Blog Archives

Vatican approach to child abuse in Ireland absolutely disgraceful, says PM


from the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/14/vatican-child-abuse-ireland?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

Vatican approach to child abuse in Ireland absolutely disgraceful, says PM

Enda Kenny says laws being drawn up making it impossible for anyone to avoid obligation to report abuse allegations

in Dublin
guardian.co.uk, Thursday 14 July 2011 13.52 EDT

Enda Kenny has called on the Vatican to repeat its commitment to always following civil law in matters relating to child abuse. Photograph: Isopix/Rex Features

 

Ireland’s prime minister has denounced the Vatican‘s approach to allegations of child abuse in the republic as absolutely disgraceful.

Enda Kenny said new laws are being drawn up that will make it impossible for anyone – even those high up in the Roman Catholic church – to avoid their obligations regarding reports of child abuse.

“The law of the land should not be stopped by crosier, or by collar,” Kenny said.

He added that he hopes the response from the Irish government to the Cloyne report will clarify to everyone that the law of the land applies in situations where appalling actions took place.

Kenny called on the Vatican to repeat its commitment that civil law should always be followed. The Irish Catholic church and the Vatican have faced severe criticism over repeated attempts to deal with incidents of abuse behind closed doors rather than by handing over suspects to the Garda Síochána.

The Irish deputy prime minister and foreign minister, Eamon Gilmore, met with the Vatican’s ambassador to Ireland to discuss the report’s findings.

“There’s one law in this country. Everybody is going to have to learn to comply with it. The Vatican will have to comply with the laws of this country,” Gilmore said after the meeting.

Gilmore said the report would be debated in the House next Tuesday or Wednesday, depending on the availability of ministers and spokespersons.

He said the failure of the church to co-operate with the law was one of the greatest problems and that the coalition government was determined that there would be consequences for any institution which failed to work with the legal authorities of the state when it came to child abuse.

The Socialist party’s Joe Higgins said people were “throwing their hands in the air” at the revelations in the Cloyne report.

Advertisements

Priest apologises for likening Irish PM to Hitler over attack on Vatican


from the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/28/priest-apologises-enda-kenny-hitler-vatican?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

Priest apologises for likening Irish PM to Hitler over attack on Vatican

Cleric says he regrets leaflet berating Enda Kenny over accusation that the Holy See downplayed child sex abuse scandals

guardian.co.uk, Thursday 28 July 2011 10.23 EDT

Enda Kenny: parliamentarians from his Fine Gael party complained over the leaflet issued by Father Thomas Daly. Photograph: Julien Behal/PA

 

A Catholic priest in the Irish Republic has been forced to apologise for comparing the country’s prime minister to Adolf Hitler because the taoiseach had dared to criticise the Vatican.

Father Thomas Daly issued the apology on Thursday after he likened Enda Kenny‘s denunciation of the Vatican‘s handling of clerical child sex abuse scandals in the republic to one of Hitler’s speeches.

In a leaflet titled Heil Herr Kenny given to members of the Togher parish in Drogheda, County Louth, the priest wrote that the last European leader to issue such a blistering attack on the pope “was the ruthless German dictator Adolf Hitler”.

Daly said, like Hitler, the taoiseach “had to face reality. A cautionary tale.”

The parish priest also drew a comparison between the Irish prime minister’s remarks to those of anti-Catholic loyalists in Northern Ireland.

“Perhaps we might try and find a way to build new with bridges with the Shankill Road people. A ‘No Pope Here’ sign would definitely be a draw for Shankill Road people and marchers from Portadown,” he wrote.

Parliamentarians from Kenny’s Fine Gael party complained over the priest’s leaflet. Daly said: “I regret the headline and for the misunderstandings that might have arisen out of it. I am not comparing Enda Kenny to Hitler.”

In an unprecedented attack on the Vatican last week, Kenny accused the Holy See of “downplaying the rape and torture of children“. He told the Dáil that the recent Cloyne report “revealed an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry into child sex abuse just three years ago”.

Irish prime minister attacks Vatican


from the link: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2011/jul/20/irish-prime-minister-attacks-vatican

Irish prime minister attacks Vatican

Enda Kenny says Cloyne report on child sex abuse by priests highlights dysfunction and elitism in Rome

in Dublin
guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 20 July 2011 11.46 EDT

The Irish PM, Enda Kenny, said the Vatican seemed more interested in upholding the church's reputation than confronting sexual abuse. Photograph: Isopix / Rex Features

Ireland’s prime minister has launched an unprecedented attack on the Vatican, accusing it of downplaying the rape and torture of Irish children by clerical sex abusers.

