An archbishop covered up the crimes of Father Billy Baker

An archbishop covered up the crimes of Father Billy Baker

One of Australia’s most prominent Catholic leaders, Archbishop Frank Little, covered up complaints about a priest’s child-sex crimes, a Melbourne court was told. Despite knowing about Father Wilfred Baker’s crimes, Archbishop Little allowed Baker to be transferred to a new parish, thereby enabling this priest to commit more child-sex crimes.

Broken Rites first heard about Father Baker after Broken Rites launched its Australia-wide telephone hotline in late 1993. Broken Rites advised these callers that victims should contact the Victoria Police sexual offences and child abuse unit. As a result, detectives eventually charged Baker with child-sex crimes.

In the Melbourne County Court on 8 June 1999, Father Wilfred James Baker (then aged 62) was sentenced to four years’ jail, with parole after two years.

What the judge said

In a pre-sentence hearing on 7 June 1999, Judge Russell Lewis told the court that, at the Gladstone Park parish (in Melbourne’s north-west) in 1978, a family complained to the church that Father Billy Baker was misbehaving towards their young son. The judge said Melbourne’s Archbishop Frank Little was made aware of the complaint. Despite this (said the judge) Baker was then transferred from the Gladstone parish to Eltham (in Melbourne’s north-east).

“He continued with his criminality [at Eltham]”, the judge said.

The judge added: “In the past, there have been paedophile priests who have been moved around with the full knowledge of the hierarchy.”

Guilty plea

Wilfred Baker pleaded guilty to 16 counts of indecent assault and one of gross indecency, involving eight boys, aged 10 to 13, over a 20-year period between 1960 and 1979. Baker fondled the boys sexually in bed during weekend trips and rubbed himself against them.

The first boy was at a migrant camp in 1960 while Baker (then 24) was still training to be a priest. This boy was living at the migrant camp when Baker visited there with a church youth group.

The seven other boys, mostly altar boys, were all pupils at the parish schools in Baker’s various Melbourne parishes. They were all assaulted at the home of Baker’s parents in Maryborough, where they were forced to share a bedroom with Baker. In at least one incident, Baker gave alcohol to a boy before going to bed with him.

The priest’s background

Broken Rites has compiled the following summary of Baker’s career.

Billy Baker, the son of a doctor, was born on 1 July 1936. He boarded as a pupil at the Marist Brothers’ Assumption College, Kilmore (in central Victoria), where his nickname was “Turd” Baker.

He tried studying medicine at Melbourne University but ended up at the Melbourne Catholic seminary, Corpus Christi College. Ordained a priest in 1961, his parish appointments included Jordanville 1962-66, East Brighton 1966-68,Mordialloc 1968-69, Balaclava 1969-71, hospital chaplaincy 1971-74, Doveton 1974-75, Gladstone Park 1975-78,Eltham 1978-92 and North Richmond 1993-99.

All of these parishes, except North Richmond, were included among Baker’s 17 charged offences. This does not mean that Baker was well behaved at North Richmond. The archdiocese certainly received complaints from North Richmond families. It merely means that the North Richmond complaints did not reach the courts.

Father Baker was noted for hanging around young boys at the local parish schools and he also used to visit St Kevin’s College (Christian Brothers) in Toorak and Assumption College in Kilmore. He was notorious as an advocate of masturbation which he talked about constantly to boys and even to fellow-priests.

Bill Baker’s fellow-priests and superiors knew he was a problem for children at his early parishes, which would account for him being removed from parish work to hospital chaplaincy in 1971-4. It has been common for the archdiocese to “quarantine” a problem priest in hospital chaplaincy until the dust settles. Such a priest would then be put into a new parish, with his record covered up.

The 1978 cover-up

At Gladstone Park (Church of the Good Shepherd parish) in 1976-7, Baker befriended a local family who had a son “Damien” (then aged 12-13). Damien’s parents trusted Baker because priests were above suspicion. Baker would go to Damien’s bedroom to “help” with school work and would give him driving lessons, with the boy sitting on Baker’s knee in the car. He also took Damien away on trips and (it was revealed later) showered with him.

In 1978, Damien’s father complained about Baker to the chairman of the parish school board (Brian Cosgriff, who was also a magistrate). Brian Cosgriff consulted another Catholic layman (Brendan Murphy, who was a barrister). However, the two law men neglected to notify the police. Instead, they merely notified Archbishop Frank Little. Thus, the matter was concealed from the police, thereby endangering further victims.

