Category Archives: James Salt
8 Ugly Sins of the Catholic Church
If pedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you the Catholic leadership is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins.
Did the Catholic Bishops wince last week when their leader, anti-contraception Cardinal Timothy Dolan, was exposed for paying pedophiles to disappear? One can only hope. After all, these are men who claim to speak for God. They have direct access to the White House, where they regularly weigh in on issues ranging from military policy to bioethics, and they expect us all to listen – not because of relevant expertise or elected standing, but because of their moral authority.
If pedophile payouts weren’t enough to convince you that this “moral” authority is often anything but moral, take a look at some of their other sins against compassion and basic decency.
1. Excommunicating doctors and nuns for saving lives. In 2009, a 27-year-old mom, pregnant with her fifth child, was rushed to a Phoenix hospital, St. Josephs, where her doctors said she would almost certainly die unless her pregnancy was aborted immediately. The nun in charge approved the emergency procedure, and the woman survived. The local bishop promptly excommunicated the nun. “There are some situations where the mother may in fact die along with her child. But — and this is the Catholic perspective — you can’t do evil to bring about good. The end does not justify the means,” said Rev. John Ehrich, the medical ethics director for the Diocese of Phoenix.
How far are the Church authorities willing to take this “moral” logic? In Brazil last year, with Vatican backing, the Church excommunicated a mother and doctor for saving the life of a 9-year-old rape victim who was pregnant with twins. (At four months pregnant, the girl weighed 80 pounds.) Cardinal Giovanni Batista Re, who heads the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, said “life must always be protected.” Perhaps Mr. Batista Re can explain the Vatican’s 1,500-year tradition of “just war.”
2. Protecting even non-Catholic sex-offenders against child victims. As we have seen, the moral priorities of the bishops are laid naked when they decide who to excommunicate and who not. The doctor and the mother of the pregnant 9-year-old got the boot for approving an abortion, but not the stepfather who had sexually assaulted the child, probably over a period of years. A similar contrast can be seen between the case of the Phoenix nun and hundreds of pedophile priests who were allowed to remain Catholic even after they finally were identified and removed from the Church payrolls.
It gets worse. In New York, a bill that would give child molestation victims more time to file charges has been blocked seven times by the Catholic hierarchy led by none other than Cardinal Dolan. Why? “We feel this is terribly unjust, we feel it singles out the church, and it would be devastating for the life of the church.” In other words, regardless of whether the abuse really happened or what the consequences were for victims, what matters is how much additional lawsuits might cost the Church. Isn’t that the ends justifying the means?
3. Using churches to organize gay haters. When the Washington State legislature approved marriage equality this spring, fundamentalist Christians across the state organized to reverse the legislation. Even though three quarters of American Catholics think that gay marriage or civil unions should be legal, Archbishop Peter Sartain jumped to the front of the pack, decreeing that Western Washington parishes under his “moral authority” should gather signatures for an anti-equality initiative. To their credit, a number of priests refused, and a group called Catholics for Marriage Equality is raising money for ads. In contrast to the Catholic League, which has made the degrading argument that sex between priests and adolescent boys is consensual homosexuality, lay Catholics appear to know the difference.
4. Lying about contraceptives to poor Africans. Of all the mortal sins committed by the men of the cloth, the most devastatingly lethal in the last 30 years has been the Catholic hierarchy’s outspoken opposition to condom use in Africa. In 2003, the president of the Vatican’s Pontifical Council for the Family publicly lied about the efficacy of condoms in preventing both pregnancy and HIV: “The AIDS virus is roughly 450 times smaller than the spermatozoon. The spermatozoon can easily pass through the ‘net’ that is formed by the condom.” The archbishop of Nairobi told people that condoms were spreading HIV. Some priests told parishioners that condoms were impregnated with the virus.
The motivation for such flagrant falsehoods? The Church has practiced competitive pro-natalism for centuries, but lately anti-contraceptive edicts have been ignored by most educated European and American Catholics, and Italy has the second lowest birthrate in the Western World, at 1.3 per woman. The bishops see this as a “catastrophe” and are looking to Africa as “a reservoir of life for the Church.” They wrap their opposition to contraception in lofty moral language such as that offered by Pope John Paul II: It seems profoundly damaging to the dignity of the human being, and for this reason morally illicit, to support a prevention of AIDS that is based on a recourse to means and remedies that violate an authentically human sense of sexuality. As late as 2009, John Paul’s successor, Benedict, continued to tell poor African Catholics that condoms were “wrong” and even suggested that they were making the epidemic worse. With god-knows –how-many lives lost and children orphaned, he finally softened his stance in 2010.
5. Obstructing patient access to accurate information and services in secular hospitals. In rural Arizona near the Mexican border, women delivering babies by cesarean section were refused tubal ligations because their independent hospital was negotiating a merger with a healthcare network run by Catholics. Worse, when a woman arrived at the same hospital in the middle of a miscarriage and need a surgical abortion to complete the process, she was forced to travel by ambulance to Tucson, 80 miles away, risking hemorrhage on the way. All over the U.S. secular and Catholic-run health systems are merging, and patients are quietly losing the right to make medical decisions based on the best scientific information available and the dictates of their own conscience.
