Archdiocese could close 3 more Lower Bucks parishes

Archdiocese could close 3 more Lower Bucks parishes


Three more Lower Bucks County parishes have been targeted for closing by the Philadelphia Archdiocesan Strategic Planning Commission. This is the second round of announcements released by the commission this week.

St. Ann Parish in Bristol, Our Lady of Fatima and St. Elizabeth Ann Seton parishes — both in Bensalem — will close if Archbishop Charles Chaput approves the panel’s recommendations. A final decision will be announced May 30


Law triggered after Muswellbrook priest abuse claims

Law triggered after Muswellbrook priest abuse claims

THE Office of the Children’s Guardian is conducting a risk assessment of a Muswellbrook Catholic priest over historic child abuse allegations.

Father John Alexander stood aside from parish ministry in November last year  after the allegations triggered the need for a risk assessment under new child protection legislation.

He will remain on leave until the office provides a risk assessment for his ‘‘working with children’’ check, Maitland-Newcastle Diocese vicar-general Brian Mascord said.

Muswellbrook parishioners were advised of the priest’s status in a statement by Bishop Bill Wright.

The priest was the subject of ‘‘third-party accusations relating to incidents that were alleged to have occurred almost 30 years ago, prior to his becoming a priest’’, Father Mascord said.

The allegations had been investigated before and finalised.

‘‘Under the new child protection legislation introduced on June 15 … [2013], everyone in child-related work must now apply for a new ‘working with children check’ clearance from the Office of the Children’s Guardian,’’ Father Mascord said.

He added that ‘‘Father Alexander ensured he was one of the very first people to apply for the new clearance … ’’

A spokeswoman for the Diocese said that once an outcome is received, it would be communicated to Muswellbrook parishioners.

‘‘The Diocese fully supports the process currently being conducted by the Office of the Children’s Guardian,’’ she said.

Father Alexander is  listed on the Catholic Diocese of Maitland-Newcastle website  as administrator of the Muswellbrook parish.

He was raised in Mayfield, served in the navy and 17 years as a religious brother with a missionary before becoming a priest in December 2004.

Fr Eugene Boland steps down from County Tyrone ministry

Fr Eugene Boland steps down from County Tyrone ministry


A priest who was acquitted in 2012 of sexual assault charges has resigned from ministry in the Diocese of Derry.

Fr Eugene Boland, a parish priest in Cappagh, County Tyrone, stepped aside four years ago while allegations were investigated.

He had resumed his duties just two weeks ago, after it was confirmed legal proceedings and church processes had been completed.

The priest’s resignation was announced in a statement issued by the Diocese.


The statement said Fr Boland had offered his resignation and that a new parish priest would be appointed in “due course”.

Fr Boland, of Killyclogher Road in Omagh, was acquitted of indecently assaulting a teenage girl in June 2012 following an eight-day trial at Londonderry Crown Court.

The statement said the Donegal-born priest had been engaged in therapy sessions to prepare for his return to ministry after being cleared of the allegations of abuse.

“Over a protracted period of time, Fr Boland engaged in therapy to help him cope with what he was experiencing and to prepare him properly for a return to public ministry and interaction with the people again,” it said.

In March, Fr Boland returned to ministry to resume his duties, but the statement said that on his return it had “all too quickly become clear to Fr Boland and diocesan authorities that he is not ready”.

“For that reason, Fr Boland now needs more time for help and guidance in this regard and has been granted leave of absence from ministry.”

The statement said the news of Fr Boland’s resignation was understandably “very confusing for many people”.

However, it added that: “It is hoped that in dealing with this carefully and promptly, the needs of both the Parish of Cappagh and Fr Boland will be addressed appropriately.”

With such a faulty memory, how can George Pell rise so high?

With such a faulty memory, how can George Pell rise so high?

The Cardinal George Pell’s testimony at the royal commission? I just don’t get it. Not simply the staggering lack of genuine contrition from one who has presided over an era that has seen the widespread sexual abuse of children at the hands and worse of priests whose care they were entrusted to. And not only because so much of his testimony seemed to contradict the sworn testimony of so many of his underlings. No, most amazing was his use of the ‘‘I can’t recall,’’ answer when it came time to discuss financial transactions to compensate victims as recently as 2007. What I don’t get is – all put together – how someone so totally exposed as being at best incompetent and always so very vague, can rise to the third most powerful position in the worldwide Catholic Church?

