Ramsey County judge presiding over priest abuse cases named Trial Judge of Year

Ramsey County judge presiding over priest abuse cases named Trial Judge of Year

 

The Ramsey County judge presiding over sex abuse lawsuits against the Roman Catholic Church has been named Trial Judge of the Year by a legal group.

The Minnesota Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates presented Judge John Van de North with the award Aug. 21. The group cited his promotion of “integrity and civility among all parties in his courtroom” and his good reputation among colleagues.

The group is an association of lawyers and judges that promotes the integrity of civil litigation.

Van de North is hearing lawsuits against the Diocese of Winona and Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Doe 1, a man who claims he was sexually molested by former Rev. Thomas Adamson, sued in May 2013, claiming sexual abuse by Adamson at St. Thomas Aquinas in St. Paul Park. His attorney, Jeff Anderson, has used the case to gain disclosure of records by both the diocese and archdiocese on priests with substantiated claims of abuse.

Marino Eccher can be reached at 651-228-5421. Follow him at twitter.com/marinoeccher.

 

 

http://www.twincities.com/crime/ci_26432343/ramsey-county-judge-presiding-over-priest-abuse-cases

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Davis priest sentenced to probation, 90 days in jail for sex with minor

Davis priest sentenced to probation, 90 days in jail for sex with minor

 

Girl tells court it was consensual

A Roman Catholic priest began to cry on Friday as his attorney read the words of the teenage girl in which he admitted to having a sexual relationship while working at a Davis church.

Rev. Hector Coria Gonzalez, 45, entered his plea at a conditional hearing in June, where he admitted to one felony count of unlawful sexual intercourse with a minor, identified as M.L., a 17-year-old parishioner at St. James Parish in Davis.

The remaining charges — two counts of unlawful sexual intercourse, and a single misdemeanor count of oral copulation with a minor — were dismissed.

Gonzalez was present and out of custody at Friday’s hearing, where he was sentenced three years of felony probation, with 90 days in county jail for his acts, which M.L. claims were consensual.

Prior to sentencing, Gonzalez’s attorney Linda Parisi read a letter written by M.L., which detailed her response to the investigation and outcome of the case. Gonzalez, who was assisted by a Spanish-language interpreter, was visibly shaken by her words.

From an early age, it was M.L’s dream to work in law enforcement, specifically the FBI, but those “dreams were shattered” on May 9, the day of Gonzalez’s arrest.

“I was disappointed in how this matter was investigated,” the victim wrote. “The police pulled me out of class that day, and questioned me without my parents. I asked for a lawyer, but they continued to question me.”

M.L. emphasized she was not abused or manipulated by Gonzalez in any way, and she “did not need or want protection.”

Later that week, she was pulled out of class by Child Protective Services, and again questioned about her relationship with Gonzalez, which began when she was 16 years old.

“Davis is a small town and word got around who the minor was,” she wrote. “The chain of events is what victimized me, not Hector.”

The letter asked Yolo County Superior Court Judge Paul Richardson to forego jail time, stating Gonzalez has a “big heart” and has had a “positive impact” on the Davis community.

When M.L. began to list Gonzalez’s positive attributes, Parisi had to stop reading for a moment, passing a box of tissues to her client, who started to shake, tears welling up in his eyes.

“He always thought the best of people,” she wrote. “I am asking for no jail time, Hector has suffered enough.”

M.L. also asked Richardson to lift the no-contact order presently in place, indicating the best way for her to move past this trauma is to talk to Gonzalez and possibly continue their relationship.

“I have never feared Hector, I am not a victim of his,” she said. “Just because something is not typical does not mean it’s bad.”

After reading the letter, Parisi discussed sentencing with counsel, referring to a report from the Yolo County Probation Department, which outlined suggested parameters for sentencing. Parisi asked to lift the no-contact order.

“M.L. is a strong, capable woman,” she said. “This particular victim is not vulnerable and there were no reported injuries.”

Deputy District Attorney Diane Ortiz disagreed, stating although there were no physical injuries, “emotional harm done by this relationship in violation of the law is significant.”

Ortiz continued to list reasons why M.L. is a victim, even if the sexual acts were consensual.

“I feel very sad for the victim in this case,” she said. “I want to remind the court and others he was the adult in this relationship. It’s disheartening that she feels responsible for it and feels she is a victim of the justice system.”

Ortiz emphasized Gonzalez not only violated the trust of M.L. and her family, but the trust of the Catholic church.

Calling his behavior “a crime and a sin,” Sacramento Catholic Church officials told the Sacramento Bee they will ask the Vatican to defrock Gonzalez after he pleaded guilty in June.

“Only one failed here,” Ortiz said. “And it was not the child. The damage is already done, let her move on with her life.”

After listening to counsel, Richardson emphasized Gonzalez’s position of “significance” and “trust” in the community.

“I find that this was a violation of trust,” Richardson said. “Given the age difference and lack of life experience of the victim, I find the terms outlined by the probation department applicable.”

Richardson sentenced Gonzalez to 90 days in the Yolo County Jail, with three years of formal probation, and he is required to attend sex offender counseling. He also ordered Gonzalez to stay away from the victim until November, when she turns 18.