Even when the Catholic-owned hospital is a small part of the merger, administrators insist that Catholic directives apply to the system as a whole. These directives prohibit not only abortions but also contraceptives, vasectomies and tubal ligations, some kinds of fertility treatment, and compliance with end-of-life patient directives. Ectopic pregnancies cannot be handled in keeping with the medical standard of care. As biotechnologies and treatments relevant to the beginning and end of life advance, we can expect the list to grow longer. Patients cannot trust that they will be told other options are available elsewhere.
One of the bitter ironies here is that even wholly “Catholic” hospitals and charities are staffed primarily by non-Catholics and largely provide services to people of other faiths or of none, paid for with tax dollars. In healthcare much of the money flows from Medicare and Medicaid. In 2010, non-medical affiliates of Catholic Charities received 62 percent of annual revenue from the taxpayers – nearly $2.9 billion. Only 3 percent came from church donations, with the remainder coming from investments, program fees, community donations and in-kind contributions. And yet all of those dollars get directed according to the dictates of bishop conscience rather than individual conscience.
6. Slapping down nuns. Catholic charities and hospitals are at some competitive advantage in part because of hard-working nuns, many of whom have skills and responsibilities that exceed their compensation. The bishops are the Catholic Church’s 1 percent; the nuns are managers and service workers –and many have taken the kind of poverty vows that America’s 1 percent is trying to impose on the rest. Because many nuns live in the real world, where suffering and morality are complex, they often make care-based decisions and take nuanced positions on moral questions that the Council of Bishops resolves by appealing to dogma and authority.
In April, the Vatican decided to remind the nuns who’s on top. Rome issued an 8-page assessment accusing the Leadership Conference of Women Religious of disagreeing with the bishops and of “radical feminism.” It appears that their labors on behalf of poor, vulnerable people had distracted them from a more Christian priority: controlling other people’s sex lives—oh, and standing up against the ordination of women. The Archbishop assigned by the Vatican to rein in unruly American nuns is none other than Peter Sartain of Seattle, the same moral authority who has declared a holy crusade against gay marriage.
7. Bullying girl scouts. Unlike the Boy Scouts, who recently earned media and public attention by booting out a gay den-mother, the Girl Scouts have been stubbornly inclusive and focused on preparing girls for leadership. For example, last year a Colorado troop included a trans-gender 7-year-old. That’s a problem for the Bishops, and since up to a quarter of American Girl Scouts are Catholic kids with troops housed in churches, they see it as their problem. To make matters worse, the American Girl Scouts refused to leave their international umbrella, the World Association of Girl Guides and Girl Scouts, which has stated that young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.” The World Association would appear to believe the data that girls who can’t manage their sexuality and fertility are more likely to end up in poverty than leadership positions.
Then again, maybe that’s what the church hierarchy is after. According to an article last month at the Huffington Post, “The new inquiry will be conducted by the bishops’ Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth. It will look into the Scouts’ ‘possible problematic relationships with other organizations’ and various ‘problematic’ program materials, according to a letter sent by the committee chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, Ind., to his fellow bishops.” We’re talking about an organization run by women for girls facing an all-male inquisition. In today’s Catholic church, leadership still requires a y chromosome.
8. Purging popular and scholarly interfaith bridge builders. Lest some reader assert that the sins of the Bishops are all a consequence of sexual repression – some contorted pursuit of sexual purity that degrades both sex and compassion—it is important to note that the current cohort of Church authorities are as obsessed with doctrinal purity as sexual purity. It would take me many paragraphs to describe their tireless pursuit of purity as well as retired Anglican bishop, John Shelby Spong, does in one:
Hans Kung, probably the best read theologian of the 20th century, was removed from his position as a Catholic theologian at Tubingen because his mind could not be twisted into the medieval concepts required by his church. This action was carried out by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, who at that time under Pope John Paul II held the office that in another time gave us the Inquisition. Matthew Fox, one of the most popular retreat and meditation leaders and an environmental activist, was then silenced by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Professor Charles Curran, one of America’s best known ethicists, was removed from his tenured professorship at Catholic University in Washington, D.C., also by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Father Leonardo Boff, the best known Latin American liberation theologian, was forced to renounce his ordination in order to continue his work for justice among the poor of Latin America by the same Cardinal Ratzinger. Next we learn that the Vatican, now headed by Cardinal Ratzinger under his new name Pope Benedict XVI, has ordered the removal of a book from all Catholic schools and universities written by a popular female theologian at Fordham University, Sister Elizabeth A. Johnson. Now the nuns are to be investigated. Conformity trumps truth in every direction.
The Catholic tradition defines deadly or “cardinal” sins as those from which all other sins derive. In addition to lust, gluttony, wrath, sloth and envy, the traditional seven include pride and greed, which, to my mind, drive much of the appalling behavior in this list. If an attempt to assert autocratic control over the spiritual and physical lives of lay people isn’t pride, I don’t know what is. And if a willingness to silence child victims to protect church assets isn’t greed, I don’t know what greed is. The BBC’s revelation last month of money laundering in the Vatican Bank pales by comparison.
