Diocese reveals abuse allegation against retired Mackville priest
Werner denies claim of abusing minor in 1970s
A retired priest has been accused of abusing a minor in the 1970s, the Catholic Diocese of Green Bay announced Saturday.
The Rev. Justin N. Werner denies the allegation, the diocese said in a statement. The abuse is alleged to have happened at St. Edward Parish in Mackville, which is in Outagamine County.
Justine Lodl, director of communications with the diocese, declined further comment on the matter, saying it remains under investigation.
The diocese said Werner is being “temporarily restricted from performing any public ministry pending the outcome of a complete review of these matters, which includes an investigation by an independent professional investigator.”
The diocese said it notified civil authorities of the allegations as part of its mandatory reporting policy. It is assisting the alleged victim and Werner, the release stated.
“Making this statement is a good start,” Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests said in a statement. “The diocese now has to make sure parishes where Werner has been conducting ministry… are asked to help the police with any information on the case.”
An Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department official said Saturday they did not have a report, but that it could have gone directly to the investigations department, which was closed Saturday.
Earlier this week, the Archdiocese of Milwaukee said it will release thousands of pages of documents tied to sexual abuse lawsuits, including depositions with some former top officials.
The archdiocese, which had been fighting the documents’ release, made its announcement the day before the matter was to be decided in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Milwaukee. The archdiocese filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in January 2011 to deal with about 500 sex abuse claims. Lawyers representing the men and women who filed the claims had been seeking the documents’ release.
The documents include depositions by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan, who previously led the Milwaukee archdiocese, as well as by former Milwaukee Archbishop Rembert Weakland and retired Bishop Richard Sklba. Victims’ advocates have accused archdiocese leaders of transferring abusive priests to other parishes and concealing their crimes for decades.
The archdiocese said it will post the documents on its website by July 1. The documents will also include items from priests’ personnel files and the files of bishops and other church leaders.
— The Associated Press and Gannett Media Wisconsin contributed to this article
Pope Benedict’s Legacy Marred by Sex Abuse Scandal
By RUSSELL GOLDMAN Feb. 11, 2013
As the sex abuse scandal spread from North America to Europe, Benedict became the first pope to meet personally with victims, and offered repeated public apologies for the Vatican’s decades of inaction against priests who abused their congregants.
“No words of mine could describe the pain and harm inflicted by such abuse,” the pope said in a 2008 homily in Washington, D.C., before meeting with victims of abuse for the first time. “It is important that those who have suffered be given loving pastoral attention.” During the same trip to the U.S., he met with victims for the first time.
For some of the victims, however, Benedict’s actions were “lip service and a public relations campaign,” said Jeff Anderson, a Minnesota lawyer who represents victims of sex abuse. For 25 years, Benedict, then known as Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, headed the Vatican office responsible for investigating claims of sex abuse, but he did not act until he received an explicit order from Pope John Paul II.
In 1980, as Archbishop of Munich, Ratzinger approved plans for a priest to move to a different German parish and return to pastoral work only days after the priest began therapy for pedophilia. The priest was later convicted of sexually abusing boys.
In 1981, Cardinal Ratzinger became head of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – the office once known as the Inquisition — making him responsible for upholding church doctrine, and for investigating claims of sexual abuse against clergy. Thousands of letters detailing allegations of abuse were forwarded to Ratzinger’s office.
A lawsuit filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights on behalf of the Survivors’ Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP), a victims’ rights group, charges that as head of the church body Ratzinger participated in a cover-up of abuse. In an 84-page complaint, the suit alleges that investigators of sex abuse cases in several countries found “intentional cover-ups and affirmative steps taken that serve to perpetuate the violence and exacerbate the harm.”
“Ratzinger, now Pope Benedict XVI, either knew and/or some cases consciously disregarded information that showed subordinates were committing or about to commit such crimes,” the complaint says.
Jeffrey Lena, the Vatican’s lawyer in the U.S., told the AP the complaint was a “ludicrous publicity stunt and a misuse of international judicial processes.”
In the 1990s, former members of the Legion of Christ sent a letter to Ratzinger alleging that the founder and head of the Catholic order, Father Marcial Maciel, had molested them while they were teen seminarians. Maciel was allowed to continue as head of the order.
In 1996, Ratzinger didn’t respond to letters from Milwaukee’s archbishop about a priest accused of abusing students at a Wisconsin school for the deaf. An assistant to Ratzinger began a secret trial of the priest, Father Lawrence Murphy, but halted the process after Murphy wrote a personal appeal to Ratzinger complaining of ill health.