Enda Kenny said in parliament that the Cloyne report, released on 13 July, had exposed the Vatican’s attempt to frustrate the inquiry into child sex abuse.

During a debate on the fallout from the Cloyne findings, the taoiseach said the report had illuminated the dysfunction and elitism still dominant in the Vatican.

Kenny told the Dáil on Wednesday that Rome seemed more interested in upholding the church’s power and reputation than confronting the abuse of Irish children by its priests and religious orders.

The Vatican’s attitude to investigations in Cloyne, which covers County Cork, was the “polar opposite of the radicalism, the humility and the compassion that the church had been founded on”, he said.

Kenny said the rape and torture of children had been downplayed or “managed” to uphold the institution’s power and reputation.

The all-party motion being debated in the Dáil “deplores the Vatican’s intervention which contributed to the undermining of child protection frameworks and guidelines of the Irish state and the Irish bishops”.

One of the most damning findings of the Cloyne report was that the diocese failed to report nine out of 15 complaints made against priests, which “very clearly should have been reported”.

The report, coming after a string of inquiries into Catholic clerical sex abuse across Ireland, has set the Irish government on a collision course with the church.

Earlier on Wednesday a Vatican spokesman, Fr Federico Lombardi, speaking in a personal capacity, said nothing in the advice given by the papal nuncio to Ireland in 1997 encouraged bishops to break Irish laws.

The Vatican’s advice to Irish bishops on child protection policies could not be interpreted as an invitation to cover up abuse cases, he said.

Ireland’s justice minister, Alan Shatter, described the Vatican spokesman’s argument as disingenuous.

Some Irish parliamentarians have called on the Fine Gael-Labour coalition to expel the papal nuncio from Ireland in protest over the Vatican’s attitude to the allegations in the Cloyne diocese.

 

 

 

Vatican announces silencing of Irish liberal priest Father Tony Flannery


From the link: http://www.irishcentral.com/news/Vatican-announces-silencing-of-Irish-liberal-priest-Father-Tony-Flannery-146402545.html

Vatican announces silencing of Irish liberal priest Father Tony Flannery

Criticisms of Vatican on abuse, birth control, women priests, leads to inquiry

By

ANTOINETTE KELLY,
IrishCentral Staff Writer
Published Friday, April 6, 2012, 6:09 AM
Updated Friday, April 6, 2012, 6:59 AM

Father Tony Flannery

 

Father Tony Flannery, a Catholic priest who has been outspoken in his criticism of the abuse crisis in Ireland, has found himself under investigation by the Vatican for his liberal views.

Founder of the Association of Irish Priests, Father Flannery told TheJournal.ie that the Vatican has contacted him to inform him of the investigation.

The effect of the investigation was immediate. This week The Irish Catholic newspaper reports that Father Flannery had to cease writing his monthly column in the Redemptorist Reality magazine in response to news of the investigation.

The Irish Catholic writer Michael Kelly reported that, “It is understood that while Fr Flannery has the support of his superiors in the Redemptorist Order, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) in Rome has expressed disquiet about some of his articles and publications.

“It is believed that the views which have come under most scrutiny are Fr Flannery’s opposition to the Church’s ban on artificial birth control and his support for the ordination of women.”

Last year, Father Flannery welcomed Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny’s hard hitting criticism of the Church’s decades long mishandling of the child sex abuse scandals in Ireland.

The investigation is seen by critics as a crackdown on the association, which has been described as a ‘dissident group’ by more conservative members of the Church.

In recent months, the association has called for changes in the Church, including its theology on sexuality. Some of the association’s priests contend that priests should be allowed to marry and that the Church should permit the ordination of female priests.

A Redemptorist, Flannery is a native of Attymon, Athenry in County Galway, Ireland. He is the youngest in the family of four. He has two brothers: Peter, who is a fellow Redemptorist at Esker Monastery in Athenry, and Frank, the Fine Gael Director of Organisation and Strategy.

The crackdown comes on the heels of the Vatican ordered Apostolic Visitation, which found evidence of what it called a ‘certain tendency’ for Irish priests to hold opinions that conflict with those of the orthodox Magisterium, the Catholic Church’s teaching authority.

In a sign of hardening attitudes, the Visitation participants underlined that any dissent from the formal teachings of the Church were ‘not the authentic path towards renewal.’

Under the current circumstances, Father Flannery has been effectively silenced, with no indication of how long it will last.

On Holy Thursday Pope Benedict issued a very direct statement which slammed those priests who refuse to conform to church teachings.