“People of a certain age because of a lack of experience in life need some protection,” Richardson said. “We have in this case a person who simply knew better.”

 

 

http://www.dailydemocrat.com/breakingnews/ci_26433401/davis-priest-sentenced-probation-90-days-jail-sex

The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (III)

The Curious Case of Carlos Urrutigoity (III)

 

Fr. Carlos Urrutigoity knew it would be a tough sell. He wanted Jeffrey Bond to help build his dreamed-of Catholic liberal-arts college. Bond had moved to Shohola, Pennsylvania, in 1999 to be near the Society of St. John, soon after it had acquired property there. But he already had a job teaching at a New Jersey high school. And Urrutigoity’s offer was hardly a no-brainer. It’s hard enough to run a college that already has buildings and students. The College of St. Justin Martyr, as it would be called, had neither.

Urrutigoity assured Bond that the Society would provide the necessary funds—by covering tuition for its members and by raising money for the college until it could stand on its own, according to sworn testimony Bond would later give. (A chronology prepared by the SSJ claimed Urrutigoity “warned” Bond about the group’s “difficult financial position.”) Nevertheless, Bond, who had taught at Thomas Aquinas College, a conservative great-books school in California, found the idea intriguing. He would develop the school’s theoretical framework, hire its faculty, and oversee its educational mission—all under the spiritual care of priests committed to the “restoration of the traditional Catholic liturgy and civilization,” as a Society of St. John mailer put it. So Bond took the job. His career with the SSJ began on April 1, 2000. It would be a short honeymoon.

Within months it would become clear to Bond that Urrutigoity was using the college to raise money in order to service the Society of St. John’s mounting debt. That financial burden—along with later accusations of clergy misconduct—would doom whatever chance the college had to survive, and would eventually help to sink the Society itself. For a time.

Bond and a few others incorporated the college separately in August 2000. The idea was to start by teaching SSJ novices, eventually developing the institution into a four-year college open to the public. By mid-October, SSJ postulants began taking a full course load taught by seven professors, including Nestor Sequeiros, who was brought over from Argentina to teach Latin. His reputation preceded him.

“Long before Mr. Sequeiros arrived…we had heard Society members speak of his awesome abilities, penetrating intellect, and academic prowess,” according to a 2001 letter Bond wrote (with Fr. Richard Munkelt) to auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty of Scranton. He was so smart, rumor had it, that he had two PhDs. Sequeiros, who had taught Urrutigoity years before, was supposedly working on an “entirely new method of teaching Latin based on the liturgy” that would restore the language to “the center of Catholic life and thereby launch the Society into renown and glory,” Bond and Munkelt wrote. “Imagine our surprise,” the letter continued, when Sequeiros arrived and proved “unable to communicate effectively in English.”

As the school year went on, Bond inveighed upon Sequeiros to improve his English. But he refused, according to Bond and Munkelt’s letter. Adding insult to injury, the man was paid more than anyone else at the SSJ. His salary was $65,000, and he was given free room and board, free use of a car, and free airfare to Argentina. When Fr. Munkelt, then an SSJ member and vice president of the college, complained to Urrutigoity, he replied, “We can spend our money any way we like,” according to the letter. Later Bond and Munkelt were told that even if Sequeiros failed to do his job he would still be paid—because he was one of the founders of the Society of St. John.

By January, most of the college’s students had left the Society altogether. Bond stopped teaching the few who remained so he could focus on fundraising. That too would prove frustrating. The SSJ updated supporters and potential donors in a regular newsletter called the Epistle. They always concluded with a request for donations—and usually mentioned the need to build a college. But “Urrutigoity refused…to allow us to make a direct appeal for money for the college,” Bond and Munkelt wrote. “We were not even allowed to attach an envelope to the Epistle that would have allowed supporters to send money directly to the college.”

After much prodding, Urrutigoity eventually allowed Bond to place an appeal letter in the February 2001 Epistle. But his permission came with a catch. If the SSJ’s income for that month reflected a loss, the college would have to return any money it had received through the appeal.

If Bond couldn’t raise money through the Society’s mailings, he thought he’d try his own. But when he sought access to the SSJ’s database of donors, he was “never denied, but always put off,” he and Munkelt wrote. Before long, “we became convinced that the Society had no intention of sharing its resources with the college.” At a May 2001 meeting with SSJ representatives, Bond informed them that the Society and the college needed to “go their separate ways.” Urrutigoity announced that Bond’s salary would no longer be covered by the SSJ—and that the college would have to be financially independent by June,” according to Bond and Munkelt.

At the same time, Bond began to question Urrutigoity’s commitment to his postulants’ education. “On one occasion,” Bond and Munkelt wrote, “students were even required to miss class in order to move mattresses.” On others, they were taken out of class to “undertake the ever-increasing maintenance and fundraising efforts that have become the hallmark of the Society’s work.” The extracurricular demands on the students became so great that class size dwindled to two or three students.