To me, ultimately, the sins of the Catholic bishops are “deadly sins” because they kill people, whether pregnant mothers or depressed gay teens or African families, or simply desperate people who are forced into greater desperation by “moral” priorities that distract from real questions of well-being and harm.
What the Bishops will have to account for when they meet their maker, none of us can say. For some American Catholics, the process of holding them to account has already started. The Women Religious have pushed back against the condescending “assessment” issued by the Vatican. Small groups of lay Catholics have rallied to their support. Picketers meet monthly outside Sartain’s cathedral to protest his stance against equality. The Franciscan brothers issued a statement of solidarity with the nuns, many of whom have remained solidly focused on economic justice instead of sexual transgressions.
Given the arrogant cruelty of Church leaders, criticism to date has been remarkably tempered. As the Bishops flash their moral authority in the White House and media and pulpit, clothed in white robes and draped in crimson, they should be glad they aren’t eyeball to eyeball with Jesus himself. As the writer of Matthew tells it, he called out the corrupt religious leaders of his day in no uncertain terms: Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of dead men’s bones and everything unclean.
Valerie Tarico is a psychologist and writer in Seattle, Washington and the founder of Wisdom Commons. She is the author of “Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light” and “Deas and Other Imaginings.” Her articles can be found at Awaypoint.Wordpress.com.
Galway priest silenced by Vatican is set to return to public ministry
June 14, 2012 – 7:30am
By Bernie Ní Fhlatharta
A Galway Redemptorist priest who was silenced by the Vatican because of his criticisms of the Church in relation to their response to clerical sex abuse in Ireland will be returning to public ministry next week.
Fr Tony Flannery, who is based in the Redemptorist Monastery in Esker, will be welcomed back by his congregation and colleagues there on Tuesday with the start of the Order’s annual Novena.
Fr Flannery, along with two Redemptorist colleagues, Fr Brendan O’Rourke and Fr Patrick O’Keeffe, will be preaching at the Novena, which focuses on the virtues of living a good Christian life.
The Attymon native publicly supported Taoiseach Enda Kenny’s call in the Dáil for the Catholic Church to apologise for its handling of clerical sex abuse. Fr Flannery was a regular contributor to the Redemptorist magazine Reality, in which he aired his views and support of the Taoiseach.
Just before Easter, Fr Flannery was ordered to take time off for spiritual reflection, which he did. Part of that dictat was that he stop writing for Reality, after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith objected to some things he had written in various articles and on the Order’s website.
Following almost two months away from his ministry, negotiations with his Redemptorist superiors have led to his return.
This week, Fr Flannery told the Connacht Tribune that he was looking forward to returning to public ministry.
“I haven’t ministered since Easter but I will be returning next Tuesday on the first day of the Novena and I will be preaching at that every third day, alternating with my colleagues,” he said.
Wis archdiocese paid priests to leave ministry
MILWAUKEE — The Archdiocese of Milwaukee confirmed Wednesday that it had a policy to pay suspected pedophile priests to leave the ministry.
The acknowledgement was prompted by a document made public by abuse victims’ advocates from the archdiocese’s bankruptcy that references a 2003 proposal to pay $20,000 to “unassignable priests” who accepted a return to the laity. The policy was crafted under then-Archbishop Timothy Dolan, who is now a cardinal and head of the archdiocese in New York.
The Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests characterizes the payments as a payoff and bonuses to priests who molested children. The archdiocese disputes that characterization, saying the payments were in part to more quickly move those men out of the priesthood.
The group is calling on the archdiocese to release all records involving the payments and its handling of clergy sex abuse cases.
“You don’t give a bonus to a man who rapes children,” the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel quoted SNAP Midwest director Peter Isely as saying Wednesday outside the federal courthouse in Milwaukee. “If they paid them anything it should have been for therapy and counseling.”
According to the Journal Sentinel, the 2003 bankruptcy document appears to be the first public acknowledgement of a formal policy to pay trouble priests to leave.
Disputing that, archdiocese spokeswoman Julie Wolf told The Associated Press late Wednesday that both the payments and the policy regarding them had long been acknowledged by the archdiocese.
“It’s not new news,” she said.
“SNAP sounds like they’re saying these were kind of payoffs to priests who had substantial allegations against them,” Wolf added. She said the payments were to help the men transition to lay life without completely losing access to needs such as health care.
The Journal Sentinel article noted that Dolan used similar language in 2006 when he defended a payment to one former priest. A phone message seeking comment from the Archdiocese of New York late Wednesday was not returned.
Wolf also called the payments “a cost-savings for the archdiocese” because the process to involuntarily remove a priest is lengthy and involves Vatican approval.
The bankruptcy document highlighted by SNAP references a meeting of the archdiocese’s Finance Council in 2003 that included Dolan, who was then archbishop in Milwaukee.
According to the document, members discussed offering “unassignable priests” $20,000 to accept the process known as laicization.
Associated Press writer M. David Nichols contributed to this report from Chicago.
Veteran clergy sex abuse victim advocate Joey Piscitelli describes ordeal concerning the credibility of Cardinal Levada and the Diocese of San Francisco.