Archbishop Little’s secretary (Monsignor Peter Connors, who later became the bishop of Ballarat) visited Damien’s family and soothed them, so that the matter was kept secret. (Connors had attended school with Baker at Assumption College, Kilmore, and the two are of similar age.)

Despite his obvious danger to young children, Baker was retained in the ministry and was transferred to Eltham. He was given a farewell function at Gladstone Park and the parishioners there were not told the real reason why he was leaving.

Likewise, the parishioners of Eltham (Our Lady Help of Christians parish) were not warned why he was arriving and he continued his criminal behaviour there. Eltham victims, particularly, would have a reason for suing the Melbourne diocese for damages for its negligence in retaining Baker in family ministry after Gladstone Park. Baker was the only priest at Eltham, so he was unsupervised.

At Baker’s final parish (North Richmond, St James’s parish), he was again the only priest — still unsupervised. Here, there were yet more complaints in 1994 by parents who refused to let their sons serve as altar boys for Baker.

Bishop Peter Connors (one of Melbourne’s four auxiliary bishops) compiled a report on Baker for the archdiocese but, again, Baker was allowed to remain in family ministry.

On 25 November 1993, after Broken Rites had sparked off an Australia-wide media debate about church sexual abuse, a Baker victim (“Gary”) wrote to the vicar-general (chief administrator) of the Melbourne archdiocese, Monsignor Gerald Cudmore, telling how Baker had sexually assaulted him at Jordanville (Mary Magdalen’s parish) in 1962. Gary’s letter criticised the diocese for its negligence in allowing a person such as Baker to become (and remain) a priest.

Gary added: “Despite the church’s preoccupation with sexual morality, which continues today and has tended to create a guilt industry among my generation, it was apparently lax in applying the same strict codes to its ministers.”

Gary gave a copy of this letter to Broken Rites but he never received a reply from Monsignor Gerry Cudmore or any other archdiocesan official. And the archdiocese continued having Baker as the Parish Priest at North Richmond.

The archdiocese intended to keep Baker in the ministry indefinitely but in 1996, as recommended by Broken Rites, one victim (“Keith”) finally contacted the police SOCA unit. Interviewed by police about this single complaint, Baker initially denied the charges and contemplated contesting this in court. But the police soon located more victims (including the above-mentioned Gary) and learned about the 1978 cover-up. Baker eventually gave in and pleaded guilty.


In mid-1997, realising that the game was up, the archdiocese sent Baker on “administrative leave”. A victim tipped off Melbourne’s Sunday Herald Sun, which broke the Baker story (including the Gladstone Park cover-up) on 15 June 1997. This paper quoted Bishop Peter Connors as saying that he knew in 1978 about the Gladstone Park incidents. In 1978, Connors was the vicar-general (chief administrator) of the archdiocese. (Incidentally, Connors had been a pupil at Assumption College about the same time as Baker.)

These eight witnesses were not Baker’s only victims. Several others had phoned Broken Rites but did not go to the police. Each of these boys knew of other possible Baker victims. Police learned about another victim who was seeing a psychiatrist but this victim declined to give evidence because he was now a religious Brother.

Baker’s barrister asked Judge Lewis for a lenient sentence and tabled some “good-character” evidence, including a written testimonial from a priest representing the diocese’s priests. Judge Lewis then raised the matter of the 1978 complaint and noted that this was still not being mentioned by the defence.

The court was told that the diocese was still paying Baker a living allowance in 1999. [Was this in addition to Baker’s entitlements under Commonwealth Government benefits and did the Department of Social Security know about it?]

In sentencing, Judge Lewis said the victims had been profoundly affected by the actions of Baker and by the inaction of the diocese.

At the time of sentencing, Baker was still listed in the July 1999 Catholic Directory as the current priest in charge of St James’s parish, North Richmond.

The Baker prosecution was prepared by detectives from the Sexual Crimes Squad in St Kilda Road, Melbourne.

Media discussion

Judge Lewis’s remarks at a pre-sentence hearing on 7 June 1999 were reported in the next day’s Herald Sun under the heading Church hid abuser priest”. The jail sentence, imposed on 8 June 1999, was reported by radio, television and newspapers. As a result, Broken Rites continued to receive calls from further Baker victims.

