MEDIA ADVISORY: DOCUMENTS ON 16 PRIESTS FROM JOLIET DIOCESE TO BE RELEASED IN CHICAGO
The council, which includes Australian Cardinal George Pell, head of the Vatican’s new economic secretariat, has been meeting in Rome for the past two days and also received input from the Vatican’s secretary of state, Cardinal Pietro Parolin.
Francis joined the council’s discussions in between events on an intense appointment schedule that included an audience with King Juan Carlos of Spain after the historic double canonizations of Popes John Paul II and John XXIII on Sunday.
“The work is of some importance,” Pell said on Monday evening at a function to mark the 40th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Australia and the Holy See.
The former archbishop of Sydney recently moved to Rome to take up his new position. He said there is a great deal of work to be done but declined to comment further.
The president of the Pontifical Commission for Reference on the Organization of the Economic-Administrative Structure of the Holy See (COSEA), Joseph F.X. Zahra, presented a report to the council.
The pope’s eight-member kitchen Cabinet — backed by seven lay financial experts — is now focusing on an individual appraisal of each pontifical council and will meet again in July.
The pope is determined to implement tighter financial and auditing procedures at the Vatican amid moves to overhaul the Vatican bank after allegations of money laundering and corruption.
“There is much work ahead, so we can expect it to be done not this year but the next,” said the Vatican’s chief spokesman, the Rev. Federico Lombardi.
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The dual canonization is an attempt to please the traditional Catholic base while luring back some among the millions of who have left the church in what was once Christendom’s western bastion.
It is no accident that during John Paul’s conservative papacy — when the church refused to reconsider sexual prohibitions applying to the laity but covered up sexual abuse of children by priests — millions of practicing Catholics decamped in the United States and Western Europe. According to a Pew poll conducted in 2009, more than one out of five native-born Americans raised in the church no longer consider themselves Catholics.
It is difficult to imagine, though, that Catholics who no longer consider themselves Catholics are likely to return to a church that still condemns divorce, artificial birth control, in vitro fertilization, abortion for any reason and gay unions. Moreover, if the church continues to require priestly celibacy and refuses to consider the ordination of women (Francis has already reiterated his support for the latter policy), there will continue to be a severe priest shortage.
In this environment, how can the canonizations of two such different men heal the deep spiritual and intellectual divide within a church that, increasingly, must rely on the poor and poorly educated, in Africa and some parts of Asia, for new converts?
One need not be an atheist to be stunned by the anachronism of attributing nature-defying miracles to prayers directed through saints. Educated men and women of most faiths, Catholicism included, now believe pretty much what Enlightenment deists did—that alleviating human suffering depends on the exercise of human reason, not on supernatural intervention deemed miraculous.
WHEN Helena Maiolo was 12 years old she was thrown into a bin full of pig slop in a bid to try to shut her up.
More than 40 years later, the Mandurah woman refuses to be silenced.
Just one of tens of thousands who suffered at the hands of abusers while in State care, Ms Maiolo has made it her mission to speak out against child abuse.
Referring to herself, and others who were abused while institutionalised, as a ‘forgotten Australian’, the mother of four chose the opening week of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse as the moment to have her say.
“I was told to keep quiet,” Ms Maiolo said.
“But they can’t shut me up now.
“I have a voice and I’m going to use it.”
Placed in care at just two years old following the breakdown of her parents’ marriage, Ms Maiolo and her three siblings learnt early on that abandonment was to become a central theme in their lives.
Speaking only for herself – the 56-year-old will not comment on experiences faced by her siblings – Ms Maiolo said being placed in a Salvation Army childrens’ home in Perth at 11 led to “horrific and ongoing” abuse.
“It was general knowledge that things were happening to kids there,” she said.
“You just knew.”
It wasn’t until she was 12 and threatening to speak out that Ms Maiolo suffered the worst of the abuse from one carer who was a Captain in the Salvation Army.
Recounting one evening being ‘cared for’ by the man, Ms Maiolo said she was wrestled to the ground by him before being taken outside.
“He threw me in the pig slop bin,” she said.
“He told me I was nothing but garbage and nobody would ever love me.
No question but that Catholic priest Andrew McCormick had one of the region’s most respected criminal defense lawyers for his trial in March for allegedly sexually assaulting a 10-year-old altar boy in 1997 at St. John Cantius church in Bridesburg.
Now, more than a month after the Philadelphia Common Pleas Court jury deadlocked in its deliberations, it seems lawyer William J. Brennan Jr. may be irreplaceable.
On Monday, McCormick, 57, was supposed to tell Judge Gwendolyn N. Bright the name of the lawyer who will represent him in the retrial. Instead, McCormick told the judge he was still lawyer-less although the reasons why were not explained.
Bright gave McCormick until May 29.
Brennan, appearing exhausted, withdrew as McCormick’s lawyer after the March 12 mistrial. Earlier, the veteran lawyer said he felt uncomfortable after discovering shortly before trial that he knew the extended family of the alleged victim.
Bright has imposed a gag order on all parties to try to limit publicity about the case.
