and longstanding affair with a mistress?”
In his book, released on Monday, Mr Miller writes that he was sexually abused by Brennan while a year 10 student at St Pius X and after transferring from Belmont High School.
He alleges Brennan told him: “There is nothing wrong with what we are doing. But some people just won’t understand. It’d be bad for you.”
“It was as if I was his young boyfriend,” Mr Miller writes.
In the book Mr Miller writes that the abuse had a profoundly negative impact on his life. Although he went on to become a Newcastle University law academic, commercial barrister and author, Mr Miller writes about drinking, self harm, suicide attempts, destruction of relationships and homelessness he links directly to abuse.
“I became more or less constantly angry on the inside. Something was definitely broken,” he writes.
In The Priests Miller writes that nearly 40 years after the abuse he discovered Brennan and Helferty were “lifetime lovers”.
This week he stood by the controversial allegation, saying he relied on evidence contained in his civil action against the church which he declined to make public because it has not yet been put to Maitland-Newcastle diocese.
Rumours of the men’s sexual relationship were raised with the Newcastle Herald by others a number of years ago. Witnesses at Helferty’s funeral described Brennan as a sobbing and devastated man grieving for a dead partner, and not a calm Catholic priest celebrating a soul’s elevation to heaven.
While Brennan’s sister-in-law Patricia Brennan said on Wednesday that she had “never heard such rubbish in all my life” and she was “very proud of the fact” she was the late priest’s sister-in-law, former St Pius X teacher Bill Izzard said “I’d give that quite a bit of credence”.
“I wouldn’t say no to that one. I would form the view the bloke’s telling the truth,” Izzard said.
A Maitland-Newcastle diocese spokesperson declined to respond to questions about the allegation that Brennan and Helferty had a sexual relationship. The spokesperson said the diocese would not make public details about victims of child abuse but “respects their right to disclose aspects of their personal narrative as they choose”.
In The Priests Miller argues Brennan did nothing because Denham knew of his relationship with Helferty, when it was still dangerously illegal to be an active homosexual in Australia, and when the Catholic Church not only damned homosexuality as an abomination, but demanded the complete suppression of sexual impulses from its priests. The celibacy rule also leaves priests and bishops in clandestine relationships with women at risk of blackmail within the church, Miller said.
“Denham had the senior leadership of St Pius X right where he wanted them,” he writes.
“Denham protected his position by threatening to reveal Brennan and Helferty as homosexual lovers. I would go further and say that whether he ever actually put the specific threat counts for naught. It would have been enough that Brennan and Helferty believed Denham would do so.”
Denham was approached for comment but did not respond to written questions.
Solicitor representing many victims of church abuse, Dr Judy Courtin, said celibacy was a child protection risk.
“A spiteful nature combined with some serious dirt on a fellow clergyman, can make a powerful weapon with which to demand silence all round. Such silence can only enable the commission of child sex crimes,” Dr Courtin said.
University of Sydney child protection specialist and law Professor Patrick Parkinson said celibacy was a child protection risk because some men who abused children did so because their vows prevented them from having relationships with adults, so they became “situational” abusers.
“If you are a religious Brother, you’re lonely and your context is teaching in a boys’ school, that’s where you go find it,” Professor Parkinson said.
He said all the evidence was that celibacy was “a hard road to follow”. There were credible reports of 50 per cent of bishops and priests breaking their vows which potentially compromised them within the church.
He rejected the argument that Catholic schools funding should cease until the celibacy vow is removed, saying the school context had changed significantly in the past 40 years, particularly priests’ interaction with children.
“Funding issues should be made on legitimate criteria and the celibacy of priests is not legitimate criteria,” Professor Parkinson said.
Australian Catholic University Professor Neil Ormerod said breaching celibacy could compromise priests and could pose a child protection risk, but there were more significant reasons why the church should reconsider the celibacy vow based on the mental wellbeing of priests.
“There are many reasons why the church might reconsider the whole issue of celibacy, and the ones around abuse are not the only ones. Many priests never mature as psycho-sexual beings and that is a cause of many difficulties,” Professor Ormerod said.
He rejected the argument for stopping Catholic schools funding because of the child protection risk posed by celibacy, saying it might have been a valid argument 30 years ago but was not today.
In public and reported comments Pope Francis has said he favoured retaining the celibacy rule although “it is a matter of discipline, not of faith. It can change”.
The issue of married priests was in his “diary”, the Pope is reported saying.
Editorial: Rep. Rozzi, HB 1947 not going away
The Archdiocese of Philadelphia is learning that while a key aspect of House Bill 1947 might be going away, its biggest booster is not.