Ex-priest James Patrick Jennings is ordered to stand
trial in Melbourne
In the mid and late 1960s, Father James Patrick Jennings was listed as a priest at St Vincent’s College — a Catholic boarding school for boys in Bendigo, 150 kilometres north of Melbourne. Father Jennings was then a member of the Vincentian religious order (this order is also called the Congregation of the Mission).
More than 40 years later, in May 2012, Jennings was charged in the Bendigo Magistrates Court with a series of child-sex offences, allegedly committed against boys at the school in the 1960s.
James Jennings, aged 79 when charged in court, faces multiple charges of gross indecency and indecent assault on a male child aged under 16. The charges relate to three complainants, all students at this Bendigo school in the 1960s.
Magistrate Jennifer Tregent heard evidence concerning the three complainants.
The court also heard from Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Morris, head of the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team (SOCIT) at Bendigo Police. Senior Sergeant Morris received some information from a New South Wales police unit (Strike Force Belle), which was established to investigate allegations of sexual assaults on students at St Stanislaus College in Bathurst in central-west NSW. The Bathurst school was run by the same order of priests as St Vincent’s in Bendigo.
The court was told that James Jennings left the priesthood many years ago and he now lives in Tasmania.
On 8 May 2012, after a two-day preliminary hearing, the Bendigo magistrate ordered James Patrick Jennings to stand trial in a higher court on these charges. The magistrate listed the case for a later date in the Melbourne County Court, where initially a judge would have a brief “directions hearing” (to determine when and how the subsequent hearings would be held).
Jennings’ bail was extended pending the Melbourne County Court proceedings.
Meanwhile, the Sexual Offences and Child Abuse Investigation Team at Bendigo (telephone 03 5448 1420) is continuing its inquiries.
St Vincent’s College was set up in Bendigo in 1955 and was run by the Vincentian Fathers. In 1977, it was taken over by the Marist Brothers. In 1983 this school then became part of Catholic College Bendigo.
The church protected this priest who admitted
offences against children
Broken Rites Australia helps victims of church-related
By a Broken Rites researcher
- Article updated 17 February 2012
This is a classic case-study in how the Catholic Church authorities in Australia harboured a priest, despite complaints about him being a danger to children.
In one parish of the Armidale diocese in northern New South Wales in the 1980s, altar boys complained that they were being sexually abused by a certain priest (let us call him Father XYZ). But the two leaders of this diocese — Bishop Henry Kennedy and Monsignor Frank Ryan — protected this priest, helping him to avoid a criminal conviction.
Privately, Father XYZ admitted that he had indeed been committing sexual acts upon children. Later the church was forced to begin paying compensation to some of these former altar boys.
The former altar boys said that their lives were damaged not only by the abuse but also by the church’s cover-up and the code of silence.
Eventually two of the former altar boys (Damian and Daniel) no longer wished to continue living, and they died at the age of 28, each of them leaving two young children. Damian and Daniel did not know each other (they were from different parishes) but their tragic stories are remarkably similar.
Father XYZ grew up in Armidale and attended school there. When he was a young adult, he was recruited by Bishop Henry Kennedy to go to a New South Wales seminary to be trained for the priesthood.
After being ordained, Father XYZ belonged specifically to the Armidale diocese and normally he would be expected to spend his career in the parishes of this diocese.
The Armidale diocese comprised about 30 parishes in a vast rural area. The biggest town in the diocese is Tamworth. The town of Armidale is merely where the bishop is located — at the Cathedral of St Mary and St Joseph, Armidale. Tamworth and Armidale are prominently located on the New England Highway. Further inland are outlying towns such as Moree and Narrabri.
Bishop Henry Kennedy and Monsignor Frank Ryan were significant figures in the Australian church.
- Bishop Henry Kennedy, as a young priest, had been the private secretary to Cardinal Norman Gilroy in Sydney, and had eventually became vice-chancellor of the archdiocese of Sydney. After being an auxiliary bishop in Brisbane, he became bishop of the Armidale diocese in 1971, aged 56.
- Monsignor Francis Patrick Ryan was born in the Armidale diocese. He was a pupil at De La Salle College in Armidale city, and later served as the school’s chaplain. He became one of Australia’s youngest monsignors (the rank immediately below a bishop). He became the Armidale diocese’s vicar-general (that is, the bishop’s deputy) throughout Bishop Kennedy’s reign. As well as being vicar-general, Monsignor Frank Ryan simultaneously worked in parishes (for example, St Francis Xavier parish at Moree).
In the early 1980s Father XYZ spent three years working as an assistant priest in a rural parish. He gave much attention to the altar boys.
By early 1984, at least one family complained to the Armidale diocese leadership that Father XYZ had sexually abused their son (“Max” — not his real name), who was an altar boy. This complaint was “handled” internally by Bishop Kennedy and Monsignor Ryan and it was not passed on to the police.
The Armidale diocese leadership merely granted Father XYZ a short period of leave from the diocese. Later in 1984, they brought him back to the Armidale diocese, where they appointed him to a parish in a much larger town than his previous town. The families in his new parish were not told about the previous trouble in the rural parish.