McCormick, ordained in 1982, was pastor of Sacred Heart parish near Bridgeport, Montgomery County, when he and 26 Roman Catholic priests were suspended in March 2011 by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia for possible inappropriate conduct with children. The suspension did not involve the alleged victim in the trial in March.
Jeff Anderson & Associates pioneered the use of civil litigation to seek justice for survivors of child sexual abuse and is recognized as the nation’s premier law firm to represent victims of clergy sexual abuse. Widely recognized as the most prolific and successful litigators of clergy sexual abuse cases against churches and other institutions, Jeff Anderson has handled priest abuse cases in numerous states across the nation.
Jeff Anderson and his team are smart, tough and relentless, but the virtue that ultimately sets them apart is their compassion. They are clergy abuse attorneys who feel deeply and work tirelessly in response to an unjust world and over three decades have built a caring reputation of supporting, protecting and guiding survivors on their journey towards justice and healing.
A 10-year-old boy was told by a priest to make himself less attractive so as not to be a target for sexual abuse, a royal commission has heard in Australia.
The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse has also heard that Christian Brothers pimped boys out to a visiting photographer at St Joseph’s Farm and Trade School, Bindoon, in the late 1950s.
A witness known as VV told the commission in Perth that a Christian Brother who raped him suddenly announced he needed to confess his sins.
“Then Brother Parker came back and said I needed to see Father Gerard. Father Gerard sat me down and told me what we were doing was very wrong, and that I should make myself less attractive,” VV said.
“I should stop leading Brother Parker on, because it was a sin. He told me it was my fault, all the while he sat there sucking a cigar, blaming a child for being assaulted.”
He said boys were also sent out on picnics with a local photographer, who was known to abuse boys. Boys were also promised parcels of land by brothers who used the inducement to groom them.
When VV — an orphan in care since the age of four in England — arrived at Bindoon aged nine, he was the youngest there and below the 10-year age requirement for the school.
Soon after arriving, he was raped by Brother Christopher Angus.
He was also savagely beaten numerous times, and lost hearing in his left ear.
Meanwhile, VV’s mother tried repeatedly to find him in England.
“She was told I was put into a good home in Australia, that I was cared for and loved and that I would receive an education,” he said. “She never gave permission for me to go to Australia.”
VV never saw his mother again.
Years after he left Bindoon he was offered $20,000 compensation by the Catholic Church’s professional standards office, which later upped it to $40,000 when VV said he found it insulting.
During the two-week hearing, 11 men will give evidence of the abuse they suffered as children between 1947 and 1968 at four institutions run by the Christian Brothers in Bindoon, Tardun and Perth.
Orphans as young as seven were stalked at night and repeatedly assaulted by the Brothers.
When the boys spoke out, they were branded liars and abused again.
The hearing has heard that only four Christian Brothers had been charged with sexually assaulting children at the institutions, and of those, only one was jailed — for just three-and-a-half years.
John Wells told the commission it was a nightly occurrence for Brothers at the Clontarf school in Perth to take boys into their rooms. He said he felt ashamed about what had happened to him, has never been able to show affection and has battled alcoholism for decades.
Another man, Oliver Cosgrove, gave evidence that sexual abuse occurred in plain sight at Castledare school, but that no one said anything. He said the cost of the abuse had been enormous and he had since struggled with depression and PTSD.
One former resident at Bindoon cried as he recalled his years of sexual abuse at the hands of the Christian Brothers.
John Hennessey, who was a child migrant from the United Kingdom, said he could not read parts of his statement aloud.
It detailed how he was raped and beaten by a number of Christian Brothers.
“I lived in constant terror of physical violence. Punishments, by way of floggings with canes and straps, were frequently carried out as a public spectacle,” he said.
“If they could not get us during the day, the Brothers would get you at night — there was no escape.
“Most of the Christian Brothers at Bindoon when I was there were paedophiles. The remainder were sadistic and violent brutes.”
Rev. James J. Scahill, a controversial but beloved priest known for being an outspoken critic of the way the Catholic church has handled the sex abuse scandal, will retire as pastor of St. Michael’s Parish in June.
Scahill, who is around 67, met with Rev. Timothy A. McDonnell, the bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Springfield, to discuss his plans to retire recently, said Mark E. Dupont, spokesman for the diocese.
“It is not an unusual time. It is the end of the fiscal year and the program and there is plenty of notice to give the bishop a chance to find a new pastor for July,” Dupont said.
Scahill, who could not be reached for comment, is known internationally for his years of support of victims of priest sex abuse and his outspoken criticism of the way the Catholic Church has handled the crisis. He has appeared on a variety of international networks including the British Broadcasting Corp. and Cable News Network in 2010 after urging then-Pope Benedict XVI to deal more forcefully with sex abuse causes or resign.
Then two years ago Scahill got into a more personal problem when he was arrested for drunken driving after a minor car accident in East Longmeadow. The case was continued without a finding.
In June 2004 Scahill received the Priest of Integrity Award from a national organization that supports victims of clergy sex abuse.