At an August 16 meeting, Bond and Munkelt told Urrutigoity that they wanted the college to be completely separate from the Society of St. John (by this point Munkelt had informed Urrutigoity that he wanted out of the SSJ). The Society, Bond and Munkelt explained, had become a hindrance to the college’s fundraising efforts. (The SSJ chronology alleges that the Bond and Munkelt wanted to approach potential donors who disagreed with the liturgical position of the Society—the idea being that the college would be stricter in its practice of the old Latin Mass. Bond later denied that.) At that point, according to Bond and Munkelt, they were offered access to the SSJ database. But they weren’t buying it. They felt Urrutigoity had “strung us along…in order to keep us within the fold of the Society so that the Society could continue to advertise the College for its own desperate financial needs.”

If that wasn’t enough to persuade Bond that his relationship with the Society of St. John had run its course, what he’d learn three days later would do the trick.

On August 19, 2001, Bond was visited by Alan Hicks, then headmaster of St. Gregory’s Academy, the boarding school where SSJ members had lived and taught before moving to the Shohola property. Hicks reported “Urrutigoity’s bizarre occasional practice of sleeping with young men, both individually and in groups within his private chambers,” Bond and Munkelt wrote to auxiliary Bishop Dougherty. To their knowledge, no one had alleged that the practice was “of a sexual nature,” but Bond and Munkelt wanted the bishop to know how inappropriate this was, especially given the media coverage of clergy accused of misconduct. They also told Dougherty that Hicks informed them of Urrutigoity’s “pet theory” of friendship, in which sleeping together supposedly fosters intimacy and loyalty. What Hicks claimed was “even more disturbing,” Bond and Munkelt wrote, because Urrutigoity had supplied underage boys with alcohol and tobacco.

“Mr. Hicks’s testimony establishes a pattern of aberrant behavior on the part of Rev. Urrutigoity that draws into question his concern for the good of the young men” under his care—boys who respond with alacrity to his charisma and degrading strategy of presenting himself as their peer,” Bond and Munkelt wrote. Students felt free to curse in Urrutigoity’s presence, and “even to press their backsides against him in order to pass wind upon him,” according to the letter. Hicks said that Urrutigoity had pillow fights with the boys “while he and they are dressed only in their underwear,” Bond and Munkelt wrote. At that time, Bond learned that an abuse lawsuit was pending against Urrutigoity and the Society of St. John, he later wrote in a widely distributed e-mail.

In a 2012 interview Hicks posted to a website he created, he denied knowing anything about Urrutigoity supplying students with alcohol or tobacco, and claimed that he would have thrown out any priest he believed had slept with students. Hicks had been accused of misfeasance for not putting a stop to the alleged misdeeds. The website also contains letters of support for Hicks’s leadership at St. Gregory’s.

Urrutigoity has denied the accusations under oath. But Scranton’s bishops believed he had slept with young men and offered them alcohol. Auxiliary Bishop Dougherty “expressed his conviction that Urrutigoity was a ‘cult leader’ who was ‘capable of pederasty,'” wrote Bond in a December 2001 e-mail. (Dougherty did not respond to a request for comment.)

Dougherty–then vicar general–learned of the allegations of bed-sharing and alcohol consumption on August 14 or 15, 2001, according to an unpublished article Timlin wrote in February 2002. Dougherty visited Shohola to meet with the accused on August 16. “The priest [Urrutigoity] admitted that such sleeping incidents did occur,” Timlin wrote, but he denied they were sexual in nature. Society members also acknowledged that they had given alcohol to minors. The man who had accused Urrutigoity was interviewed “and seemed credible,” according to Timlin. But Urrutigoity maintained nothing immoral had taken place. So Timlin sent Urrutigoity to Fr. Benedict Groeschel, who holds a master’s in counseling and a doctor of education in psychology, for evaluation.

The nature of that evaluation remains murky. Bond had written to the apostolic nuncio about his concerns, and the nuncio promptly forwarded the letter to Timlin. The bishop replied, quoting part of Groeschel’s evaluation of Urrutigoity:

Carlos [Urrutigoity] is one of those people whose creative mind outstrips his common sense…. As regards the question of moral impropriety that some people have raised against him—I found no indication of homosexuality in this report at all.

The report Groeschel mentioned is not available, nor is it explained. Also unclear is whether Urrutigoity and Groeschel were previously acquainted. In February 2000, Urrutigoity wrote to Timlin to ask whether the bishop would meet two priests and one brother he’d invited from Argentina who were “looking to establish their order,” Miles Christe, in the United States. “I am encouraging them to meet with the Rev. Frs. Groeschel, Hardon, and Fessio, so that they can benefit from their vast experience,” Urrutigoity wrote.

In the meantime, Timlin ordered SSJ members to stop sharing beds with young men and to stop giving them alcohol—“in the strongest possible terms”—he wrote to the nuncio. “The Independent Review Board…agreed that we were proceeding properly and prudently.”

Review Board minutes complicate Timlin’s account. The board met to discuss the matter on November 7, 2001. By then, Bond had e-mailed other SSJ members about the allegations against Urrutigoity. Word was getting around. At the same time, Bond’s dispute with the SSJ over the College of St. Justin Martyr had reached an impasse. He had sought the bishop’s permission to start a Catholic college apart from the Society, but Timlin wouldn’t allow it. The bishop told the Review Board that Bond’s allegations against the Society began “only after” the bishop denied him permission to establish a Catholic college, a claim Bond has long denied and is not supported by the public record. But the Review Board tried to keep Timlin focused on the matter at hand.