On 26 June 1999, journalist Kay O’Sullivan commented in the Herald Sun: “I might not practise the faith in which I was brought up, but I still feel shocked and betrayed by the church when I read of another member of the Catholic clergy who has abused the great trust and faith placed in them. . .

“The church has only itself to blame…

“The wider effect of this betrayal — and I am not talking just of individual cases of abuse but also of the church hierarchy’s refusal to acknowledge its problem — is immeasurable…

“It will take years, perhaps even generations, to repair the damage done to the church by these dreadful revelations…”

In reply to this, Ringwood parish priest Father Kevin Dillon wrote in the Herald Sun (1 July 1999): “The ‘cover-ups’ for which church authorities have been severely criticised were more an indication of a widespread misunderstanding of pedophilia in society as a whole, as well as in the church…”

[Father Dillon ignored the fact that child sex-abuse has long been a crime, and the church always knew this fact.]

Father Dillon said people should trust institutions such as the Catholic priesthood, “despite the reality that from time to time that trust is undeserved”.

Father Dillon’s plea for trust was criticised by another priest, Father Michael Shadbolt, who had recently become the parish priest of Doveton – Baker’s old parish.

Father Shadbolt wrote in the Herald Sun (6 July 1999): “There is little doubt that fear of harming faith in the priesthood as an institution contributed significantly to the church’s delay in cleansing its clergy of pedophiles. The consequences of that have been disastrous.

“To use that same thinking as an argument against Kay O’Sullivan’s just critique of the Catholic clergy seems singularly inappropriate. It may even be irresponsible.

“As an institution, we failed badly in this matter.

“There is no alternative but for decent priests, the overwhelming majority, to wear the opprobrium and work to recover the trust now forfeited. Sadly, as Kay said, it may take decades.”

A battered parish

Some of Father Billy Baker’s child-sex crimes occurred while he was ministering in the Doveton parish (in Melbourne’s outer south-east, near Dandenong) in 1974, and it is interesting to note that several other priests who served at this same parish have been the subject of complaints by parishioners over the years.

FATHER Thomas O’Keeffe was the Parist Priest at Doveton in 1974 (with Fr Wilfred Baker as his assistant). After action by Broken Rites, the Melbourne archdiocese has apologized to former altar boys of Keeffe. He ministered at parishes in Sandringham (early 1960s), Preston East and St Kilda West (late 1960s), Brighton (1969-71), Doveton and Thornbury (1970s).

FATHER Victor Rubeo was the Parish Priest at Doveton in the late 1970s and early ’80s. In 1996, he pleaded guilty to having indecently assaulted two boys in a previous parish, Laverton. The Laverton offences came to light while police were investigating complaints against Rubeo by a woman concerning an incident in the Doveton parish. The prosecution then decided to proceed against Rubeo in relation to the Laverton complaints rather than the Doveton ones.

FATHER Peter Searson was the Parish Priest of Doveton from 1984, to 1997. In March 1997, after police began investigating certain matters, Archbishop George Pell suspended Searson from parish work (Sunday Herald Sun, Melbourne, 23 March 1997, p.2).

Civil action against the church

In 2002, one of the victims in Baker’s 1999 criminal case threatened to take civil court action against the Melbourne Catholic Archdiocese, seeking damages for the church’s negligence in allowing Father Baker to commit sexual abuse. The victim, aged 35 in 2002, was a 12-year-old student at an Eltham parish primary school when Baker sexually assaulted him in 1979. In the 1999 criminal case, Baker pleaded guilty in relation to this victim. Eltham was one of Baker’s final parishes, and the Melbourne archdiocese had known about Baker’s previous offences.

In a statement of claim lodged at the office of the Melbourne County Court, the man said that the archdiocesan leaders ignored or chose to overlook Baker’s “known propensity to engage in sexual assaults”. The man claimed that the church leaders knew that Baker had been engaged in “illegal or inappropriate activities” but kept him on to avoid publicity.

The man said he still needed ongoing psychological treatment because of the abuse.

His claim alleged that that the church leaders failed to dismiss Baker, or remove him from any position in the archdiocese in which he could abuse children.

The man’s claim alleged that the church leaders concealed from parishioners their “knowledge of [Baker’s] proclivities.” It said the church leadership failed to detect pedophile priests, and failed to remove them.

The claim also said that the church leadership failed to supervise Baker and failed, once it knew of reports of Baker’s conduct in Gladstone Park, to warn Eltham students.