Many such victims and their families had sought his counsel, including one of the two men who accused the Most Rev. Thomas L. Dupre, former bishop of the Springfield diocese, of abusing him as a minor.
Dupre resigned in February 2004 when confronted by The Republican with the allegation. He later was indicted, but the statute of limitations had passed for prosecution.
Priests have many choices upon retirement. Many continue part-time ministry, assisting parish priests with masses and other duties or filling in for those on vacation. Some priests opt to stay in the area and live in church property while others have their own homes where they live after retiring, Dupont said.
He added he does not know what Scahill’s future plans are yet.
Scahill announced his plans to retire to his parish, which is one of the largest in the Springfield Diocese and the only one in East Longmeadow, last weekend, Dupont said.
“It is my fond hope that you will please remember me as a priest who strove to celebrate each mass with prayerful reverence. As a Christian person, I truly labored to prepare and deliver sermons that might be applicable and helpful in our Christian journey. Please remember my sincere efforts at each and every Baptism, First Communion, Confirmation, Marriage ceremony and Funeral service; and, my counseling efforts to comfort, to challenge and to encourage,” he wrote in his letter
“We recognize it is a loss for his parish community. He is much beloved for his parish community and he has been there for 12 years,” Dupont said.
While Dupont declined to talk about Scahill’s advocacy over the sex abuse scandal, he said he understands the support he has shown for sex abuse victims.
“I think for some abuse victims, his loss will certainly be dearly felt and we recognize that,” he said.
But he also said St. Michael’s is a difficult parish to oversee since it is so large, growing and the parish priest is alone. He does receive assistance from Sister Betty Broughan and Sister Mary McGeer, who serve as pastoral associates.
The bishop will now send a letter to all priests telling them of the impending vacancy and inviting anyone to apply for the position. A clergy commission, which deals with all vacancies, will select a new pastor, Dupont said.
The anti-Catholic pressure group SNAP sets the bar very high in its purported quest to protect children from abuse – or it least when it comes to the Catholic Church.
In the past, SNAP’s hysterical founder and president, Barbara Blaine, has said that it is “reckless” and “irresponsible” for Church officials to fail to call law enforcement and keep an accused cleric in ministry “even for one day” before calling police and yanking an accused cleric out of ministry.
But if nothing else, SNAP is rich in hypocrisy. So it should come as no surprise that, according to an Archdiocese of Chicago press release, SNAP did not call police or alert Church officials even though it knew “for several weeks” about a shocking sex abuse allegation against a Chicago priest.
Rather than acting according to its purported mission to protect children, the group instead held a press conference, strategically timed for a slow news day on the Monday after Easter. The conference was led by Blaine herself, who in the past has personally written a letter of supporton behalf of a man arrested with over 100 images of kiddie porn on his computer.
Publicity first, safety of kids last
Blaine’s latest publicity stunt only adds more evidence to the fact that SNAP is not really about protecting children but actually about pummeling the Catholic Church in order to advance its ownpolitical agenda.
Here we have Blaine not only not calling the police about an abuse allegation against a priest – and thereby “endangering children” by her own standards – but instead withholding information until she felt it was an opportune time to hold a press conference and generate some more free publicity for SNAP.
What’s more: This is not the first time SNAP has pulled a stunt just like this. As we reported back in 2011, SNAP knew about a Los Angeles priest still in ministry who had been accused of an inappropriate relationship with a teenage girl back in the 1960s. But rather than immediately calling law enforcement or alerting the Church, it took its information to the New York Times, who then dutifully trumpeted a big story that was embarrassing to the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
The time is long overdue for the media to reveal the truth about SNAP and its hypocrisy when it comes to reporting abuse. We especially call on Manya Brachear, religion reporter from the Chicago Tribune, who has regularly enabled SNAP by giving them free publicity.
A Hasidic man from Brooklyn was sentenced to five years probation for throwing bleach in the face of a rabbi who had accused the man’s father of being a sexual predator.
Meilech Schnitzler, 38, pleaded guilty on Monday in Brooklyn state Supreme Court to felony assault for throwing bleach at Rabbi Nuchem Rosenberg, an advocate for victims of sexual abuse in the New York City borough’s haredi Orthodox Jewish community.
In 2012, Rosenberg on his blog for sexual abuse victims accused Schnitzler’s father of being a child sexual molester. As Rosenberg walked past Schnitzler’s Brooklyn fish market, Schnitzler ran toward him with a cup of bleach and threw it in his face.
Rosenberg, of the same Williamsburg neighborhood in Brooklyn, was treated for burns on his face, around his eyes and in his left eye.
The incident came a day after Nechemya Weberman, a Satmar Hasidim leader, was convicted on 59 counts of sexual abuse of a then-18-year-old woman when she was between the ages of 12 and 15 and went to Weberman for counseling. Rosenberg supported and assisted the victim throughout the judicial process.
Rosenberg, who also runs a website and telephone hot-line for sex abuse victims, said the sentence was too lenient.
“Six months in jail would have been enough to show this was serious,” he said, according to The New York Times. “Probation in our circles is a joke.”