Comments on Pope Benedicts Christmas Message to the Leaders of the RCC


Pope Benedict

1. For my Bridegroom’s wounds remain fresh and open as long as the wounds of men’s sins continue to gape. And Christ’s wounds remain open because of the sins of priests. They tear my robe, since they are violators of the Law, the Gospel and their own priesthood; they darken my cloak by neglecting, in every way, the precepts which they are meant to uphold; my shoes too are blackened, since priests do not keep to the straight paths of justice, which are hard and rugged, or set good examples to those beneath them. Nevertheless, in some of them I find the splendour of truth.’

Jesus Christ’s wounds will remain open as long as the Roman Catholic Church, it’s leaders and it’s priests do not submit to man’s authority in a court of law for their crimes against the children of the Roman Catholic Church. To hide behind Jesus Christ and say that you should not be prosecuted for these crimes because you are a person of religion only makes your crimes against the children of the Roman Catholic Church more evil.

Jesus Christ loved the children most of all. He even said that if you harm one hair on the head of one of these, your punishment would be worse.

The Pope broke his vows when he allowed two known pedophile priests to continue in the priesthood.

The priests broke their vows when they raped the children of the Roman Catholic Church.

The Bishops and Cardinals broke their vows when they covered up for the priests who raped the children of the Roman Catholic Church.

By these actions of the Pope, Bishops and Cardinals and Priests of the Roman Catholic Church and their refusal to submit to the courts of man for justice for the victims of rape and abuse by the priests, the wounds of Jesus Christ and the victims of priest rape will never heal.

It is the Pope, the Bishops, the Cardinals and the Priests who keep these wounds of Jesus Christ open and unhealed.

2. Only the truth saves. We must ask ourselves what we can do to repair as much as possible the injustice that has occurred. We must ask ourselves what was wrong in our proclamation, in our whole way of living the Christian life, to allow such a thing to happen. We must discover a new resoluteness in faith and in doing good. We must be capable of doing penance

The refusal of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to submit to the courts of the land for justice for the victims of priest rape is not truth. The refusal of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church to turn in priests for rape of the children of the Roman Catholic Church is not truth. The words of Cardinal Timothy Dolan backing up Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights in his attacks against the victims of priest rape, calling them all liars and gold diggers and going after SNAP because they fight for the victims of priest rape is not the truth.

The truth will only save the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church and the church itself, when these very leaders come clean, stop destroying evidence, stop denigrating the victims of priest abuse and those who work to help us.

There is no real truth in the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church. You deny the truth and you deny the victims of priest rape true justice. Your truth is a lie. Your truth only seeks to protect the church and it’s leaders from the evil crimes committed by the Roman Catholic Church priests against the children of the church. Your truth seeks only to protect and hold from harm the leaders who covered this up and moved these priests who raped children to another parish so they could rape children again.  You do not truly want the truth to come out and when one of the victims speak the truth about the horror they went through at the hands of one of your priests, you force them to sign away their right to speak out in any settlement you might offer to the victim, thereby showing again, the leaders of the Roman Catholic Church does not want the truth to get out.

3. This is also the moment to offer heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help victims and to restore their trust in the Church, their capacity to believe her message. In my meetings with victims of this sin, I have also always found people who, with great dedication, stand alongside those who suffer and have been damaged.

So your heartfelt thanks to all those who work to help we, the victims of priest rape, is to attack such groups as SNAP and do all you can to put them out of business? To attack the victims and say we are all liars and gold diggers? You may speak these words Pope Benedict, but the Vatican and the Roman Catholic Church supporting with money and help, Bill Donohue of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and James Salt of Catholics United speaks volumes. This is why I call you His Unholiness the Papal Bullshitter.

Your own Cardinal, Timothy Dolan support these attacks of Bill Donohue and James Salt against the victims of priest rape and the organizations that help and support us.

4. We are well aware of the particular gravity of this sin committed by priests and of our corresponding responsibility. But neither can we remain silent regarding the context of these times in which these events have come to light. There is a market in child pornography that seems in some way to be considered more and more normal by society.

Your corresponding responsibility is not to destroy records and cover up these priests actions, nor prevent their prosecution. Again, Pope, only perverts and child rapists consider child pornography normal. Society does NOT consider child pornography as normal and prosecute those who produce and disseminate or even possesses child pornography.

You and your church truly failed in this recognition of the gravity of the sin committed by your priests because instead of recognizing it, you leaders hid it and fought it from coming to light. You have denigrated any and all reporters who spoke out about this evil. You denigrated and slammed those who stood up and spoke out about this evil sin as people only seeking to destroy the church. Your leaders and apologists scream how it is unfair that we are attacking the church when other religious organizations and human kind itself does these same things.