In 2001, Pope John Paul II issued a letter urging the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith to pursue allegations of child abuse in response to calls from bishops around the world.
Ratzinger wrote a letter asserting the church’s authority to investigate claims of abuse and emphasizing that church investigators had the right to keep evidence confidential for up to 10 years after the alleged victims reached adulthood.
Ratzinger became upset — and slapped Ross’s hand — when ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross asked him a question in 2002 about the delay in pursuing sex abuse charges against Maciel.
But by 2004, Ratzinger had ordered an investigation of Maciel, and after becoming pope, he ordered Maciel to do penance and removed him from the active priesthood. After becoming pope Benedict spoke openly about the crisis, but he was repeatedly accused of having participated in a coverup.
In April 2010, Benedict and other officials were accused by members of BishopAccountability.org of covering up alleged child abuse by 19 bishops.
At the time, the Pope told reporters he was “deeply ashamed” of the allegations of sex abuse by his subordinates and reportedly said, “We will absolutely exclude pedophiles from the sacred ministry.”
Several other accusations followed from alleged victims around the world, prompting Benedict to make a public statement later that month from St. Peter’s Square in the Vatican. In his speech, he said the Catholic Church would take action against alleged sexual abusers. The Pope described a tearful meeting in Malta with eight men who claimed to have been abused by clergy there.
“I shared with them their suffering, and with emotion, I prayed with them,” said Benedict, “assuring them of church action.”
In 2010, he personally apologized to Irish victims of abuse.
“You have suffered grievously, and I am truly sorry,” the pope wrote in an eight-page letter to Irish Catholics. “Your trust has been betrayed and your dignity has been violated.”
But for those who advocate on behalf of the victims, the pope’s words did not go far enough.
“Tragically, he gets credit for talking about the crisis,” said David Clohessy, executive director of SNAP. “He only ever addressed the crimes and never the cover-ups. And only in the past tense, which is self-serving. Sex crimes and cover-ups are still happening.”
Clohessy called the meetings the pope had with victims “symbolic gestures.”
“This controversy that has reached even the highest office of the Vatican won’t go away until the pope himself tells us what he knew, when he knew it, and what he’s going to do about it,” said the Rev. Richard McBrien, a Catholic priest and professor of theology at Notre Dame University.
Lena, the Vatican’s U.S. lawyer, declined to comment on charges that Benedict had participated in a cover up, but said the fact that two major cases against the Church in U.S. courts, including the Murphy case, had “been dismissed by the plaintiffs themselves, speaks volumes for the strength and integrity of those cases.”
Cardinals Dolan and Mahony quizzed on child abuse
21 February 2013 Last updated at 14:38 ET
From the link: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-21539070
Two US cardinals due to go to Rome to help elect a new pope are being questioned about cases of child abuse by priests under their supervision.
Cardinal Timothy Dolan testified about his release of names of accused clergy members in his former archdiocese.
Cardinal Roger Mahony will be questioned on Saturday about a Mexican priest accused of abusing 26 children.
Pope Benedict XVI unexpectedly said last week he would retire, becoming the first pontiff to do so since 1415.
Cardinal Dolan, 62, also the Archbishop of New York and president of the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, has been seen as a long-shot candidate for the papacy.
His deposition came during a bankruptcy trial filed in 2011 by Cardinal Dolan’s successor to the archdiocese of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, over abuse claims from nearly 500 people.
The scandal has seen the removal of several church officials, including another former archbishop.
A spokesman for Cardinal Dolan said he was eager to co-operate with lawyers on the trial.
“He has indicated over the past two years that he was eager to co-operate in whatever way he could,” said spokesman Joseph Zwilling.
The plaintiffs have said the evidence given by Cardinal Dolan would help them to establish when church officials first became aware of the abuse allegations and victims.
Current Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki has said the church is seeking bankruptcy protection so it can continue to operate, while still compensating victims.
It is the eighth US diocese to take such action.
A spokesman said Cardinal Dolan’s decision to make public the names of suspected abusers was part of a wider effort to begin the healing process.
But the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests is asking for the cardinal’s testimony to be made public.
Cardinal Dolan “did a lot of creative maneuvering of priest sex offenders and creative accounting of church money,” said Peter Isley, a director of the group.
Calls to withdraw
Meanwhile, Cardinal Mahony is due to provide evidence in a separate case over visiting Mexican priest Reverend Nicolas Aguilar Rivera.
Police believe he abused 26 children in 1987 and fled to Mexico a year later when parents complained.
He has been removed from the priesthood and is still a fugitive.