Good for a right royal laugh

The reintroduction of the imperial honours system by Prime Minister Tony Abbott this week was possibly the most hilarious political move since forever. Even many Liberals and Nats greeted the news with roaring laughter and most of the nation hasn’t stopped laughing since. No one seems to have taken it seriously – when even John Howard calls something “anachronistic,” you can put it in the bank – and the belly laughs haven’t stopped since. Former News Limited journo Peter Logue has had the best line so far, tweeting of the PM, “I hereby doth thee Sir Pository of Wisdom!” Others have claimed Sir Plus, Sir Cumference, (aka Clive Palmer) and Sir Cumcision to their round table, on pains of calling Sir Curity. You get the drift. The Twitterverse has been on fire with wonderful lines, and many have put “Lord” and “Lady”, “Sir” and “Dame” in front of their twitter handles. When I floated the idea that today should be Talk Like A Knight or Dame Day – in the spirit of Talk Like A Pirate Day – the thing took off, with one knockabout bloke from Five Dock declaring he was now “Lord Warden of the Cinque Ports” and so forth. Quite seriously, the country has been rocking with laughter for days, and as one of the twitterati noted, it has been a wonderful change from bickering over nonsense. Few moves by the PM could have been better calculated to breathe yet more life into the republican movement and, as Lord Fotheringbottom of Peats Ridge, I doth lift a glass in his honour!

Ask a simple question

In the mid-1950s, Dr David Ronald de Mey Warren – who had lost his own father 20 years earlier in an aircraft accident over Bass Strait – was working at the Aeronautical Research Laboratory in Melbourne, when he created an indestructible flight and cockpit recorder designed to record all the instrument readings and pilot voices, and capable of surviving any subsequent crash and fire. Enter the black box of popular aircraft fame. As we speak, of course, our service men and women are – in the words of Vice Chief of the Australian Defence Forces Air Marshall Mark Binskin about the search for Flight MH760 in the Southern Indian Ocean – “not just looking for a needle in a haystack, we’re looking for the haystack”. So here is my question. Surely it is possible to design black boxes so that the instant water covers a particular part of it, a powerful GPS signal is sent out, marking its position where the plane hits the water? Can an engineer tell me what I am missing here? Why this is not obvious?

Joke of the week

With a very seductive voice a wife asks her husband, “Would you like to see Twenty Dollars all crumpled up?”

“Yes,” says her husband, curiously.

She gives him a sexy little smile, unbuttons the top three buttons of her blouse and slowly reaches down in her cleavage created by a soft, silky push-up bra and pulls out a crumpled $20 note.

He takes the crumpled note from her and smiles approvingly.

“Now,” she says, “would you like to see $50 all crumpled up?”

“Yes!” he says with enthusiasm.

She gives him another sexy little smile, pulls up her skirt and pulls a crumpled $50 note from a garter above her knee.

He takes the crumpled note and starts breathing a little quicker with anticipation.

“Now” she says, “Would you like to sees $50,000 all crumpled up?”

“YES,” he croaks, barely able to speak for excitement.

“Go look in the garage.”

Read more:

Priest who was found innocent of sexual assault charges resigns ministry

Priest who was found innocent of sexual assault charges resigns ministry

A priest who was acquitted in 2012 of sexual assault charges has resigned from ministry in the Diocese of Derry.

Fr Eugene Boland, a parish priest in Cappagh, County Tyrone, stepped aside four years ago while allegations were being investigated.

He had resumed his duties just two weeks ago, after it was confirmed legal proceedings and Church processes had been completed.

The Donegal-born priest’s resignation was announced in a statement issued by the Diocese.

Fr Boland, of Killyclogher Road in Omagh, was acquitted of indecently assaulting a teenage girl in June 2012 following an eight-day trial at Derry Crown Court.