Those are poor excuses. See Pope Benedict, religious people are held to a higher standard. You hold yourselves up as a higher standard and a more moral person. You hold your religion as the guiding light for morality and life. Yet your religion is a den of pervert leaders who rape children with impunity, then hide behind your religion as a defense. Jesus Christ himself would tell you all that you are not of him nor were you ever were.

The Roman Catholic Church and it’s leaders have a history of brutality, murder, butchery, torture, slaughter and evil that is second to none. We are supposed to hold your church up as the shining example of morality and justice, truth and good, love and hope for all of us? When this church and it’s history is covered in the blood of millions of innocent men, women and children? The hundreds of thousands of young children who had their minds, hearts, souls and bodies raped by your priests and destroyed their lives and we are supposed to hold you, the Pope, who allowed two known pedophile priests to continue to rape the children of the RCC as all holy, and we should bow down to you and respect you?

Well my truth is Pope Benedict, I would never bow down to you, or anyone in your church. I excommunicated myself from your church the night your priest at St Thomas Moore Parish in Durham NH rape me.

5. In order to resist these forces, we must turn our attention to their ideological foundations. In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorized as something fully in conformity with man and even with children. This, however, was part of a fundamental perversion of the concept of ethos. It was maintained – even within the realm of Catholic theology – that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a “better than” and a “worse than”. Nothing is good or bad in itself. Everything depends on the circumstances and on the end in view. Anything can be good or also bad, depending upon purposes and circumstances. Morality is replaced by a calculus of consequences, and in the process it ceases to exist.

So you are blaming the world for your priests actions against the children of the Roman Catholic Church? You, Pope Benedict say it is because of the pornography and the incest in the world that made it possible for your priests to rape us children of the church? That it is the moral failings of the non religious that causes the moral failings of the religious?

You, Pope Benedict are really slick. You claim that raping a child is evil and wrong, then you backflip and say it isn’t. Then you place all the blame for the evils and crimes that your priests and leaders did on the immorality of the rest of the human race? You accept no responsibilities for your actions, the actions of your leaders or the actions of your priests, instead you place the blame on the non religious, pornography, incest and drug use….things your priests should never be doing in the first place and should be excommunicated for in the second place.

Yes Pope Benedict, you sure are great with the double speak. Yet I know one person you will never fool. Your Lord and Savior Jesus Christ….who has reserved a very nice place for you in hell.

Questions to the Pope on the Catechism of the Roman Catholic Church about Rape


Pope Benedict

Rape is the forcible violation of the sexual intimacy of another person. It does injury to justice and charity. Rape deeply wounds the respect, freedom, and physical and moral integrity to which every person has a right. It causes grave damage that can mark the victim for life. It is always an intrinsically evil act. Graver still is the rape of children committed by parents (incest) or those responsible for the education of the children entrusted to them.

So Pope Benedict I have a couple of questions for you.

1. If you accept the catechism statement on rape, then why have you not turned over the priests who have raped the children of the Roman Catholic Church to the police for prosecution to the fullest extent the law allows? Why did you allow two priest whom you knew to be pedophiles to continue in the priesthood, to rape even more children, instead of doing what you are morally and legally obligated to do and turned them into the police for prosecution? Why did you not immediately excommunicate these two priests for their crimes against the children of the Roman Catholic Church?

2. Why must victims of priest sexual abuse sign non disclosure forms upon pain of excommunication from the Roman Catholic Church and must swear to secrecy under the Crimen Sollicitationis? Why must all priests and witnesses have to sign oaths of secrecy upon pains of being excommunicated from the church?

3. Why are not all the priests who raped children, the leaders who have covered up their actions not been excommunicated from the church for their crimes against the children of the church and the laws of the land? Why have these priests and leaders continued to be in this church for their crimes against the children of the church? Why are they not allowed to be prosecuted to the fullest extent the law allows?

4. Why do you Pope Benedict, the priests who raped us, the leaders who covered this up believe you are above man’s laws? Does not your Jesus Christ even demand you submit to man’s laws in relations to crimes committed? Your priests raped us children, you and your leaders covered it up and yet you demand not to be given justice for your crimes against humanity and the children of the church because you are religious leaders and should not be prosecuted by the law? How can you call yourself a man of God, Jesus Christ and a leader of the church, yet set a poor example in the children seeking justice against this church for the crimes your priests and leaders perpetrated against us by denying justice to us victims? If you are a true man of God, then submit yourself for justice for your role in covering up the two priests who raped children.

See Pope Benedict, you would excommunicate a homosexual, an adulterer, and many others at the drop of the hat, but you will not excommunicate your own priests and leaders who raped children and covered this up.

Is it no wonder why I call you His Unholiness the Papal Bullshitter?