“Dr. Hogan said that regardless of the issues concerning St. Justin Martyr College, the behavior of the priest should be of paramount concern,” according to minutes. She recalled the “red flag” of Matthew Selinger’s previous allegation that Urrutigoity had touched his penis while he slept. Another board member reminded Timlin that Bond may have done the diocese a favor by alerting them to this behavior.

“Dr. Barrett said he thinks the behavior…could be labeled ‘seductive behavior’…. The priest may label it anything he wants, but Dr. Barrett stated he still believes it ‘improper.’” When Timlin related Groeschel’s findings to the Review Board, Barrett said that “he did not believe that Fr. Groeschel could determine homosexuality by testing.”

Groeschel has worked with many priests accused of sexual abuse. Some he reported fit to return to ministry. But, according to the Diocese of Paterson, New Jersey, Groeschel’s judgment was not always sound. According to a 2003 report in the Dallas Morning News,

[The] Diocese of Paterson, N.J., one of several that sent business to Father Groeschel, blamed three “unfortunate” reassignments on his advice. Two of those priests were subsequently accused of misconduct in their new jobs.

“We relied on his recommendations,” said Marianna Thompson, spokeswoman for Paterson Bishop Frank Rodimer. Father Groeschel used words such as “transformation,” she said, and helped arrange transfers between dioceses.

Groeschel replied to the Dallas Morning News article here, denying he was involved in those cases. But in 2012 Groeschel controversially claimed some abusive priests were seduced by their victims, remarks that were disavowed by his religious community and by the Archdiocese of New York. He later apologized.

Of course, at the time the Diocese of Scranton’s Review Board had no idea that Groeschel’s ability to assess the fitness of priests for ministry had been called into question. Nevertheless, James Earley, then chancellor for the Diocese of Scranton, pointed out that average Catholics “will never believe that a priest could do such a thing with innocent intentions.” He asked board members how they would react if they were considering the case of a parish priest who made a habit of sleeping with young men.

Timlin replied that there had not been allegations of “immoral sexual acts.” He asked Review Board members for their advice. They recommended the bishop continue monitoring Urrutigoity to make sure he stopped sleeping with boys and giving them alcohol. But without an “explicit and direct complaint about improper sexual activity” on the part of Urrutigoity, they had “nothing specific to recommend.”

It wouldn’t be long before such a complaint surfaced.

 

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/blog/curious-case-carlos-urrutigoity-iii

Fighting for history: Uncovering the truth of residential schools

Fighting for history: Uncovering the truth of residential schools

 

WINNIPEG—There are two sacred boxes in the offices of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

One is a bentwood box sculpted from a single piece of cedar by an indigenous artist. Its panels are adorned with the mournful carved faces representing First Nations and Métis who suffered through the residential schools era, when government-sanctioned institutions systemically tried to eradicate indigenous culture, tore apart families and operated havens for child abuse.

The other box is a tall obelisk tucked away in an air-conditioned closet. Its blinking lights and bright blue screen belie the sacred stories that lie within. The archive stored on the server — more than four million letters, photographs and government records — is the life’s work of the truth commission. Where the bentwood box represents reconciliation, the black server tower holds truth.

This story is about the struggle for history. The government of Canada was responsible for the creation and administration of a system that included more than 130 residential schools spread across the country. Many were tucked into the corners of the nation, run for more than 100 years by dozens of different church groups including denominations of Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians and the United Church. All of these parties kept records of the institutions they ran.

The pressure from survivors who came forward in the 1990s resulted in the largest class action settlement this country has ever seen. A multibillion-dollar compensation effort has been unfolding since 2007, when the agreement was ratified, to attempt to address some of the wrongs.

But the other component of the settlement, that which will create a lasting national memory for Canadians of the residential school system, has been fraught with challenges. The battle over information has been the subject of three separate court hearings and multimillion-dollar document collection efforts that have been bogged down in countless government departments and church basements.

Kim Murray, the executive director of the commission charged with investigating and producing a report on residential schools, has been on the front line of this struggle since 2010.

When the commission began, the Canadian government disclosed a swathe of records that were prepared for the class-action. The quality was abysmal — grainy images, poor copies of written documents and a shoddy organizational system. In order to even gain access to the documents, the commission had to take the government to court. It was the first of three times a judge would have to rule on the fate of historical documents.This time Justice Stephen Goudge found in favour of the commission, but that battle would just be the start of its problems.

“We never thought we were going to find so many records that we didn’t have because they kept telling us, ‘We went through the archives, we got everything for litigation, Aboriginal Affairs should be no problem. We didn’t leave much behind,’” says Murray. “Then we found out the mess at the archives.”

What the commission found among the not-yet-catalogued boxes shocked Murray. Some boxes had photographs without captions, dates or locations. Others had quarterly returns — valuable documents filed by churches that listed the enrolment at schools and should have already been disclosed.