The statement said Fr Boland had been engaged in therapy sessions to prepare for his return to ministry after being cleared of the allegations of abuse.

However on his return it had “all too quickly become clear to Fr Boland and diocesan authorities that he is not ready”.

The statement said Fr Boland now needs more time for help and guidance in this regard, and has been granted leave of absence from ministry.

Priest acquitted of sexual assault resigns

Priest acquitted of sexual assault resigns

The Diocese of Derry confirmed that he has stepped down from his work in the parish of Cappagh, Co. Tyrone and a new parish priest will be appointed in “due course”.

Fr Boland, a native of Moville, was charged with five counts of indecent assault on a 14-year-old girl in St Joseph’s parochial house, Galliagh, Derry on dates between June 1990 and June 1992.

When he was charged in 2010, he relinquished his duties until the case was finalised.

He was acquitted of all charges last June and had only returned to parish work a fortnight ago.

A spokesperson for the diocese said that he had been undergoing therapy to help him return to ministry.

However, on his return to the parish, it had “become clear to Fr Boland and diocesan authorities that he is not ready”.

He has been granted a leave of absence in order to obtain more help and guidance.

Email to Peter Farthing and James Condon, Salvation Army Australia

Email to Peter Farthing and James Condon, Salvation Army Australia

A while ago, when I sent out an email about the availability of my father’s memorial film, including to representatives from the Salvation Army, I received a reply from Peter Farthing, of the Salvation Army, in which he said,

“Thank you Aletha, it is clear that your father’s memorial was a fittingly weighty event which will contribute to the ongoing quest for justice in this crucial area.”

I have just written back to Mr Farthing and James Condon, of the Salvation Army Australia, with an invitation for them to speak with me about why I have taken the stance I have taken, and why I am angry about how my father, Lewis Blayse, and his family were treated, on the very slim chance that they may actually want to know. On the slim chance that they may actually want to understand why I am doing what I am doing.

I wrote:

“Dear Mr Farthing and Mr Condon,

Yes, this is a “crucial” area. Really, I have no idea why you have written to me referring, in an apparently approving tone, to my quest for justice when it is your organisation that is blocking my and others’ quests for justice. 

I am trying to secure the safety of my family and to help others avoid going through what I’ve gone through and what my father has gone through and make sure that they don’t live in the pain they do anymore, because no-one should have to endure what my father and his family have had to endure. No-one should have to live as I now have to live, never having gotten to see the person they loved more than anyone else in the world in a good and safe place and with peace of mind after decades of suffering. 

The Salvation Army, by doing what it has to my family, and not just doing the right thing after so many years in which to do it, has given me no other choice but to fight. I’m fighting, as I said at the memorial, for the security of my family. But it’s more than that. Knowing that so many others have continued to suffer long, long after the Salvation Army became aware of what had happened to them, I can’t in all conscience do anything but try to change things for them too. It is what my father would have wanted, and were he still with me, I know he would be telling me to fight for all the people who are still coming forward and saying how badly they’ve been treated. And to fight for those who are too broken or afraid of your organisation to speak out about all they’ve endured.

If you and Mr Condon truly feel all the things you say publicly you feel, frankly, you wouldn’t have done what you did, and I find it difficult to believe otherwise. That’s why I’m angry, if you can’t understand why. 

1. You had the documentation proving that my father was totally and permanently disabled over a decade ago. 

2. You never once asked me about the consequences of Alkira on my family’s life, not even after my father died. 

3. You never asked my father to have legal representation at your meeting with him. 

4. You only came to my father after my mother came to the Salvation Army. 

5. You only came to my father after your organisation beat him down and crushed his hope for true justice through your lawyers, who treated him appallingly. 

6. And then, rather than apply a decision rule that looked at what actually happened to him and the effects the abuse at Alkira had on him and his family, you made a ridiculously low payment that no-one could possibly think could make up for all the losses my father and his family endured.

I now find out from the news that you applied a ‘matrix’ decision rule to payouts. Frankly, no-one who really intended to make things better would dream of applying such a decision rule, because nowhere in the decision rule was any attempt to truly undo damage done. It was an arbitrary and meaningless way of making decisions. 