Broken Rites does not know the outcome of this victim’s civil action but he certainly had a strong case. Faced with a civil writ, the church normally offers to give a victim an out-of-court payment to settle the matter quietly.


Philly priest accuser: Feared hell for being gay

Philly priest accuser: Feared hell for being gay


PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former altar boy testified Thursday that he thought he was molested by a Roman Catholic priest as punishment for being gay.

He said he tried to hang himself at age 11 as he struggled with guilt over the alleged 1997 encounter.

“I remember trying to hang myself a lot. … Probably every week,” the young man testified in a Philadelphia courtroom in the trial of the Rev. Andrew McCormick. “I couldn’t deal with the guilt of what had happened, or what I am.”

McCormick, 57, is the latest Philadelphia priest to go on trial for long-ago alleged encounters, a result of updated state laws that give victims more time to come forward. He has pleaded not guilty.

The accuser is now 26 and works in management for a high-end design label. He described his career as “successful,” but said he had struggled with drugs and alcohol for a decade.

Describing the encounter at St. John Cantius Parish, he said that he was sexually assaulted after serving Mass one evening, on a “Holy Day of Obligation,” when Catholics must attend Mass. He went to the rectory afterward for cookies, and was invited to see McCormick’s living quarters, he said.

He said the priest then undressed and fondled him and tried to engage in a sexual act.

The boy’s mother by then suspected her 10-year-old son was gay, and had gone to the priest for counseling. The priest’s warnings to the boy about homosexuality made him feel “horrible,” the accuser said.

“If it’s a sin, it means I’m going to hell,” he said, his voice breaking at times.

The Associated Press does not typically identify people who say they are the victims of sexual assault without their consent.

Defense lawyers questioned why — if their client is a predator — no one else had come forward to accuse him. McCormick worked at a small Polish parish in northeast Philadelphia, and sometimes took boys to Poland.

Defense attorney William J. Brennan asked jurors not to pre-judge McCormick because of other abuse cases involving priests.

Philadelphia prosecutors have been investigating priest-abuse reports for more than a decade and have won several convictions. The most notable case, the child-endangerment conviction of Monsignor William Lynn, who long handled abuse complaints for the archdiocese, was recently thrown out on appeal. However, prosecutors have asked the state Supreme Court to reinstate it.

Assistant District Attorney Kristen Kemp told jurors not to expect any smoking guns in the McCormick case. Child sex-abuse cases often pit one person’s word against the other’s.

“This isn’t CSI, where some hair fiber is going to break the case,” she said, referring to the popular TV crime show.

The trial attracted about a dozen supporters each for McCormick and his accuser, and is scheduled to last through the end of next week.

Priest searched online for sexual images of children, according to police report

Priest searched online for sexual images of children, according to police report

Documents released Tuesday by the St. Paul police department in a closed investigation show that the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis knew in 2004 that a priest had searched online for sexual images of children.

• Betrayed by Silence: An MPR News Investigation

The police file of the investigation into alleged child pornography on the computer of the Rev. Jon Shelley includes a 2004 report from a private forensic examiner who reviewed the images on Shelley’s computer. It found that Shelley had searched the Internet for the terms “free naked boy pictures,” “blond boys sucking pics” and “preteen.” The examiner wrote the report for the archdiocese’s private investigator, who gave it to the chancery in 2004, according to the police file.

The archdiocese kept Shelley in ministry despite the report’s finding.

A spokesman for archdiocese declined to comment on why Shelley remained in ministry after church leaders learned he looked for pornographic images of minors. Shelley’s attorney did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

MPR News reported in October of last year that top church officials debated for months in internal memos whether the images from Shelley’s computer could be considered child pornography and concluded that they didn’t need to call police.

Archbishop John Nienstedt acknowledged in a private meeting of priests in December that he looked at some of the images and didn’t know if they depicted minors, according to a recording of the meeting obtained by MPR News. “Some of the images that were on Jon Shelley’s computer, I couldn’t tell if that was a 17-year-old or a 19-year-old. It was very difficult to be able to establish that, and I shouldn’t have to do that. The St. Paul police should have to do that, which is what they did.”

Police didn’t learn of the images until last year, when Jennifer Haselberger, the archdiocese’s chancellor for canonical affairs at the time, alerted the Ramsey County Attorney’s Office. Haselberger resigned in April in protest of the archdiocese’s handling of clergy sexual abuse. Two subsequent police investigations found no child pornography in the 1,303 images reviewed.