Both Sides Point To Key Evidence In Priest Abuse Case


This story comes from the following link: http://philadelphia.cbslocal.com/2012/03/28/both-sides-point-to-key-evidence-in-priest-abuse-case/

Both Sides Point To Key Evidence In Priest Abuse Case

March 28, 2012 4:29 AM

By Tony Hanson

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Smoking gun evidence for the prosecution and the defense as both sides cite the same couple of documents to make their case for guilt or innocence in the clergy abuse case. The evidence centers around a former co-defendant who last week admitted sexually abusing an altar boy.

The prosecution has presented evidence in the form of documents showing Monsignor William Lynn, who is charged with endangering children compiled a list of 35 suspected or admitted predator priests, found then Father Edward Avery was guilty of sexual misconduct with a minor but still allowed him to remain in ministry and Avery struck again.

He pleaded guilty to this assault last week.

But the defense says the list is evidence Monsignor Lynn did his job, tried to deal with the sex abuse issue but his list was later ordered shredded by the late Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and the shredding was carried out by others, the act memorialized in a memo shown to the jury.

 

Evidence in Msgr William Lynn's trial.

Sex crimes and the Vatican


This article comes from this link http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/panorama/5389684.stm

Sex crimes and the Vatican

A secret document which sets out a procedure for dealing with child sex abuse scandals within the Catholic Church is examined by Panorama.

Crimen Sollicitationis was enforced for 20 years by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger before he became the Pope.

It instructs bishops on how to deal with allegations of child abuse against priests and has been seen by few outsiders.

Critics say the document has been used to evade prosecution for sex crimes.

Crimen Sollicitationis was written in 1962 in Latin and given to Catholic bishops worldwide who are ordered to keep it locked away in the church safe.

It instructs them how to deal with priests who solicit sex from the confessional. It also deals with “any obscene external act … with youths of either sex.”

It imposes an oath of secrecy on the child victim, the priest dealing with the allegation and any witnesses.

Breaking that oath means excommunication from the Catholic Church.

Reporting for Panorama, Colm O’Gorman finds seven priests with child abuse allegations made against them living in and around the Vatican City.

One of the priests, Father Joseph Henn, has been indicted on 13 molestation charges brought by a grand jury in the United States.

During filming for Sex Crimes and the Vatican, Colm finds Father Henn is fighting extradition orders from inside the headquarters of this religious order in the Vatican.

The Vatican has not compelled him to return to America to face the charges against him.

After filming, Father Henn lost his fight against extradition but fled the headquarters and is believed to be hiding in Italy while there is an international warrant for his arrest.

Colm O’Gorman was raped by a Catholic priest in the diocese of Ferns in County Wexford in Ireland when he was 14 years old.

Father Fortune was charged with 66 counts of sexual, indecent assault and another serious sexual offence relating to eight boys but he committed suicide on the eve of his trial.

Colm started an investigation with the BBC in March 2002 which led to the resignation of Dr Brendan Comiskey, the bishop leading the Ferns Diocese.

Colm then pushed for a government inquiry which led to the Ferns Report.

It was published in October 2005 and found: “A culture of secrecy and fear of scandal that led bishops to place the interests of the Catholic Church ahead of the safety of children.”

The Catholic Church has 50 million children in its worldwide congregation and no universal child protection policy although in the UK there is the Catholic Office for the Protection of Children & Vulnerable Adults.

In some countries this means that the Crimen Sollicitationis is the only policy followed.

The Vatican has refused repeated requests from Panorama to respond to any of the cases shown in the film.

With church abuse trial set to open, tensions abound


http://www.philly.com/philly/news/20120325_With_church_abuse_trial_set_to_open__tensions_abound.html?viewAll=y&c=y

With church abuse trial set to open, tensions abound

By John P. Martin

Inquirer Staff Writer

Sun, Mar. 25, 2012, 6:45 AM

Msgr William J Lynn accused of cover ups in priest abuse scandals.

The neighborhood that rings St. Jerome’s Church in Northeast Philadelphia is flush with cops and firefighters, reliable Catholics in brick homes with tidy lawns, backyard slides, and a few front-door crucifixes.

That was the backdrop last year for one of the more sordid clergy sex-abuse allegations to emerge in years. A grand jury report described a 10-year-old altar boy being confronted in St. Jerome’s sacristy after Mass, ordered to strip, and engage in sex.

Not once, but three times – by two different priests – over a year in the late 1990s.

On Monday, a Philadelphia jury is scheduled to start hearing about those accusations and one that looms larger: that leaders of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia could have predicted, or prevented, the attacks but instead followed a long-held practice of protecting the church and abusers within it.