But I’m told that I don’t give people enough chances. So here’s a chance. You know I will be in Sydney next week. Meet with me, therefore, one day after the end of hearings, with my representatives present, and let me tell you, to your faces, why what you did was wrong and what you need to do to make it better, not just for my family, but for other affected families. Maybe you really don’t know? I have no idea. I can only go by what I’ve seen, and what I’ve seen is terrible. As I say, though, I’m told I don’t give people enough chances. If you really don’t understand why I’m angry, let me explain it to you in the simplest language I possibly can. 

You have the opportunity to do something right, and I don’t understand why you don’t just do it. I can tell you exactly what to do and how to do it. I’ve spent my life watching my father suffering and can bring my life’s experiences to you in a way that could help 1000s of others. Why wouldn’t you want to know? 

You and I know that the Salvation Army does have the resources to do the right thing by victims and their families and that the delivery of true justice and healing could be done in a way that didn’t cause others to suffer. It would be wrong in the extreme of you to try to convince the Australian public that by doing the right thing by the 1000s of victims of Salvation Army Homes and their families that other people would have to suffer, and I truly hope you don’t try to do that, because that would be a gross misrepresentation of the truth. 

You, by now, almost certainly have the statement I wrote to the Royal Commission. What I wrote was only the tip of the iceberg about the suffering my father and his family endured. You probably have boxes and boxes of materials from victims other than my father and pleas from them and their families. How can you possibly continue as you have done for so long with the voices of so many people crying out in pain and desperation? How does that fit with the public face of the Salvation Army and all it claims to stand for? 

Finally, if you and Mr Condon know that I am right and you know that what is being done by the Salvation Army is wrong, but you are powerless to get your organisation to change, you should do the only moral thing, which would be to resign and state your disappointment with your organisation’s stance, and join me and others in trying to bring about real change. Your resignations would have extraordinary weight, and could be what it takes to get your organisation to change, and change now, how it is doing things. In the process, you’d help 1000s of people. But even if your resignation didn’t bring about immediate change, you would have the satisfaction of knowing that you did the right and proper thing and that, eventually, you and the others you’d be joining would bring about an alleviation of the suffering of so many people who deserve peace. Why wouldn’t you want to do that?

Try putting yourself in my position for just one minute. I’ve grown up hearing about the radical difference between the public and the private “face” of the Salvation Army. It has instilled in me a deep distrust of your organisation, and my experiences, the experiences of my father, and the experiences of other victims of Salvation Army Homes I’ve met over the years and that I am now hearing more about has done nothing but reinforce my position of distrust. 

I am not the sort of person who comes crawling on her hands and knees begging for help. In my experience, people either do the right thing or they don’t. If you truly don’t care, I’m not going to waste any more of my time trying to get you to care. As I say, I’m happy to meet with you and explain why you need to be doing things differently. But if that doesn’t work and you continue to block your ears and harden your hearts in the face of all that you are hearing, I have to continue as I have, which is to continue to appeal to the Australian people to send your organisation a clear and direct message that it won’t tolerate injustice and cruelty of this magnitude.”


Commission hearings into residential schools wrap up

Commission hearings into residential schools wrap up

The commission delving into the sordid legacy of Canada’s residential schools was wrapping up nearly four years of public hearings Sunday, where thousands of victims recounted stories of cruelty and abuse at the hands of those entrusted with their care.

The heart-breaking accounts — almost all videotaped — will now form part of a lasting record of one of the darkest chapters in the country’s history.

For many, being able to tell their stories was at once cathartic and a validation.

“Many times, I was hearing my own story being told in front of me and that became very emotionally challenging because I need to deal with that personally,” Chief Willie Littlechild, a commissioner and himself a residential school survivor, told The Canadian Press.

“At the same time, I think it helped on my own healing journey.”

Vicki Crowchild, 80, of the Tsuu T’ina Nation outside Calgary who attended a school as a child, agreed that the opportunity to talk of her past after her abuser told her no one would ever believe her was hugely beneficial.

Others, she said, felt the same way.