St. Paul Sgt. Bill Gillet wrote in his 2013 report that he would never know if he received all of the evidence. He noted that the archdiocese’s attorneys provided several discs that they said contained copies of the images but the hard drive was missing. In January, Washington County Attorney Pete Orput declined to file criminal charges.

According to the police file released Tuesday, an officer who reviewed the images in 2013 found five images that he classified as “age difficult images, meaning that it was unclear to him whether or not the person(s) depicted in the images were adults.”

Haselberger said she found the discs at the St. Paul chancery in late 2011 or early 2012. She said she notified Nienstedt in a memo and pointed him to a summary of the investigation that found the images “could be considered borderline illegal, because of the youthful-looking male image.” That summary, which Haselberger said was written by private investigator Richard Setter in 2004, wasn’t included in the police file released Tuesday.

Setter, who carried out investigations of priests for the archdiocese for more than a decade, told police that he had a policy of destroying records after five years and therefore no longer had his final report summarizing the investigation. Setter also said that he recently changed his policy and now destroys records after two years.

Nienstedt placed Shelley on a leave of absence in April 2013, a spokesman for the archdiocese said, after Haselberger notified law enforcement of the images. In a statement released late Tuesday, the archdiocese said that Shelley remains on a leave of absence “and is not involved in any ministry while the archdiocese continues to review this matter.”

The spokesman declined to say what happened to the priest’s hard drive. The police file released Tuesday said Setter told police that he dropped off the hard drive at the chancery on Oct. 21, 2004 after he completed his investigation.

Trial Begins for Priest Accused of Molesting Altar Boy

Trial Begins for Priest Accused of Molesting Altar Boy

A defense lawyer vowed not to attack the accuser’s character as the latest priest-abuse trial opened in Philadelphia.

But lawyer William Brennan Thursday asked why only one person has accused the Rev. Andrew McCormick of molestation during his 30 years as a priest.

A prosecutor said the accuser’s mother had gone to McCormick in the 1990s over concerns that her 10-year-old son was gay.

Authorities say McCormick then targeted the boy, and sexually assaulted him after Mass one day at St. John Cantius in Northeast Philadelphia.

Philadelphia prosecutors have investigated priest-abuse reports in Philadelphia for a decade, and won several sex-abuse convictions.

McCormick had been suspended by the church over a less serious allegation a year before the trial accuser came forward in 2012.

The charges against the 57-year-old priest include sexual assault, child endangerment and indecent exposure.

Philadelphia prosecutors have been investigating priest-abuse reports in Philadelphia for a decade, and have gained several sex-abuse convictions.

Authorities say McCormick regularly took boys on trips to Poland during his three decades as a Philadelphia-area priest.

An earlier judge had found the alleged abuse described by the accuser at a preliminary hearing did not meet the legal definition of the felony sexual assault charges. But Common Pleas Judge Paula Patrick reinstated the charges in October 2012.

IL- Commune accused of “rampant child sex abuse,” SNAP responds

IL- Commune accused of “rampant child sex abuse,” SNAP responds

For immediate release: Thursday, February 27, 2014

Statement by Barbara Dorris of St. Louis, Outreach Director of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (314-862-7688 home, 314-503-0003 cell,

New lawsuit in Chicago accuses a Christian commune of covering up “rampant” child sexual abuse.

Once again we see the same repeat pattern in the Uptown Jesus People USA’s behavior that we have seen over and over throughout our nation and the world.  A situation exists where there is a hierarchy of power, and a central belief system that promotes control over people and their daily lives.  From this unhealthy environment, comes unhealthy behaviors, including sexual abuse. This appears to be just another case.

The part that concerns us the most at SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, is the response that we see constantly by those in power. Those that were and are in a position of power have a responsibility to prevent, or at the very least to respond to, abuse of any kind as quickly as possible.  Here we see the typical pattern that occurs when a victim comes forward.  There is denial first and foremost, then they point out the statute of limitations, and refer inquiries to their lawyers.  

What should be glaringly apparent is that there is no reaching out to the victims, no cry for other possible victims to come forward, and no investigation in joint effort with civil authorities, to make sure the crisis is promptly addressed, victims treated and/or compensated, preventing future abuse and cover ups, and punishing those responsible.