   

The fight for information

The fight for the future Canadian history is fought in the dusty basements of churches, the darkened corners of our national archives and in the unmarked boxes that hold untold stories.

Its warriors are armed with high-resolution scanners, laptops — and patience.

The federal government holds the largest repository of residential school records, splintered throughout the various departments that played a role. Health Canada may hold records of the so-called Indian hospitals. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada may hold records of the farms that were located at many residential schools. Even Transport Canada may have relevant details surrounding the methods used to transport survivors to and from residential schools.

“Canada as a whole doesn’t even know the full extent of its involvement over the years,” says Murray, speaking in the commission’s downtown Winnipeg office.

After the original decision in 2013 that upheld Canada’s obligation to produce comprehensive archival-quality records, Murray and her team went straight to work at the location of the national archives in Winnipeg until the government could tender a document management company. The government said it would have a new team in place July 2014 to take over the work, but Murray wasn’t convinced.

“I knew they weren’t going to be ready by July. That’s when I was on the phone to the (assistant deputy minister) saying, you can’t keep me out.” She poked the wood table in the Truth and Reconciliation office for emphasis. “‘The settlement agreement says you have to give me access. And I’m coming in.’

“They knew, OK, she isn’t messing around. They knew they had to let me in.”

There are some victories

Victories have been won by the commission’s digging and fighting. The second court battle over documents concerned records from St. Anne’s residential school in Fort Albany, Ont. In the 1990s, the Ontario Provincial Police investigated a decades-long history of widespread abuse, and a resulting court case led to convictions of staff from the school, but the records surrounding the investigation were kept secret.

After a hearing, Justice Paul Perell ordered that the documents be disclosed to the commission. Within that bundle was third-party confirmation of a creative and sadistic punishment at the school: a makeshift electric chair used on the children. Murray says survivors have been told they’re making up that element of the story, despite widespread agreement that it happened.

“To have that corroboration outside of it coming from a survivor is really important for those naysayers,” she says.

With the commission’s work, a murky history often reduced to averages and approximations is becoming sharpened. Their researchers are trying to figure out how many children died, were killed or went missing during the residential schools era.

The common figure used in government materials and media reports says that about 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in residential schools. So far the commission has counted 179,000 names from its records, including variations on names. (For example, both Sam George and Samantha George would be counted.) Out of that, it has matched the names of 4,000 children with death certificates from the provinces.

Those figures don’t include the bulk of registrations from prior to 1920, where the records are handwritten rather than typed. It also only counts deaths from the handful of provinces that Murray was able to get records from — Ontario, she says, has yet to produce death certificates.

“There are lots of holes. Obviously it’s something that’s going to have to continue. The National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is going to have to continue the work because we’re not going to get it done,” says Murray.

The research being done by the commission is the raw material that it will use for a sweeping report on the history, legacy and impact of residential schools, due to be released June 2015. Once the report is released, the commission will cease to exist and responsibility for the history of residential schools will be in the hands of the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

It’s the loose ends that weigh on Murray’s mind as furniture and data flow from one office to the other. Despite having more than four million records, there are still more truths to uncover.

Many of the Catholic entities that ran the school have refused to disclose records, and the staff at Library and Archives Canada is just beginning its own dive into the archive. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, parties have an obligation to give information to the commission, but once it vanishes, that obligation will vanish too.

“I know that we do not want to disappear as a (commission) without there being some legal obligation on the entities that have not complied to produce their documents” to the National Research Centre, she says.

“We won’t disappear without making sure something’s in place, because people shouldn’t be rewarded by not complying.”

Still on the horizon is perhaps the biggest fight yet for the history of residential schools. Justice Perell ordered in August that all of the transcripts from approximately 38,000 individual settlement hearings constituting the largest oral history of residential schools should — after a 15-year waiting period — be destroyed.

The survivors

Ted Fontaine wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions that came forth on the day in November 2008 when he gave his testimony.

“I walked in cocky and thinking nah, I can handle this,” says Fontaine, speaking in the modern temporary office of the research centre. “Piece of cake.”

The 72-year-old former chief of Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba is not one to falter in the face of a tough situation.

During a break two and a half hours into his testimony, “I staggered out of that meeting, my wife was waiting for me — she was in shock, started crying and (she) led me away” to a healing room, Fontaine says.

“That’s how sudden and devastating some of the information that came out was. There’s no way I want that destroyed.

“There’s a lot of things in there that people within that group heard, which in some cases is the very first time this surfaced even from an individual because in the process of disclosing something, something else would come up. That’s why they were so long — mine was about seven hours 45 minutes.”

The fate of the testimony of survivors still remains to be seen. Justice Perell has ordered the destruction of evidence given in the individual hearings, but the notice program, designed to allow survivors to choose whether or not their evidence is placed in the archive, will determine how much of the history goes to an incinerator. As with everything in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement process, it’s complicated. A court still has to agree to the scope and nature of the notice program, which will encounter problems like survivors who testified and are now deceased.

With the commission shuttering its offices, the research centre at the University of Manitoba will be the organization that takes up the banner of history as the notice program and other collection efforts unfold.