“A lot of people got healed just by telling their story,” Crowchild said.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission, under Justice Murray Sinclair, visited more than 300 communities after it began hearings in Winnipeg in June 2010.

Now, it would take more than two years to play back the more than 6,500 statements — they range in length from 10 minutes to five hours — survivors gave the commission.

About 150,000 First Nations, Inuit and Metis children were taken from their families and forced to attend the church-run schools over much of the last century. The last school, outside Regina, closed in 1996.

The children, the commission heard, were sent hundreds or thousands of kilometres from home. Many were kept largely isolated from their families, sometimes for years.

Siblings were separated and punished for showing any affection to one another. Survivors talked of constant hunger, of beatings and whippings, of sexual abuse. Many died of disease or unexplained causes. Some killed themselves.

The damage done to those who did survive was often lasting.

“When I came out of residential school, when they finally shut it down, I went back into a community that was 95 per cent alcoholics,” said Martha Marsden, who attended a school in Alberta.

“That is how our parents were dealing with children being taken out of their care, being ripped out of their arms.”

As part of a class-action lawsuit settlement reached in 2007, the federal government apologized for the schools and set up the $60-million commission. The mandate was to create as complete an historical record as possible of the system and its legacy.

The commission has frequently found itself at loggerheads with the federal government.

Some of the battles have ended up in court, with various judges castigating Ottawa for failing to turn over records.

Just this past week, Stan Loutit, grand chief of Mushkegowuk Council, urged Justice Minister Peter MacKay to fire government lawyers for fighting to withhold records related to the notorious St. Anne’s residential school in Fort Albany, Ont.

Sinclair himself complained a few days ago that Ottawa would be cutting a program aimed at helping survivors of the system to heal.

Still, the end of the hearings — which wrapped up with a four-day event in Edmonton attended by thousands — marked another beginning, said Littlechild, a former member of Parliament.

“It’s really a start of reconciliation,” he said.

Calvin Bruneau, of the Papaschase First Nation in Alberta, said he, too, looked to some lasting goodwill emerging from the inquiry into the painful residential-school legacy.

“I am hoping it leads to better all-around relations between First Nations people and the government,” said Bruneau, whose grandmother was abused at a residential school.

The commission has been given until the end of June 2015 to report out.

Minnesota Diocese to sue diocese of Clogher as they claim they knew priest was a child abuser

Minnesota Diocese to sue diocese of Clogher as they claim they knew priest was a child abuser 

Irish Central reports the New Ulm diocese has filed a lawsuit against the diocese, which encompasses parts of Monaghan, Fermanagh, Tyrone and Donegal.

The lawsuit alleges that Clogher sent a pedophile priest, Father Francis Markey, to Minnesota in 1981 without revealing his past. The lawsuit also names the the Servants of the Paraclete religious order.

The New Ulm Diocese says it never would have accepted him if it had been told about the allegations.

Markey was ordained in Ireland in 1952, but documents in several court cases show he was accused of sexually abusing numerous boys as early as the 1960s, long before he was transferred to Minnesota.

When he died in 2012, he had been due to appear in court in Monaghan for allegedly raping a 15-year-old boy in 1968 during a religious pilgrimage to Lough Derg.

While posted to Minnesota Markey is alleged to have sexually abused three boys at a rural family home in 1982 when he was posted temporarily to rural parishes. One of those men is now claiming abuse and filed charges last year.

The Diocese of Clogher has denied the allegations and says they never approved sending the priest to America.

The Fight to Reveal Abuses by Catholic Priests

The Fight to Reveal Abuses by Catholic Priests

Cardinal Edward M. Egan, the former Roman Catholic archbishop of New York, is in no way the principal face of the sexual abuse scandals that have buffeted the church and its priesthood almost without pause for three decades. But he embodies a certain mind-set among some in the highest clerical ranks. It is an attitude that has led critics, who of late include the authors of a scathing United Nations committee report, to wonder about the depth of the church’s commitment to atone for past predations and to ensure that those sins of the fathers are visited on no one else.