Until this accountability is an automatic response to all forms of abuse, we will not be satisfied, and will not rest.

Depositions scheduled in priest abuse lawsuit

Depositions scheduled in priest abuse lawsuit

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) — Deposition dates have been set for top officials in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis in a lawsuit filed by a former altar boy who says he was abused in the 1970s.

Archbishop John Nienstedt will be deposed March 19 and the Rev. Kevin McDonough, a former vicar general of the archdiocese, will testify March 20. A Ramsey County judge recently rejected the archdiocese’s attempt to block the depositions of Nienstedt, McDonough and Father John Brown. The plaintiff’s attorney, Jeff Anderson, said Thursday Brown’s deposition has not been scheduled because the priest is ill.

The lawsuit against the archdiocese, the Diocese of Winona and former priest Thomas Adamson alleges sexual abuse by Adamson between 1976 and 1977 when he was assigned to a church in St. Paul Park.

Canada- Victims blast fundraiser for convicted archbishop

Canada- Victims blast fundraiser for convicted archbishop


Sex abuse victims are criticizing a fundraiser for an archbishop convicted of child sexual abuse. The group is also urging leaders of five institutions to cancel the event or discourage attendance at it.

Members of SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, are upset about a March 5th fundraiser to benefit Archbishop Seraphim Storheim, who was found guilty last month of child sexual abuse. Storheim is the former head of the Archdiocese of Canada of the Orthodox Church in America (OCA). He has been suspended by the OCA while he awaits church discipline.

SNAP believes the event “hurts at least one child sex abuse victim and deters other child sex abuse victims from speaking up.” The fundraiser will be held at the Woodroffe United Church in Ottawa. The Woodroffe parish belongs to the United Church of Canada.

Performing at the concert will be the Illinois Wesleyan Piano Quartet. According to the concert flyer, all members of the ensemble are professors at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU) in the United States.

SNAP has sent letters denouncing this event to:

Orthodox Church in America

Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard, Tel: 516-922-0550

Archdiocese of Canada

Bishop Irenee Rochon, Tel: 613-223-7780

United Church of Canada

Tel: 416-231-5931

Woodroffe United Church in Ottawa

Rev. Jan Lougheed, Tel: 613 722-9250 x226

Rev. Matt Gallinger, Tel: 613 722-9250 x223

llinois Wesleyan University

Richard Wilson, President, Tel: 309-556-3151

Jonathan Green, Provost and Dean of Faculty, Tel: 309-556-3101

Mario Pelusi, Director of the School of Music, Tel: 309-556-3075 

The gathering is sponsored by what SNAP calls “a small but loud group which keeps supporting a convicted child molester.”

It’s not exactly clear who is responsible for the fundraiser’s website. However, its webmaster is Alexander Ovodov (604-904-9550,, a parishioner at Sobor of the Holy Resurrection in Vancouver, British Columbia (Rector: Archpriest Mikhail Fourik 604-325-1922 work, 604-322-0024 home,

“What are these callous people thinking?” asked Cappy Larson of SNAP. “Archbishop Seraphim has been found guilty in court. He may not even appeal his conviction. Yet in complete disregard for the feelings of the victim, and the feelings of other victims, church officials are letting a small group raise money to help a convicted child molester.”

“Victims who’ve been sexually violated by Orthodox clerics should not have to see or hear about other Orthodox raising money for a proven predator,” said Melanie Jula Sakoda, also of SNAP. “Church officials can and should prevent – or at least publicly denounce – this kind of incredibly insensitive and intimidating behavior.”

“And why are the Woodroffe parish and Illinois Wesleyan University allowing themselves to be associated with this travesty?” Larson continued. “They should know better. They should reconsider lending their names and resources to an event that will only scare and depress other victims of other predators into staying silent instead of speaking up.”

SNAP is asking Metropolitan Tikhon Mollard and Bishop Irenee Rochon to:

–denounce the event and use their influence to persuade event organizers to cancel it,

— forbid OCA employees and discourage parishioners from attending Storheim’s fundraiser,

— post and distribute copies of a brochure called “What to do when your priest is accused,”

–“do all they can” to prevent others from holding similar events supporting those convicted of committing child sex crimes, and

— aggressively reach out to anyone else who may have seen, suspected or suffered crimes by Storheim or any other OCA priest.