Meanwhile, other boys from Father XYZ’s earlier town (where the above-mentioned “Max” lived) revealed that they, too, had had an encounter with this priest. But, again, none of this information reached the police.
Eventually, in 1987, one of Father XYZ’s earlier altar boys (Damian James Jurd, born on 7 March 1972) was in distress in Sydney, aged 15. He was interviewed by child-protection workers and by a children’s psychiatrist. Damian revealed that he had been sexually assaulted by Father XYZ while he was in this priest’s custody in early 1984, when he was aged eleven (or turning twelve). The child-protection experts agreed that the sexual assaults (plus the breach of trust and the accompanying cover-up) had disrupted Damian’s adolescence, resulting in severe personal damage.
On 11 August 1987, specialist detectives from Sydney arrested Father XYZ in Tamworth and charged him with having committed sexual crimes on Damian. Damian’s police statement alleged that these assaults occurred during a weekend car-trip to Narrabri(St Francis Xavier parish). Father XYZ and Damien stayed in Narrabri overnight, so that Father XYZ could conduct the weekend Mass for a priest who was away. Damian acted as the altar boy. Damian’s Catholic family had presumed that the child would be safe while in the custody of a Catholic priest.
Early on the evening of 11 August 1987, the arrest of Father XYZ was reported on the Tamworth local regional commercial television news bulletin. The news item gave the priest’s full name, plus the charges. But, also on that same date, church lawyers obtained an injunction from a Supreme Court judge, preventing the next morning’s newspaper from publishing the name of the defendant or any details. Thus, the newspapers could not mention the Catholic Church or the fact that “the man charged” was a clergyman. However, many people had already heard the priest’s name on the earlier TV bulletin.
Supported by the church leadership, Father XYZ indicated that he would plead “not guilty”. The church’s legal team was well resourced. It was headed by a prominent Sydney Queen’s Counsel, whose long career has included defending a number of high-profile criminal cases.
Father XYZ’s case, held in a closed court on 18 February 1988, was heard by a Catholic magistrate who was personally acquainted with Father XYZ.
This magistrate dismissed the charges, saying that he preferred to believe a Catholic priest (who had “no previous convictions”), rather than a delinquent youth.
The magistrate imposed an order, prohibiting the media from publishing the priest’s name, which is why this Broken Rites article refers to him as “Father XYZ”.
After the court’s acquittal, the Armidale diocese arranged for Father XYZ to live in a presbytery (the home of a very senior cleric), instead of ministering in a parish. Father XYZ spent this time doing some university studies.
In 1989 it was arranged that Father XYZ would transfer to minister in a parish in the Parramatta diocese(in Sydney’s west), although he still belonged officially to Armidale.
The Parramatta diocese, which comprised 60 parishes, was administered from 1986 to 1997 by Bishop Bede Heather.
As Parramatta is 500 kilometres away from Armidale, the Parramatta congregations were unlikely to have heard about the 1987 court case. The people of the Armidale diocese were not told why Father XYZ was not being given any more parishes in the Armidale diocese, and his new parishioners in the Parramatta diocese were not told why he was arriving there.
Father XYZ worked (during 1989 until late 1990) in one of Parramatta diocese’s parishes and then (from late 1990 to early 1992) in a second parish. Again, he befriended boys in the same way as before. Eventually, some parishioners in the Parramatta diocese became concerned about Father XYZ.
One parent spoke to a prominent priest of the Parramatta diocese, Father Roderick Bray (of St Margaret Mary parish in Merrylands), and threatened to “go public” about Father XYZ. Furthermore, someone in the Parramatta diocese learned about Father XYZ’s previous trouble in the Armidale diocese, and this information began to circulate in the Parramatta diocese.
In late 1991, while he was still on loan to the Parramatta diocese, the church authorities were finally forced to re-assess their previous protection of Father XYZ.
On 3 September 1991 (according to an official document in the possession of Broken Rites) Father XYZ was called to a meeting at the Sydney Cathedral presbytery, attended by three church officials:
- Reverend Brian Lucas(then based at the Sydney Cathedral), who was involved in the administration of the Sydney archdiocese.
- Reverend John Usher, of the Sydney archdiocese, chairperson of the Australian Catholic Welfare Commission.
- Reverend Wayne Peters, a senior priest of the Armidale diocese, whose responsibilities then included the Armidale diocese Tribunal (Peters later became Armidale’s vicar-general).
Interviewed by the three officials, Father XYZ admitted that he had been committing sexual acts on young boys in his parishes.
[According to the New South Wales criminal laws, these offences would constitute the crime of indecent assault of a child.]
By mid-1992, Father XYZ’s term in the Parramatta diocese had expired. He returned to the Armidale diocese, living in a private house (not a church-owned house). The church authorities did not strip him of his priesthood but they did not appoint him to minister in any more parishes. Thus he became plain “Mister” XYZ, instead of “Father” XYZ. Despite his record, the Armidale diocese allowed him to continue playing an active role (as a layman) in church affairs in this diocese.
After Bishop Henry Kennedy retired in 1991 (aged 76), he was succeeded as bishop of Armidale by Bishop Kevin Manning. In 1997, Bishop Manning transferred to the Parramatta diocese, and Bishop Luc Matthys later took over in Armidale.