The trial of Msgr. William J. Lynn, who for 12 years led the office that recommended priests’ assignments and monitored their conduct, marks the first in the nation for a church supervisor accused of covering up child sex abuse.

His arrest last year on child-endangerment charges, along with two priests and one defrocked cleric accused of molesting boys in the 1990s, stirred fresh outrage among Catholics and led officials of the 1.5 million-member archdiocese to suspend 26 priests, reexamine past claims, and vow to institute its second wave of reforms in six years.

The case has stoked national interest not because of who Lynn is but what his trial signifies. As hundreds of priests worldwide have been accused or convicted of molesting children, church leaders have consistently avoided prosecution, casting the crisis as an individual epidemic, not an institutional one.

Late last week, an eleventh-hour guilty plea from one of the defendants threatened to upend the trial. Defrocked priest Edward V. Avery admitted that he sexually assaulted the St. Jerome’s boy in 1999 and that he conspired with Lynn and others to endanger minors.

Avery is not cooperating with prosecutors, but lawyers for Lynn and the third defendant, the Rev. James J. Brennan, said widespread publicity about the plea might have tainted the jury. Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina said she will rule Monday on their request for a delay to pick a new jury.

If it does go forward, the trial promises more, and potentially more jarring, revelations for Catholics, with implications beyond one cleric or one diocese.

The prospective witness list includes a deceased cardinal, Anthony J. Bevilacqua, forced from a reclusive retirement for a videotaped interrogation weeks before his death; two former Philadelphia bishops implicated in the shredding of an incriminating memo; and two men who say they were plunged into years of drug abuse and crime after being raped as boys by their parish priests.

Jurors are likely to hear a drumbeat of testimony about clerics molesting children and could see thousands of pages of never-released documents about their sexual misconduct, including personnel records so sensitive that they were locked away for years in filing cabinets known as “the secret archives.”

For more than a decade, Lynn was the keeper of those files and a key officer in the local church hierarchy. Now 61, he was suspended last year from St. Joseph Church in Downingtown, where he was pastor. A guilty verdict could mean years in prison and a victory for those who have faulted the church’s handling of sex-abuse allegations.

“Did a lot of bishops do very stupid things for which they should have been held accountable and they were not held accountable? Yes, absolutely,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a scholar at Georgetown University’s Woodstock Theological Center. “Now this is a chance again to send the church, to send the bishops, a message by prosecuting somebody.”

Lynn’s lawyers have used the same theory to argue his innocence. They say the monsignor was a middle manager unfairly “hung out to dry” by prosecutors eager to blame someone for years of unchecked abuse and by bosses who scrambled, or flat-out lied, to save themselves. They say an objective review shows Lynn used “good judgment” and tried to isolate abusers from children.

Bound by a gag order, the attorneys, Thomas Bergstrom and Jeffrey Lindy, have not outlined their trial strategy or said if Lynn will testify. But at one pretrial hearing, Lindy assured the judge: “Monsignor Lynn has a story to tell.”

Simply that a trial is taking place might be more significant than its outcome, said Patrick Wall, a former priest turned lawyer and victims advocate.

Since Lynn’s arrest, prosecutors in seven jurisdictions from California to New York have started exploring charges against priests’ superiors, according to Wall.

“Any time I’ve talked to a prosecutor and I’ve brought up Philadelphia, it gives them greater moral authority to do this,” he said. “Because most D.A.s were afraid to take on the Catholic Church.”

The trial comes seven years after another Philadelphia grand jury delivered a searing 418-page report that faulted archdiocesan leaders for their handling of sex-abuse claims. But that panel said it was hamstrung by laws that limited who could be charged and required sex crimes to be reported within a few years of occurring, despite advocates’ assertions that victims often wait decades to come forward.

For the latest investigation, District Attorney Seth Williams relied on an expanded statute of limitations and a 2007 amendment that made supervisors in child-care settings criminally culpable for abuse.

Lynn, the subject of withering criticism by the previous grand jury, became the primary target of the next one. “We believe that legal accountability for Msgr. Lynn’s unconscionable behavior is long overdue,” its report said.

While secretary for clergy between 1992 and 2004, prosecutors say, Lynn endangered children by recommending abusive priests for assignments that gave them access to children. They built their case around claims by two accusers, and with help from the archdiocese itself.

In January 2009, church officials forwarded to prosecutors a complaint that its victims’ assistance office received from the former St. Jerome’s altar boy. He was in the fifth grade in 1998, he said, when the Rev. Charles Engelhardt caught him drinking wine in the sacristy, began talking about sex, and told the boy they would soon have “sessions” on how to be a man. Engelhardt assaulted him a week later, he said.