For now, the National Research Centre offices look more like a tech startup than an archive. In the square microchip of a building, sleek monitors flash decades-old church records at three masters students who are the early team sorting the haystacks of information into smaller piles — grinding the grist to a more manageable form.

“There’s so much fascinating stuff in the collection,” says Ry Moran, executive director of the centre. “You just need to have a basic curiosity and it’s our obligation to make sure that that curiosity can be satisfied with as slick and effective tools as possibly can be.”

Moran talks with the flowing cadence of a venture capitalist, using terms like “user groups” and “meta-data,” flitting from one idea to the next. He comes from a past working as a musician and as a researcher attempting to preserve disappearing aboriginal languages. His current position is a job that straddles the line between past and present.

The collection as it stands right now is useful only to those skilled in the arcane art of sifting through archives. But in the hands of Moran’s team, it will be transformed into something that the general public and — importantly — survivors can use. Reams of scattered federal records will be searchable by school or by name. Photos will be grouped under the proper headings. Context and history added to otherwise mundane pictures of buildings and rooms.

This work is exceedingly technical and, thanks to the University of Manitoba’s archives degree program, performed by skilled experts. The records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — obtained from more than 100 sources — must be catalogued properly according to modern archival standards.

“It’s a mega-project,” says Moran. Library and Archives Canada “could probably service the equivalent of building a small little house, where we were going and building a stadium.”

The project also faces legal hurdles. Manitoba’s privacy legislation has proven too restrictive for the archive’s needs. Important records like photos may be kept secret because they have the potential to identify living persons. To solve this, Moran and his team are working with political parties in the province and are in the midst of drafting a bill — dubbed the NRC Act — that would loosen privacy restrictions in accordance with the wishes of survivors.

“If it’s in a place like this, this is really accessible,” Fontaine says. “If it’s only for academics, you’re not going to get too many survivors coming. Hopefully people that are up there will be wise. Some of them are wise already,” he adds, in reference to Moran.

The next step for the research centre is to move into its new space. While the archive is entirely digital, the University of Manitoba has set up a physical space for survivors and others to go and browse the collection.

The space, currently under construction, will be housed in Chancellor’s Hall, an august heritage building on the shores of Winnipeg’s Red River.

While hammers are still banging out the future centre, Moran has a vision in mind for each room: a reading room where “the coffee is always on”; a private room for healing and reconciliation; iPads and print-on-demand to allow survivors and visitors to take pieces of the archives home with them.

“This has got to be a place where culture lives. It is not a place where culture is put on the walls and looked at,” says Moran. “We fail at our mission if this is where the records come to die.”

The future history of Canada

The research centre was born out of a three-day conference that brought together survivors, academics, historians and officials to lay the groundwork for the future of this piece of Canada’s history.

Phil Fontaine, former grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations and one of the survivors who led the residential school class action, says the history must not stay confined to the centre.

“We have to reach out to the country. We have to reach out to Canadians,” said Fontaine (who is Ted’s cousin) at the 2011 conference. “This is about writing the missing chapter in Canadian history. This is about making sure that never again will people be abused simply because of their race … We should be on Bay Street inviting Bay Street to embrace this very important piece of their history, our collective history.”

For survivors, it’s important that the archive does not become a staid repository of documents for researchers and academics. Ted Fontaine, who was taken to residential school when he was 7 years old, has spent a lifetime confronting what happened to him and found solace in learning that others have shared his trauma.

“It’s not only for the academic world, but people that want to go and heal are going to use it,” Ted Fontaine says. “I’m going to use it. And hopefully everything will be in a way” that you can find things.

He wants to know where the records are of two schools he attended, Fort Alexander Indian Residential School and Assiniboia Indian Residential School.

“I knew all the stuff that happened in that era and I knew all the people that were there. Most of us are gone but it still helps in healing,” he says.

“Once I review what happened, it gets a little softer, I can handle this. The next nightmare I have, I’ll remember how I handled it previously in the nightmare.”

The commission’s report is designed not only to get at the truth of residential schools but to also explore the lasting impacts it has on indigenous communities in Canada. Part of the commission’s report will address the connection between residential schools and the approximately 1,100 missing and murdered indigenous women. But one of the challenges the TRC faces is in ensuring the report lives and its recommendations are repeated rather than shelved.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has enlisted 57 honorary witnesses, who are tasked with helping the broader Canadian public engage with the history of residential schools and keeping the report alive.

“We’re having a two-day meeting with them in Toronto in November to ask exactly that,” Murray says. “How are you going to further this work when the TRC is gone? What are you going to do as an honorary witness?

“We’re trying to get them to come together and say how are you going to change the minds and hearts of Canadians and what are you going to do to help?”

The witnesses include people from all walks of life, including former prime ministers Paul Martin and Joe Clark, former governor general Michaëlle Jean, and influential aboriginal leaders like Wab Kinew, the associate vice-president of indigenous relations at the University of Winnipeg.

For Kinew, the truth is essential to reconciliation. His father attended residential school and testified at a hearing. Kinew has his father’s testimony on DVD, but has not yet watched it.