After Father XYZ’s return to civilian life, some of his former altar boys tackled the church authorities about the damage that had been done to their lives. The church resisted these applications but it eventually had to make confidential financial settlements with several of the former altar boys. The settlements served a business purpose — in order to end (and limit) the diocese’s financial liability to each of these persons.
Broken Rites has obtained the details of three settlements regarding Father XYZ:
- Damian Jurd, the altar boy in the 1987 court case, hired a Sydney legal firm in the mid-1990s to bring the Armidale diocese to justice. Damian finally extracted a settlement from the diocese in 1998, when he was aged 26. He used this compensation as a deposit on a house for his partner and his two young children. But he was still feeling damaged by the church-abuse and the cover-up. At the end of 2000 his depression became particularly bad and he was feeling worn out. He was found unconscious in bed. He died on New Year’s Day, 2001, aged 28, when his children were aged about nine and eight.
- Daniel William Powell(born on 28 May 1979) was an altar boy in the Parramatta diocese during Father XYZ’s final months there in 1991-92. In October 2003 Daniel (then aged 24) signed a 24-page statement, alleging multiple incidents of sexual abuse by Father XYZ. The church contested Daniel’s claim for reparations. A settlement was reached in 2005 when Daniel was 26. But Daniel never recovered from the disruption of his adolescence and he took his own life, by hanging, on 25 November 2007, aged 28. He was the father of two young children.
- “Basil” (not his real name), who had been an altar boy for Father XYZ in the same parish as Damian Jurd, won a settlement from the Armidale diocese in 2002 when he was 29. Before seeking this settlement, Basil had written to Cardinal George Pell (the archbishop of Sydney), complaining about Father XYZ and the church’s cover-up. Pell replied that this was not a matter for the Sydney archdiocese. Pell forwarded Basil’s complaint to the Armidale diocese. This indicates that Pell now knows about the Father XYZ cover-up — and so do other church leaders.
Broken Rites has heard about a settlement to another complainant (“Max“, in the Armidale diocese in the same parish as Damian Jurd). Also, there may have been other settlements that Broken Rites has not heard about.
The church authorities have some explaining to do:
WHY did the church tolerate Father XYZ for so long in the Armidale diocese in the 1980s, thereby putting children in danger?
WHY did the Armidale diocese transfer him to the Parramatta diocese for 1989-92, thereby putting more children in danger?
WHY did the Parramatta diocese agree to accept this priest, despite his history of complaints about him in the Armidale diocese?
WHEN Father XYZ admitted in his interview with church authorities on 3 September 1991 that he had indeed been committing sexual acts on children, did the church authorities pass this information on to the New South Wales police? If not, why not?
DO the church authorities feel any responsibility towards the children of Damian Jurd and the children of Daniel Powell? The lives of these orphans have been damaged by the church’s behaviour in harbouring and protecting Father XYZ. The next generation is still feeling the impact of the church’s cover-up.
Article by John Farrell
Bishop Henry Kennedy and Monsignor Frank Ryan are mentioned in an article by John Farrell, of Armidale, which was published in a local newspaper, the Armidale Independent, on (10 February 2011 (on page 4). The article was headed:
A weekly history column by John Farrell
No. 85: The ten Catholic bishops of ArmidaleJohn Farrell’s article includes a brief outline of the career of Bishop Henry Kennedy, plus an anecdote about Kennedy’s early travels in the remote parts of the diocese. The article also mentions that, after Bishop Kevin Manning retired in 1997, Monsignor Frank Ryan was the head of the diocese for two years until Bishop Luc Matthys arrived in 1999. John Farrell’s article is favourable towards Kennedy and Ryan.
John Farrell, who is associated with the Armidale and District Historical Society, is a prominent citizen in the city of Armidale. He writes articles about local history in the Armidale press, including articles about church history.
According to the website of the Armidale Catholic diocese, Father John Farrell was a priest in the Armidale diocese in the 1980s (e.g., at St Nicholas’s parish, Tamworth, in 1985).
Perhaps some day this same newspaper, the Armidale Independent, will publish an article about how the Catholic Church leadership harboured Father XYZ.
from the link: http://www.dailymail.com/News/201204180090
CHARLESTON, W.Va. – A witness in a clergy sex-abuse trial in Philadelphia testified that he was sexually assaulted in a home owned by West Virginia’s highest-ranking Catholic official, Bishop Michael Bransfield, and said he was told by his abuser that Bransfield had assaulted another boy.
The 48-year-old witness was on the stand Wednesday when he gave the testimony about Bransfield.
The man was testifying in a criminal trial against Monsignor William Lynn, who is accused of covering up sex abuse allegations for the Philadelphia Archdiocese.
Bransfield has not been charged with a crime.
The testimony came one day after news reports that prosecutors were having trouble getting Monsignor Kevin Quirk, Bransfield’s aide, to testify.
Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said Tuesday that Quirk had agreed to testify in Philadelphia but had to notify Bransfield first. Then the process stalled.