In recent weeks, the archdiocese of Los Angeles has released thousands of documents concerning over 120 accused clergy members.
The papers showed Cardinal Mahony and other church officials protected some of those accused and made no effort to warn churchgoers about the risk to their children.
There are mounting calls for Cardinal Mahony to withdraw from the conclave. But in blog and Twitter posts the cardinal has indicated he intends to go to Rome.
Father Santiago Tamayo one of a group of priests that assaulted teen girl
The case files of Father Santiago Tamayo and Father Angel Cruces read like lurid dime-store novels.
Appropriately enough, the tales of how Tamayo, Cruces and five other priests sexually assaulted a 16-year-old girl were fodder for the tabloids in the 1980s, which dubbed it “Snow White and the Seven Priests.”
The tale went public when victim Rita Milla came forward after becoming pregnant at age 19. Milla, a parishioner at St. Philomena church in Carson, told church officials in 1983 she was pressured by Tamayo to have an abortion, and she eventually went to the Philippines to have her daughter.
One of the documents in the newly released files includes a denial by Tamayo that he encouraged an abortion.
Also included is a letter the teen gave to church officials in 1983 but never sent to the priest who she believed fathered the child, Father Valentine Tugade. Tugade’s paternity was finally proven by a DNA test in 2003, but in 2007 Milla’s attorney, Gloria Allred, told reporters they did not know if he was still alive.
“Val, Why the hell haven’t you written me or called me,” Milla wrote. “Aren’t you interested to know how I am or how your baby is? You make me extremely angry. I’ve cried so many times because of your lack of concern.”
She also asks him for his blood type and for money to help with her hospital and delivery costs.
That was around the same time that Tamayo and the other priests fled to the Philippines to escape criminal investigation and civil litigation.
Tamayo’s file is dominated by memos and correspondence between Cardinal Roger Mahony and Monsignor Thomas Curry, the vicar of clergy, on how to keep Tamayo out of the country. There is also a letter in the file written to the cardinal in 2002 from a man alleging he was also abused by Tamayo.
Tamayo resigned as a pastor in 1984 and was placed on active leave by the archdiocese, though he continued to work as a priest in the Philippines. Tamayo died in 1996. Cruces died that same year.
Milla eventually received $500,000 as part of the record $660 million sex abuse settlement in 2007 from the L.A. Archdiocese following a decades-long legal battle. More importantly, she says is the vindication she received with the public admission of guilt and apology issued by an ailing Tamayo in 1991.
Today, Milla is an activist with the group Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests.
She said in an interview Friday she tried to steel herself for the release of the new documents but she still was unprepared for the fresh wave of hurt and crushing depression that it triggered.
“I saw the letter, and I must have written it, but I don’t remember it,” she said. “It was a shock. I guess I just totally repressed it. I blocked so much out.”
Now 50, she works as a medical assistant. Her daughter, now 30, is getting married soon, and Milla also has a son, now 23, with her husband Scott Lewis.
“My kids were raised without religion, so they are happy,” Milla said.
Group to share list of accused Catholic clerics
by Elizabeth Dunbar, Minnesota Public Radio
The group delivered the list in May Day baskets to the Archdiocese of Minneapolis and St. Paul, the Diocese of Winona and the Diocese of New Ulm.
Bob Schwiderski, the group’s director, said most of the people on the list have already been accused through police reports, court documents or media reports.
“There’s been a decision made to bring those names out for the benefit of those still suffering in silence and with a hope that the religious leaders in the Catholic Church in this state realize how important it is to reach out to those same people,” Schwiderski said.
Members also spoke for the first time about a cleric accused of abusing children in Golden Valley, Schwiderski said.
The goal is to bring the incidents out in the open and help victims heal, he said.
“It’s time to stop the silence,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing today by putting the names together that we know of, we’re showing people, we’re showing society, we’re showing our religious leaders: Let’s stop the insanity of hiding this stuff.”
The Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis issued a statement saying any complaints officials have received are made known to those affected. The statement also says the list accuses some priests who have already been cleared of wrongdoing.
Priest indicted on federal sex crime charge
Feds say Poandl took boy to W.Va., sexually assaulted him
CINCINNATI —A federal grand jury has indicted a Fairfield priest with transportation of a minor across state lines for illicit purposes.
Poandl was moved from his ministry assignment in Georgia when the allegation came to light and brought to Cincinnati. He has not publicly functioned as a Catholic priest since he was moved.
FBI agents descended on Glenmary Home Missionaries in Fairfield on Thursday. A spokeswoman for the missionary said they came with a warrant for Poandl’s arrest.