State Rep. Mark Rozzi, D-126, of Berks County, the man who authored the controversial language in the bill that would have retroactively extended the window for victims of child sexual abuse that occurred decades ago to sue the molesters and those that employed them, took his case to the church this week.
Rozzi knows a little something about the church and sexual abuse. He was an altar boy and a victim decades ago. Now he’s a state representative.
His colleagues in the House gave HB 1947 a stunning, resounding victory in a 190-15 vote to extend the age when victims could sue their tormentors and those who employed them or enabled them from age 30 to age 50.
Gov. Tom Wolf indicated he supported the controversial language in the bill, which would also lift the statute of limitations for criminal charges in such cases. Wolf said if it wound up on his desk, he would sign it.
The bill then went to the Senate. That’s when opponents of the measure, most notably the Catholic Church, in particular the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, rolled up their sleeves and went to work.
Archbishop Charles Chaput sent a letter that was either read or mentioned at every Mass in every parish in the archdiocese. Chaput did not mince words, characterizing the legislation as no less than an attack on the church. He urged parishioners to contact their state senator and oppose the measure, in large part because of a belief that it would treat victims of public institutions differently unfairly than those of private institutions, and questioning the constitutionality of the retroactive language that had been penned by Rozzi.
Several members of the Delaware County House delegation found themselves feeling heat, both from the archdiocese and their local parish priests. State Rep. Nick Miccarelli, R-162, of Ridley Park actually had his name casually dropped in the parish bulletin with a friendly reminder to the faithful that he had supported the bill.
The church, clearly taken aback by the surprising approval in the House of an idea that had long been opposed in Harrisburg, was not taking any chances. It put on a full-court press, making a passionate argument against retroactivity in a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Its prayers were answered. The bill passed the Senate, but only after the language that would allow past victims to file suit was modified. Victims would have until age 50 to file civil actions against their molesters, but only in cases that occurred after the bill becomes law. It’s not back in the House.
The latest battle over such legislation was fueled by still another damning grand jury report, this time from the Johnstown-Altoona archdiocese.
An outraged Rozzi led the charge to give past victims their day in court. And he has no intention of stopping now, despite the setback in the House.
The state rep stood on the steps of the Basilica of SS. Peter & Paul, the downtown headquarters of the archdiocese, and tossed copies of grand jury reports of sexual abuse by priests. He vowed to rewrite the House bill and once again include a two-year window for past victims to file suit.
“One of my main messages today was it’s not over by any means,” Rozzi said. “For over 50 years, this institution, the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, and its leadership, the archbishops and in fact all Roman Catholic dioceses across the state of Pennsylvania believed they were above the law, that they didn’t have to abide by our laws. And now they hide behind our laws.”
Of course, state representatives don’t have that luxury. They now are wearing a bull’s eye and no doubt will feel the heat once again generated by those who oppose Rozzi’s plan, most notably the archdiocese, the National Catholic Conference and the insurance industry.
Rozzi, who said he was motivated to visit the basilica because of Chaput’s opposition to his bill, was joined by several activists as well as Marci Hamilton, a lawyer who has represented clergy abuse victims. She urged elected to “start representing the common good,” while reminding those gathered – and those not in attendance – of the separation of church and state.
“They’re supposed to serve the people, and not just one set of wealthy religious lobbyists,” she said.
Rozzi said he would re-introduce his legislation in the fall, including the push to once again allow those abused decades to seek their day in court today.
The sides in this epic battle have been clearly defined, with Rozzi, other victims and their advocates on one side, and the church on the other. In the middle will be state House members, wrestling with a most prickly legal and societal issue at the very time they are campaigning for re-election.
The fight over House Bill 1947 is not over, not by a long shot.
Mark Rozzi is not going away. If nothing else, he made that crystal clear this week.
Mountain Home priest arrested on sexual abuse of a vulnerable adult
MOUNTAIN HOME, Idaho (News Release) – A Mountain Home priest is accused of sexual abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, according to the Mountain Home News.
Mountain Home Police arrested Victor F. Jagerstatter, 39, Friday for sexual abuse and exploitation of a vulnerable adult, according to a news release.
This investigation is on-going, and no more information will be released at this time.
Anyone with questions about this case, may contact the Elmore County Prosecutor’s Office at 208-587-2144.
Police told CBS affiliate KBOI 2News that Jagerstatter will be arraigned in Elmore County court on Monday.
Officials reached could not confirm if this Victor F. Jagerstatter is the same man who is a Roman Catholic priest for Our Lady of Good Counsel in Mountain Home, Our Lady of Limerick in Glenns Ferry, St. Bridget in Bruneau and St. Henry’s Catholic Church in Grandview. A picture of Jagerstatter is listed on the Roman Catholic Diocese website.