SNAP is also writing to the leadership of the Woodroffe church and the United Church of Canada, asking them to:

–denounce this event and immediately withdraw their support of Storheim’s fundraiser,

— forbid their employees and discourage parishioners from attending Storheim’s fundraiser, and

–“do all they can” to prevent others from holding similar events supporting those convicted of committing child sex crimes in their churches.

Finally, SNAP is writing to the leadership of IWU, asking them to:

— denounce this event,

— forbid their employees from participating in Storheim’s fundraiser, and

–“do all they can” to prevent others from participating in similar events supporting those convicted of committing child sex crimes.

“If these leaders’ do nothing,” Sakoda says, “They are siding with the criminal and re-victimizing the victim. And they are making it harder for the ten year old girl in another church who’s being molested now by her teacher or the 11 year old boy in another parish who’s being sexually abused now by his step-father.”

“People who want to support the convicted archbishop should do so privately. Visible, public support for predators scares other child sex abuse victims. It discourages them from reporting crimes and thus it endangers more innocent kids,” said Sakoda.

Storheim is free on bail until his sentencing.

Priest who sexually assaulted young sisters has success in appeals court.

Priest who sexually assaulted young sisters has success in appeals court .

New evidence was produced at the Appeals Court in Belfast regarding the conviction of  Father Eugene Lewis of the White Fathers Order and three sisters from County Fermanagh. The case ran for four weeks in 2011, following which Father Lewis was convicted of eleven charges of indecent assault. However, after the charges were appealed, the Court upheld eight of the charges but ruled that three others were unsafe. The Court of Appeal considered the matters and handed down a ruling which was published by the Court Service of Northern Ireland this week. Father Lewis was 76 years old at the time of his trial in May 2011, when he was found guilty of eleven charges of sexual abuse of the three sisters, on dates between August 1963 and September 1973, the girls being as young as seven years old at the time. The court heard that the abuse had been carried out at the children’s family home, after the priest had become friendly with their parents. During the trial, the prosecuting QC, Ken McMahon, had commented that Father Lewis had appeared to have ‘wormed his way’ into the family and noted that, whilst he was welcome at the family home at any time, he often chose to go there at bedtime or Saturday bath night. A fourth sister gave evidence during the trial, of an alleged sexual assault against her, by the defendant, at St Augustine’s College, Blacklion; however no charge arose from that allegation. While eight indecent assault charges, involving two of the sisters, have been upheld, all three charges of abuse carried out against the third sister have been found to have been unsafe, during the appeal process. The charges which were found to be unsafe were alleged to have occurred, firstly, between 27th August 1963 and 26th August 1965, when the complainant was seven to eight years old, with the second charge being between the same dates, and the third being between 27th August 1965 and 26th August 1967. The decision to throw out the three charges stemmed from fresh evidence in the case, with regard to further medical disclosure regarding the sister in question. While some medical records from the woman’s GP had been disclosed during the trial, other medical evidence had remained confidential. When this information was later accessed, it was revealed that, during treatment for other matters, investigation was made into her past, at which stage she claimed that she had never been sexually abused, neither did she make any reference to allegations against Father Lewis in this context. It was argued that this could be seen as constituting a complete contradiction of her evidence during the trial. Moreover, the Appeal Court judges pointed out that, had this medical information been made available to the defence at the time of the original trial, counsel would have cross-examined the woman regarding her statement that she had never been sexually abused. It was argued that this may have caused the Jury to have looked at matters in a different light. The eight charges against Father Lewis which were upheld by the Court of Appeal involved the indecent assault of the other two sisters. One child was sexually assaulted between 23rd May 1965 and 22 May 1969, when she was seven or eight years of age. Whilst the grounds of appeal included the claim that too much time had elapsed since the offences had occurred, for the defendant to receive a fair trial, this was not upheld by the Appeal Court. Likewise, the suggestion that the trial Judge had been wrong to have allowed a comment made by the defendant that St Louise’s School, where he had worked, was a ‘girls’ factory’ to be admitted as evidence, was also rejected. – See more at:

Pope Francis says Church needs better bishops

Pope Francis says Church needs better bishops

VATICAN CITY – In another strongly worded message to the Catholic hierarchy, Pope Francis told the Vatican body that vets nominees for bishops that they need to find him better candidates to send to dioceses around the world.

“To choose such ministers we all need to raise our sights, to move to a higher level,” Francis told the Congregation for Bishops, the critical department of the Roman Curia that acts as a clearinghouse for bishop nominees, Feb. 27. “We can’t do anything less, and we can’t be content with the bare minimum.”