The witness told the jury he saw Bransfield bring several boys to a farm owned by Stanley Gana, a former priest in the diocese, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The witness told the jury the alleged incident occurred at Gana’s Scranton, Pa., farm more than 30 years ago. He was building a flagstone wall when then Rev. Bransfield pulled up in a car with several teenage boys.
The man said Gana told him Bransfield was having sex with one of the boys.
The 68-year-old Bransfield, a Philadelphia native, was installed as the head of the West Virginia diocese in 2005, replacing Bishop Bernard Schmitt, who retired in 2003.
Bransfield came to this state from his position as the rector of the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
Bryan Minor, spokesman for the diocese, said that Bransfield was not available Wednesday and that he had yet to speak with him about the allegations.
“The Diocese of Wheeling-Charleston is learning of media reports originating from legal proceedings underway in Philadelphia, and Bishop Michael Bransfield’s name was brought up in court today,” Minor said in a statement.
“Until such time that the facts and issues surrounding this testimony are made fully known to the Diocese, we cannot comment at this time.”
The diocese on Tuesday called the trial a “circus” and said Philadelphia prosecutors were trying to smear people who have never been charged with a crime.
Monsignor Edward Sadie, rector of the Basilica of the Co-Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Charleston, had not heard about the testimony concerning Bransfield Wednesday.
“I just find this beyond belief,” Sadie said. “I just hope and pray it’s not true.”
Sadie said Bransfield has been “very diligent” in keeping church officials and parishioners looking out for “deviant behavior” involving children at the church.
He said all church officials and the parishioners who work with children are taught what to look for and are made aware of how and where they should report abuse.
“We have a very strong policy,” Sadie said. “He’s been very diligent in pushing that policy.”
The witness told the jury Gana raped him for years and that Gana and Bransfield were close friends. He said Gana once sexually abused him during a visit to Bransfield’s New Jersey beach house.
Another witness testified that Bransfield had a lewd conversation with him.
Bransfield was ordained in 1971 by the late Cardinal John Krol. According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, Gana was ordained about the same time.
The testimony comes four weeks into the prosecution of Lynn, who is the first U.S. church official ever to be charged over the handling of abuse complaints. Lynn served as the secretary for clergy in Philadelphia from 1992 to 2004 and supervised more than 800 priests.
Prosecutors alleged that Lynn allowed dangerous priests to work with children in the parish to protect the church’s reputation.
The church also is accused of keeping secret files dating back to 1948 that allegedly show a long-standing conspiracy to protect priests and cast doubt on sex-abuse victims.
Lynn’s attorney maintained that Lynn’s job was to oversee the sex abuse complaints but that another man, Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua, who has since died, solely determined priest assignments and transfers.
If convicted, Lynn could serve 28 years in prison.
The other defendant in the trial is the Rev. James Brennan, who is accused of raping a 14-year-old boy in 1996.
Quirk’s testimony was sought because he served as a judge for the church’s in-house trial of Brennan in 2008. Prosecutors wanted him to testify about the accuracy of statements Brennan made during that trial.
Defrocked priest Edward Avery was the third defendant in the trial but pleaded guilty early on. Lynn and Brennan both pleaded not guilty.
Avery’s plea acknowledged that he was kept in the ministry despite an earlier complaint, for which he underwent therapy. He sexually assaulted an altar boy seven years later, he said.
Common Pleas Judge Teresa Sarmina agreed to take up the matter with court officials in Wheeling.
Bransfield has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and a master’s in divinity from St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Pennsylvania. He served as assistant pastor at St. Albert the Great Parish in Huntingdon Valley, Pa., from 1971 to 1973. He received a master of philosophy degree from the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., in 1973.
He served as a teacher, chaplain and then chairman of the religion department at a Catholic school in the suburbs of Philadelphia.
He currently serves as president of the Papal Foundation of Bala Cynwyd, Pa., and is the treasurer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. Bransfield also is a member of the Knights of Columbus and the Knights of the Holy Sepulchre.
An official with the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, called on Bransfield to address the allegations Wednesday.
Judy Jones, Midwest director of SNAP, said that in light of the day’s testimony, Bransfield, not his lawyer or representative, should address the allegations immediately. She also wants him to agree to be questioned on the allegations.
“This isn’t rocket science,” Jones wrote. “For starters, there are three simple questions Bransfield should answer: Did or does he own a house with Philly’s Father Gana? If so, did he take boys there? And did he molest any of them?
“This notion that Bransfield somehow can’t respond to the testimony today in Philly, as his lawyer claims, is bogus.”
Jones also took issue with Bransfield’s apparent refusal to send Monsignor Quirk to Philadelphia.
“Msgr. Kevin M. Quirk has a sworn obedience to Bransfield,” Jones wrote. “Bransfield can order Quirk to appear in court. Bransfield should do that immediately. If he doesn’t, that will only add to the doubts about Bransfield.”
Founded in 1988, SNAP is the world’s oldest and largest support group for clergy abuse victims. It has more than 12,000 members.
Priest ‘a violent bully and coward’
April 20, 2012
THE former priest Brian Spillane has been sentenced to nine years’ imprisonment for a series of sexual assaults on young girls – attacks described as “serious, planned and callous” by Judge Michael Finnane of the NSW District Court.