“To me it’s an obligation to hang on to that and to make sure it’s preserved. I don’t want to make the decision unilaterally now because I feel I have an obligation to preserve the truth for the future generations in our family. So similarly, I think we should preserve this history for posterity so that we honour our obligation that the future generations in this country can learn the truth.

“To me, the way I think about it — truth and reconciliation — it’s a very powerful statement, but to me it’s also informative: no truth, no reconciliation. If we don’t hear the truth about this residential school era then there is not going to be reconciliation, there’s going to be false pretenses for the rebuilding of a relationship and those are not good starting positions,” says Kinew.

“If the rest of the country is not willing to entertain the truth of what happened in this era then how are they going to be able to appreciate the contemporary reality of indigenous communities?”

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/08/29/fighting_for_history_uncovering_the_truth_of_residential_schools.html

Fighting for history: Uncovering the truth of residential schools

Fighting for history: Uncovering the truth of residential schools

 

WINNIPEG—There are two sacred boxes in the offices of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission.

One is a bentwood box sculpted from a single piece of cedar by an indigenous artist. Its panels are adorned with the mournful carved faces representing First Nations and Métis who suffered through the residential schools era, when government-sanctioned institutions systemically tried to eradicate indigenous culture, tore apart families and operated havens for child abuse.

The other box is a tall obelisk tucked away in an air-conditioned closet. Its blinking lights and bright blue screen belie the sacred stories that lie within. The archive stored on the server — more than four million letters, photographs and government records — is the life’s work of the truth commission. Where the bentwood box represents reconciliation, the black server tower holds truth.

This story is about the struggle for history. The government of Canada was responsible for the creation and administration of a system that included more than 130 residential schools spread across the country. Many were tucked into the corners of the nation, run for more than 100 years by dozens of different church groups including denominations of Catholics, Anglicans, Presbyterians and the United Church. All of these parties kept records of the institutions they ran.

The pressure from survivors who came forward in the 1990s resulted in the largest class action settlement this country has ever seen. A multibillion-dollar compensation effort has been unfolding since 2007, when the agreement was ratified, to attempt to address some of the wrongs.

But the other component of the settlement, that which will create a lasting national memory for Canadians of the residential school system, has been fraught with challenges. The battle over information has been the subject of three separate court hearings and multimillion-dollar document collection efforts that have been bogged down in countless government departments and church basements.

Kim Murray, the executive director of the commission charged with investigating and producing a report on residential schools, has been on the front line of this struggle since 2010.

When the commission began, the Canadian government disclosed a swathe of records that were prepared for the class-action. The quality was abysmal — grainy images, poor copies of written documents and a shoddy organizational system. In order to even gain access to the documents, the commission had to take the government to court. It was the first of three times a judge would have to rule on the fate of historical documents.This time Justice Stephen Goudge found in favour of the commission, but that battle would just be the start of its problems.

“We never thought we were going to find so many records that we didn’t have because they kept telling us, ‘We went through the archives, we got everything for litigation, Aboriginal Affairs should be no problem. We didn’t leave much behind,’” says Murray. “Then we found out the mess at the archives.”

What the commission found among the not-yet-catalogued boxes shocked Murray. Some boxes had photographs without captions, dates or locations. Others had quarterly returns — valuable documents filed by churches that listed the enrolment at schools and should have already been disclosed.

   

The fight for information

The fight for the future Canadian history is fought in the dusty basements of churches, the darkened corners of our national archives and in the unmarked boxes that hold untold stories.

Its warriors are armed with high-resolution scanners, laptops — and patience.

The federal government holds the largest repository of residential school records, splintered throughout the various departments that played a role. Health Canada may hold records of the so-called Indian hospitals. Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada may hold records of the farms that were located at many residential schools. Even Transport Canada may have relevant details surrounding the methods used to transport survivors to and from residential schools.

“Canada as a whole doesn’t even know the full extent of its involvement over the years,” says Murray, speaking in the commission’s downtown Winnipeg office.

After the original decision in 2013 that upheld Canada’s obligation to produce comprehensive archival-quality records, Murray and her team went straight to work at the location of the national archives in Winnipeg until the government could tender a document management company. The government said it would have a new team in place July 2014 to take over the work, but Murray wasn’t convinced.

“I knew they weren’t going to be ready by July. That’s when I was on the phone to the (assistant deputy minister) saying, you can’t keep me out.” She poked the wood table in the Truth and Reconciliation office for emphasis. “‘The settlement agreement says you have to give me access. And I’m coming in.’

“They knew, OK, she isn’t messing around. They knew they had to let me in.”

There are some victories

Victories have been won by the commission’s digging and fighting. The second court battle over documents concerned records from St. Anne’s residential school in Fort Albany, Ont. In the 1990s, the Ontario Provincial Police investigated a decades-long history of widespread abuse, and a resulting court case led to convictions of staff from the school, but the records surrounding the investigation were kept secret.

After a hearing, Justice Paul Perell ordered that the documents be disclosed to the commission. Within that bundle was third-party confirmation of a creative and sadistic punishment at the school: a makeshift electric chair used on the children. Murray says survivors have been told they’re making up that element of the story, despite widespread agreement that it happened.

“To have that corroboration outside of it coming from a survivor is really important for those naysayers,” she says.