On consecutive days last weekend, Francis delivered stern warnings to 19 new cardinals he appointed to join about 150 others in the College of Cardinals: On Feb. 22, he told them to avoid “rivalry, jealousy, factions,” and at a Mass in the Vatican the next day, he said they must reject “habits and ways of acting typical of a court: intrigue, gossip, cliques, favouritism and preferences.”

Francis also has repeatedly called on clerics to live simply and humbly, and in his address to the cardinals and staff who make up the Congregation for Bishops, Francis said that self-denial and sacrifice are written into the bishop’s DNA.

He exhorted them to find “authentic” pastors who display “professionalism, service and holiness of life.”

Bishops, he continued, should be “guardians of doctrine, not to measure how far the world lives from the truth it contains, but to fascinate the world, to enchant the world with the beauty of love, to seduce it with the free gift of the Gospel.”

“The Church doesn’t need apologists for their own agendas or crusaders for their own battles,” he added, “but humble and faithful sowers of the truth.”

Since he was elected nearly a year ago, Francis has made it clear that he wants to improve the quality of bishops and that he will have no patience for ambitious ladder-climbers who are always looking for a bigger diocese or a cardinal’s hat.

The Pope has blasted hierarchical “careerism” as “a form of cancer” and derided bishops who strut about in Church finery as “peacocks.” He has called on bishops to be pastors who are close to the flock and not “airport bishops” who buzz around the world padding their resumes.

Francis also repeated the words from a speech last June about the kind of bishops he wants, reiterating that candidates should not have the “psychology of princes” and they should not commit “adultery” by constantly seeking another diocese. He asked the congregation to prepare a new document about the rules on how much time bishops should spend in their dioceses.

Under the current system, when a diocese needs a new bishop the papal representative, or nuncio, in each country consults with clergy and others in the diocese and national hierarchy and sends a list of candidates and their dossiers to the Congregation for Bishops in Rome.

The congregation’s members — about 30 cardinals and bishops who work at the Vatican or fly in from their own dioceses — meet periodically to vet the candidates before sending a list of three names to the Pope; he usually chooses from that list but can sometimes pick another candidate.

Church officials in Rome say Francis has not always been satisfied with the nominees he’s been given and wants to push to change the type of candidates.

In December, Francis raised eyebrows in U.S. Church circles when he dropped two influential conservatives from the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Raymond Burke and Cardinal Justin Rigali, both of whom reportedly wielded great influence in pushing appointments to the U.S. hierarchy under Pope Benedict XVI. Francis added Washington’s Cardinal Donald Wuerl, who is considered a more moderate and pragmatic bishop, instead.

Cardinal O’Brien faces prospect of further action against him by Vatican

Cardinal O’Brien faces prospect of further action against him by Vatican

Scottish Cardinal Keith O’Brien is facing the possibility of further disciplinary action being taken against him by the Holy See.

Today his successor as Archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh, Leo Cushley, was due to arrive in Rome for a five-day visit where he is expected to discuss the issue.

Cardinal O’Brien stepped down just over a year ago after allegations of sexual misconduct were made against him by five men, four of them priests. Last May the Vatican ordered him to spend time in prayer and penance outside of Scotland and Archbishop Cushley has said publicly that he should not return.

According to his spokesman, Archbishop Cushley has “listened to the parties concerned and will transmit any information provided to him to the Holy See”, adding that he will “assist in any way he can in order to help bring a just and equitable conclusion to the matter for all involved.”

He pointed out, however, that any decision on whether further action should be taken rests with Pope Francis. It is possible that the Pope could revoke O’Brien’s status as a cardinal. In 1927 Pope Pius XI accepted Cardinal Louis Billot’s resignation from the College of Cardinals following a dispute with the Pope over Billot’s support for the far-right movement, Action Française.

It is understood that those who made the allegations against Cardinal O’Brien want a church investigation into what happened.

Cardinal O’Brien is still living in England although he returned to Scotland at New Year to visit his friend Canon Matt McManus, parish priest of St Peter in Chains, Ardrossan in the Diocese of Galloway.

Another friend said: “Surely he has been punished enough, and has shown true repentance for his failings? To pursue a further case now is both unjust and unchristian and suggests that vengeance or some political agenda is the real motive.”