The boy kept silent, but the cleric might not have. Prosecutors say Avery, who also lived at the parish, told the boy months later that he had heard about the “sessions” with Engelhardt and planned his own. Twice, Avery allegedly molested the boy in the church.

According to the grand jury, Lynn knew Avery had been removed from a Mount Airy parish over a sex-abuse allegation in 1992 and sent for treatment at St. John Vianney, a church-owned hospital. Prosecutors say the monsignor had recommended that Avery live at St. Jerome’s and work at nearby Nazareth Hospital, and was supposed to be monitoring Avery.

Now 69, Avery was defrocked in 2006. At least two more accusers have come forward since his arrest and could testify at the trial.

Engelhardt, 65, who belongs to the Oblates of St. Francis de Sales, an independent religious order, faces a separate trial. So does Bernard Shero, a 49-year-old former teacher at St. Jerome’s parish school accused of raping the same boy a year after the priests. Both argued they could not be part of an archdiocese conspiracy because they weren’t under Lynn’s supervision.

Brennan, 49, is charged with raping a 14-year-old boy while on leave from the archdiocese in 1996. Brennan allegedly targeted the boy after meeting him when both were at St. Andrew’s Church in Newtown, Bucks County. Prosecutors say the assault occurred after Lynn failed to act on complaints about Brennan’s misconduct with minors.

Defense lawyers are expected to hammer at the alleged victims’ accounts. The accusers, whose names are being withheld by The Inquirer, have histories of drug use, petty crime, and mental-health treatment. Both also have lawsuits pending against the archdiocese.

Brennan’s lawyer, William Brennan, who is unrelated, said Friday that his accuser had convictions for fraud, forgery, and theft – including stealing from his own family.

Lynn’s attorneys have targeted the law. In one of their many bids to derail the charges, and one that could seed an appeal, they contended Lynn can’t be guilty of endangering children in the 1990s because the statute didn’t apply to supervisors like him until 2007.

They also have challenged a pivotal February ruling by Sarmina, the judge, who said prosecutors can tell jurors about nearly two dozen other archdiocesan priests accused of sexual abuse over the last 40 years.

None of the others is charged in the case. But prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorneys Patrick Blessington and Mariana Sorensen, have maintained that jurors can’t properly weigh Lynn’s recommendations for Avery and Brennan without considering what he and other church leaders knew – and how they reacted to other complaints.

“It’s always been our position that this was an archdiocese-wide policy, which in and of itself was criminal in nature,” Blessington said.

The archdiocese is paying for Lynn’s defense team of four lawyers because the accusations involve his job. Still, it is not clear if the church’s and the monsignor’s interests coincide or conflict.

Last week, Lynn’s lawyers said the archdiocese had refused to turn over decade-old letters that they said could show its lawyers guided church policy and Lynn’s decisions on sex-abuse allegations.

The defense team also pounced on what it portrayed as the closest thing to a smoking gun in the case: notes found in a locked safe that suggest Bevilacqua ordered aides in 1994 to shred a memo identifying 35 area priests suspected of sexual misconduct.

The lawyers say the memo, written by Lynn, proves that his bosses – the cardinal and his top assistants, Bishops Edward Cullen and Joseph Cistone – lied when they told grand jurors that Lynn made the key decisions about what to do with predatory priests.

Bevilacqua, who ran the archdiocese from 1988 until 2003, died in January after years of failing health. Still, he could be a crucial witness. In November, Sarmina ruled him competent to testify, and let lawyers grill him for seven hours during a private deposition that jurors might see.

In court filings, Lynn’s attorneys portrayed the prelate as a weary, sometimes confused witness. But he also is said to have clearly denied any wrongdoing and instead implicated his former secretary for clergy.

With white hair, glasses, and a stout frame, Lynn has been the only defendant to attend nearly all the pretrial proceedings. He typically comes with his sister, with whom he has lived since being suspended. While Avery and Brennan occasionally chat or joke with their lawyers, Lynn’s somber visage almost never changes.

His last public comments on the scandal came after the 2005 grand jury report, one that cited him hundreds of times, usually in a critical way. “I would never put a child in harm’s way,” Lynn told his parishioners from the altar. “I’m going to leave that to your judgment.”

Last September, six months after his arrest, Lynn drew a standing ovation during a dinner that the archdiocese’s newly installed leader, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, hosted for priests. That same month, Chaput told an interviewer: “It’s really important to me, and I think to all of us, that he be treated fairly and that he not be a scapegoat.”

Lynn does evoke a certain amount of compassion in church circles, according to Nicholas Cafardi, a canon lawyer in Pittsburgh and author of a book about the U.S. bishops’ response to clergy sex abuse. “My read of the compassion is basically, ‘He did what he was asked to do, or what he was told to do.’ ”

Still, Cafardi said, the monsignor faces long odds of getting compassion from a jury. “There is no sympathy,” he said, “for the person in the dock in child-abuse cases.”