“The offender used his position as a priest to gain access to the homes in which each of his victims lived,” said the judge. “He was very trusted and the parents of each of the victims readily gave him access to their daughters because of that trust and the esteem in which he was held.”
The assaults began in the late 1970s when Spillane was on the staff of St Stanislaus College, a boys’ boarding school in Bathurst. They continued when he became a parish priest in Sydney. He later returned to St Stanislaus as school chaplain.
Spillane, 69, continues to deny all the charges that have been brought against him, not only those involving these young girls but some 100 charges he has yet to face relating to assaults on boys at the school.
A heavy-set redhead, Spillane trained for the priesthood in the Vincentian Order and was sent to teach at St Stanislaus in the late 1960s. At his trial he described himself as a modern priest – joyful and enthusiastic, a hugger and kisser, a man at ease with families and their children.
In the late 1970s, he ingratiated himself into a family with boys at the school and abused their sister, then aged 11.
“This was the conduct of a violent bully and coward, done without regard to the effect it would have on the young girl,” Judge Finnane said at sentencing. “It was sexual abuse carried out by a trusted priest, and was a major breach of trust.”
The Vincentians posted Spillane to Sydney in the late 1970s and for a time he was acting parish priest at St Anthony’s Marsfield. There he befriended another devout Catholic family and, under the guise of hearing their daughters’ bedtime prayers, abused both for more than a year. The judge called this: “Predatory and a major abuse of trust.”
One of those victims, known as Miss M, told the court of the devastating impact on her life of Spillane’s abuse: of guilt, panic, mistrust, anger, depression, estrangement, drinking, drugs, loss of interest in study and, now, fearfulness for her daughter. She said: “It changed my fate and all that I wanted to be.”
In those years in Sydney, Spillane also assaulted and wrote love letters to a 16-year-old student at a western suburbs Catholic school. Judge Finnane called the assault “predatory and heartless” and the letters “maudlin, full of false piety and completely inappropriate”.
Spillane left the priesthood in 2004 and a son was born after his marriage that year. The first complaints about him were made to Bathurst police three years later. He was charged in 2008 and convicted by a District Court jury in 2010.
Sentencing was delayed until yesterday by the defence solicitor Greg Walsh attempting to have his old friend Judge Finnane disqualify himself from this and any future proceedings involving Spillane.
Mr Walsh claimed that after the swearing-in of a new District Court judge in March last year, Judge Finnane remarked over a cup of tea that paedophiles were “all guilty” and “should be put on an island and starved to death”.
Judge Finnane denied saying those words and declined to disqualify himself. The dispute reached the NSW Court of Appeal in November and the decision upholding the judge’s right to sit was delivered a fortnight ago.
The court found the words, if uttered, might have been incautious but couldn’t be taken seriously and would not be regarded by a fair-minded bystander as prejudging the former priest’s position.
Lawyers estimate about $700,000 has been spent on the former priest’s defence so far. But who is footing that bill is a mystery. A spokeswoman for the Catholic Archbishop of Sydney, Cardinal Pell, says it is not the church. The Vincentian Order has refused to take the Herald‘s calls.
At Spillane’s sentencing, Judge Finnane spoke of receiving glowing testimonials to his good character. But, he added, “it has also to be said that he used his eminence in the community and his role as a priest to gain access to his victims and to carry out sexual offences on them.”
Miss M sobbed with relief when the judge sent her abuser to prison for nine years with a non-parole period of five.
Gerald T. Slevin, Update–Criminal Charges of Vatican Child Abuse Cover-Up
Monday, April 16, 2012
Cross-posted on Open Tabernacle, 16 April 2012.
From the link: http://wnyt.com/article/stories/S2583334.shtml?cat=300
Local priest on leave; abuse claims investigated
Posted at: 04/16/2012 10:37 AM | Updated at: 04/16/2012 10:54 AM
By: WNYT Staff
CAIRO – The Albany Roman Catholic Diocese has placed Father Jeremiah Nunan on administrative leave from ministry, after allegations that he sexually abused a minor.
Father Nunan was also on leave six years ago, when he faced similar accusations, before he was restored to ministry.
Seventy-four-year-old Jeremiah Nunan is pastor of Sacred Heart Parish in Cairo and Our Lady of Knock Mission in East Durham.
The diocese placed him on administrative leave, after a civil lawsuit claimed that Nunan sexually abused a child between 1996 and 2003, and then between 2007 and last year when that person was an adult.
Reverend Nunan is temporarily barred from officiating at any sacraments, or presenting himself as a priest. Parishioners found out last weekend at mass.
Father Nunan was also on leave in 2006, after being accused of sexually abusing a teenaged boy in the late 1960’s and early seventies.
When NewsChannel 13 reported those accusations six years ago, many parishioners voiced their support of the priest.
The diocese says an investigation by the Independent Mediation Assistance Program could not substantiate the abuse claim, and Nunan returned to his duties.
Reverend Nunan has served at Saint Henry’s in Averill Park, Saint Mary’s in Little Falls, Assumption Parish in Latham, and Saint Mary’s in Hudson.