Poandl was traveling at the time, the spokeswoman said, and turned himself in to the Kenwood FBI office, where he’ll answer to the federal charge.
“I was yelling hooray for the victims and for kids,” said Judy Jones, associate director of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests. “Hopefully they can’t be harmed anymore by this predator.”
Jones said Poandl was indicted in this same case two years ago but the charges were dismissed.
Glenmary’s president issued this statement saying, “We have just learned of these charges today, and we are working to fully comply with the subpoena and cooperate with investigators.”
Jones said she has been in touch with several alleged victims. They didn’t want to be interviewed for fear of compromising the investigation, but they wanted to get a message across.
If convicted, Poandl faces up to 10 years in prison.
Vatican Not Priests’ Employer, U.S. Judge Says
PORTLAND, Ore. — The Vatican won a major victory Monday in an Oregon federal courtroom, where a judge ruled that the Holy See is not the employer of molester priests.
The decision by U.S. District Court Judge Michael Mosman ends a six-year question in the decade-old case and could shield the Vatican from possible monetary damages.
The original lawsuit was filed in 2002 by a Seattle-area man who said the Rev. Andrew Ronan repeatedly molested him in the late 1960s.
The plaintiff tried to show that Ronan and all priests are employees of the Vatican, which is therefore liable for their actions.
Mosman made a previous decision strictly on legal theory and determined that, if all the factual assertions made by the plaintiff’s lawyers in the case were true and applicable, then the Vatican would indeed employ Ronan. But on Monday, Mosman said he looked at the facts in the case and didn’t find an employer-employee relationship.
“There are no facts to create a true employment relationship between Ronan and the Holy See,” Mosman said in his ruling from the bench.
Jeff Anderson, attorney for the plaintiff, said he will appeal the decision.
“While we’re disappointed, of course, we’re not discouraged,” Anderson said.
Vatican attorney Jeff Lena said the case should put to rest the notion that the Holy See is liable for the actions of priests.
“This is a case in which, for the first time, a court in the U.S. has taken a careful, factual look at whether or not a priest in the U.S. can be viewed as an employee of the Holy See and the answer, unequivocally, was no,” Lena said.
The case is the last major U.S. sex abuse lawsuit against the Holy See. Cases in Kentucky and Wisconsin have been dropped in recent years.
The plaintiffs argued that what they contend was Ronan’s fealty to the Pope, the Vatican’s ability to promote priests, the Vatican’s laicization – or removal – process, and the ability to change priests’ training all pointed to the Vatican employing priests.
“We believe that under further scrutiny,” Anderson said in a news release, “the courts will find that Vatican protocols and practice make it clear that obedience to Rome required the secrecy and concealment practiced by priests and bishops as the clergy abuse crisis unfolded in the United States.”
Lena said the Vatican had little to do with the laicization process unless a priest appealed, and points out that the appellate court will not further scrutinize the facts, but rather the application of the law in the case.
The impact of Mosman’s ruling on other priest sex-abuse cases is not yet clear. The case has gone further than any other in attempting to get at the relationship between priests in the U.S. and the Vatican.
Douglas Laycock, a University of Virginia School of Law professor, said lawsuits against the Pope are usually dismissed on sovereign immunity grounds, with a U.S. court ruling that the Vatican can’t be sued because there is no jurisdiction in the U.S. to do so.
“This was likely filed more to make a political statement,” Laycock said.
Mosman took up several hypothetical analogies while questioning attorneys for both sides. He said that, for instance, the Oregon legal bar has many of the same powers over lawyers as the Vatican has over priests: It can disbar someone and issue sanctions, just as the Vatican can laicize priests, but doing so doesn’t constitute a firing.
The plaintiffs were trying to show that, by exerting control, the Vatican was the priests’ employer.
Mosman said that if he accepted the plaintiff’s argument that the Vatican maintains absolute control over all priests, and is therefore their employer, then all Catholics everywhere could similarly be considered employees of the Holy See.
After the ruling, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, director David Clohessy said in a statement that the Vatican wants “to have their cake and eat it too” by varying their definition of the church, sometimes calling it a top-down hierarchical institution and other times asserting that only locals have control over their employee – an assertion Lena said flies in the face of an appellate court ruling in 2009 and Monday’s decision by Mosman.
“It’s a shame that, once again, top Catholic officials successfully exploit legal technicalities to keep clergy sex crimes and cover ups covered up,” Clohessy said. “The truth is that the Vatican oversees the church worldwide, insisting on secrecy in child sex cases and stopping or delaying the defrocking of pedophile priests.”