Stakes are high for church as ‘failure to report’ case unfolds against Kansas City bishop


http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-faith/stakes-are-high-for-church-as-failure-to-report-case-unfolds-against-kansas-city-bishop/2012/03/25/gIQAUhcqZS_story.html

Stakes are high for church as ‘failure to report’ case unfolds against Kansas City bishop

KANSAS CITY (MO)
Washington Post

March 25, 2012

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The charge is only a misdemeanor, but if prosecutors are able to win a conviction against Kansas City Roman Catholic Bishop Robert Finn, they could be opening up a whole new front in the national priest abuse crisis.

Finn is accused of violating Missouri’s mandatory reporter law by failing to tell state officials about hundreds of images of suspected child pornography found on the computer of a priest in his diocese.

Experts say a criminal conviction against Finn, the highest-ranking church official charged with shielding an abusive priest, could embolden prosecutors elsewhere to more aggressively pursue members of the church hierarchy who try to protect offending clergy.

“Cases can sit like land mines in files for a long time and suddenly come to light,” said Matthew Bunson, a senior fellow at the St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology and co-author of a book, “Pope Benedict XVI and the Sexual Abuse Crisis: Working for Reform and Renewal.” ‘’Those cases may ultimately involve leaders in the church.”

Finn and the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph each were charged last year with one count of failing to report. The case involves the Rev. Shawn Ratigan, who remains jailed on state and federal charges accusing him of producing and possessing child pornography. Both have pleaded not guilty, and a judge is scheduled to hear multiple motions in the case Tuesday, including one to dismiss the charges.

“We do not believe that either the facts or the law support a finding of guilt on the misdemeanor charges, and we look forward to a just and fair resolution of them,” the diocese told The Associated Press in an e-mailed statement.

Finn has acknowledged being told in December 2010 about hundreds of photographs of young children found on Ratigan’s laptop computer. Many of the photos focused on the crotch areas of young children who are clothed, though one series showed the exposed genitals of a girl thought to be 3 or 4 years old.

The bishop also has acknowledged that a parish principal warned the diocese of suspicious behavior by Ratigan, including that he was taking compromising pictures of children and let them sit on his lap and reach into his pocket for candy. Those warnings occured more than six months before the photos were found.

Instead of ordering the photos to be turned over to police, or telling the Missouri Children’s Division about them, Finn sent Ratigan out of state for a psychiatric evaluation. When Ratigan returned to Missouri, Finn sent him to the Sisters of St. Francis of the Holy Eucharist, where he would say Mass for the sisters and be away from children.

Only after the church received reports that Ratigan had violated orders from the diocese to stay away from children did the diocese turn over to police last May a disk containing the photos from Ratigan’s computer.

“From the church’s perspective, having your bishop declared a criminal is a big deal, even if it’s only a misdemeanor,” said Douglas Laycock, a religious liberty specialist at the University of Virginia School of Law. “For them, it’s not about the fine, it’s about the statement being made.”

The maximum sentence for the crime is a $1,000 fine and one year in jail, but there’s little chance the bishop would be put behind bars. Jackson County Prosecutor Jean Peters Baker said some people thought she shouldn’t have filed the charge against Finn, while others thought the charge should have been more serious.

“The prosecutor is not in the business of pleasing people,” she said.

Finn told a grand jury he thought Vicar General Robert Murphy was the diocese’s designated reporter. Murphy testified that even though he was head of a team formed to respond to claims of child sex abuse by priests, he had never been trained on being the mandatory reporter, nor officially assigned that duty.

Separation of church and state also is a significant issue for the church, Laycock said.

“Say a bishop has to report to police everything he knows about a priest under his supervision,” Laycock said. “If child abuse is involved, it may be a sensible and constitutional law. But it certainly intrudes on the supervisory relationship of a bishop and priest.”

Tuesday’s motions hearing comes a day after the trial begins in Philadelphia in a case involving Monsignor William Lynn, the first U.S. church official charged with child endangerment for keeping accused priests in the ministry.

Terry McKiernan of BishopAccountability.org, which manages a public database of records on clergy abuse cases, said the two cases represent a shift toward holding the Catholic Church hierarchy legally accountable for failing to warn parents or police about abusive priests.

“There’s been a lot of attention directed against the Ratigans of the world, but not a lot of attention until recently on the Finns of the world,” McKiernan said. “That’s what makes the church very nervous. It will be devastating for the church if the attention is directed at people like that.”