In 2002, with the scandal in crescendo and the American Catholic Church knocked back on its heels, Cardinal Egan reacted with obvious ambivalence to accounts of priestly abuses that occurred in the Diocese of Bridgeport, Conn., which he had led before moving to New York. “If in hindsight we also discover that mistakes may have been made as regards prompt removal of priests and assistance to victims, I am deeply sorry,” he said in a letter to parishioners.

The conditional nature of the apology, a style favored by innumerable politicians caught with hands in the till, was not lost on many listeners. Nor was the cardinal’s use of “mistakes” to describe a pattern routinely described by district attorneys as a cover-up. As if that were not enough, the reluctant penitent turned thoroughly unrepentant a decade later. By then retired, he withdrew his apology. “I never should have said that,” the cardinal told Connecticut magazine in 2012. “I did say if we did anything wrong, I’m sorry, but I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

That sort of unyielding stance amid institutional promises of change continues to bedevil the American church, the Holy See in Rome and, no doubt, many among the faithful. This issue shapes the latest installment ofRetro Report, a weekly series of documentary videos, with this one reaching back to the mid-1980s to explore clergymen who prey.

By now, the story is amply familiar. Thousands of wayward clerics have been found to have sexually abused and emotionally scarred many more thousands of boys and girls. It is, too, a story of the church hierarchy as enabler: bishops who ignored the criminality, or evaded public exposure by shuffling abusers from parish to parish. The scandals have cost the church dearly, both in lost moral suasion and in its coffers. According to a monitoring group called, United States dioceses and their insurers have had to pay out more than $3 billion, most of that money going to victims.

Nor is this a uniquely American peril. Similar scandals have erupted in Europe, Latin America, Canada and Australia. The Vatican, struggling to show it is far from indifferent to the problem, confirmed in January that it had defrocked 384 priests worldwide in 2011 and 2012. That was an unusually large number, though some cases may have been decades old.

For sure, sexual maltreatment of children and cover-up are not Catholic monopolies. Charges have been brought against predatory rabbis in New York and elsewhere. In the Hasidic world, a code of silence governs much of life in this regard. Those who break it, by taking allegations to the civil authorities, find themselves ostracized. The existence of a website points to problems in other denominations. As for secular institutions, who could be unaware of abuses within the Boy Scouts of America and at Penn State?

But the Catholic Church has a hierarchical structure unlike any other, not to mention two millenniums of tradition and a claim to universality. It also has a history of moving glacially on a broad range of matters. (It took 359 years, after all, for the Vatican to acknowledge that it was wrong to have condemned Galileo in 1633 for proving that the earth orbited the sun.)

Then again, the church in this country has plenty of concerns other than sexual misconduct. There are more American Catholics than ever — about 67 million, says the Official Catholic Directory — but for many of them, unquestioning adherence to doctrine is in the rearview mirror. Only one in four attends weekly Mass, according to the Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate at Georgetown University.

The number of American priests, 39,600 last year, is two-thirds what it was at the time of the Second Vatican Council in the early 1960s. Ordinations of new priests, 511 in 2013, amount to barely half the total of five decades ago. The painful closing of Catholic schools by financially burdened dioceses has become routine. There are bright spots: the Georgetown researchers say that Catholic seminary enrollment rose in 2013 to 3,694, the highest level in years. Still, that is less than half what it was 50 years ago.

But it is the abuse scandals that loom ever-large. In early February, the report by the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child sternly took the Vatican to task for, in the panel’s view, not having acknowledged the extent of past criminality and not doing enough to protect today’s children. The relatively new pope, Francis, recognizes the problem. He has spoken about the horrors of pedophilia. This month, he named four women and four men to a special commission that is supposed to advise him on how to proceed in cleansing this enduring stain. Among the appointees was an Irish activist on this issue, Marie Collins, who as a girl in the 1960s was abused by a priest.

Yet as popular as Pope Francis is, he has left some skeptics wondering where his heart lies. He did not endear himself with support groups for abuse victims when, in an interview with two newspapers in early March, he said of the scandal: “The Catholic Church is perhaps the only public institution to have acted with transparency and responsibility. No one else has done more. Yet the church is the only one to have been attacked.”