With the commission’s work, a murky history often reduced to averages and approximations is becoming sharpened. Their researchers are trying to figure out how many children died, were killed or went missing during the residential schools era.

The common figure used in government materials and media reports says that about 150,000 indigenous children were taken from their families and placed in residential schools. So far the commission has counted 179,000 names from its records, including variations on names. (For example, both Sam George and Samantha George would be counted.) Out of that, it has matched the names of 4,000 children with death certificates from the provinces.

Those figures don’t include the bulk of registrations from prior to 1920, where the records are handwritten rather than typed. It also only counts deaths from the handful of provinces that Murray was able to get records from — Ontario, she says, has yet to produce death certificates.

“There are lots of holes. Obviously it’s something that’s going to have to continue. The National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation is going to have to continue the work because we’re not going to get it done,” says Murray.

The research being done by the commission is the raw material that it will use for a sweeping report on the history, legacy and impact of residential schools, due to be released June 2015. Once the report is released, the commission will cease to exist and responsibility for the history of residential schools will be in the hands of the National Research Centre for Truth and Reconciliation at the University of Manitoba.

It’s the loose ends that weigh on Murray’s mind as furniture and data flow from one office to the other. Despite having more than four million records, there are still more truths to uncover.

Many of the Catholic entities that ran the school have refused to disclose records, and the staff at Library and Archives Canada is just beginning its own dive into the archive. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, parties have an obligation to give information to the commission, but once it vanishes, that obligation will vanish too.

“I know that we do not want to disappear as a (commission) without there being some legal obligation on the entities that have not complied to produce their documents” to the National Research Centre, she says.

“We won’t disappear without making sure something’s in place, because people shouldn’t be rewarded by not complying.”

Still on the horizon is perhaps the biggest fight yet for the history of residential schools. Justice Perell ordered in August that all of the transcripts from approximately 38,000 individual settlement hearings constituting the largest oral history of residential schools should — after a 15-year waiting period — be destroyed.

The survivors

Ted Fontaine wasn’t prepared for the flood of emotions that came forth on the day in November 2008 when he gave his testimony.

“I walked in cocky and thinking nah, I can handle this,” says Fontaine, speaking in the modern temporary office of the research centre. “Piece of cake.”

The 72-year-old former chief of Sagkeeng First Nation in Manitoba is not one to falter in the face of a tough situation.

During a break two and a half hours into his testimony, “I staggered out of that meeting, my wife was waiting for me — she was in shock, started crying and (she) led me away” to a healing room, Fontaine says.

“That’s how sudden and devastating some of the information that came out was. There’s no way I want that destroyed.

“There’s a lot of things in there that people within that group heard, which in some cases is the very first time this surfaced even from an individual because in the process of disclosing something, something else would come up. That’s why they were so long — mine was about seven hours 45 minutes.”

The fate of the testimony of survivors still remains to be seen. Justice Perell has ordered the destruction of evidence given in the individual hearings, but the notice program, designed to allow survivors to choose whether or not their evidence is placed in the archive, will determine how much of the history goes to an incinerator. As with everything in the Indian Residential Schools Settlement Agreement process, it’s complicated. A court still has to agree to the scope and nature of the notice program, which will encounter problems like survivors who testified and are now deceased.

With the commission shuttering its offices, the research centre at the University of Manitoba will be the organization that takes up the banner of history as the notice program and other collection efforts unfold.

For now, the National Research Centre offices look more like a tech startup than an archive. In the square microchip of a building, sleek monitors flash decades-old church records at three masters students who are the early team sorting the haystacks of information into smaller piles — grinding the grist to a more manageable form.

“There’s so much fascinating stuff in the collection,” says Ry Moran, executive director of the centre. “You just need to have a basic curiosity and it’s our obligation to make sure that that curiosity can be satisfied with as slick and effective tools as possibly can be.”

Moran talks with the flowing cadence of a venture capitalist, using terms like “user groups” and “meta-data,” flitting from one idea to the next. He comes from a past working as a musician and as a researcher attempting to preserve disappearing aboriginal languages. His current position is a job that straddles the line between past and present.

The collection as it stands right now is useful only to those skilled in the arcane art of sifting through archives. But in the hands of Moran’s team, it will be transformed into something that the general public and — importantly — survivors can use. Reams of scattered federal records will be searchable by school or by name. Photos will be grouped under the proper headings. Context and history added to otherwise mundane pictures of buildings and rooms.

This work is exceedingly technical and, thanks to the University of Manitoba’s archives degree program, performed by skilled experts. The records of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission — obtained from more than 100 sources — must be catalogued properly according to modern archival standards.

“It’s a mega-project,” says Moran. Library and Archives Canada “could probably service the equivalent of building a small little house, where we were going and building a stadium.”

The project also faces legal hurdles. Manitoba’s privacy legislation has proven too restrictive for the archive’s needs. Important records like photos may be kept secret because they have the potential to identify living persons. To solve this, Moran and his team are working with political parties in the province and are in the midst of drafting a bill — dubbed the NRC Act — that would loosen privacy restrictions in accordance with the wishes of survivors.

“If it’s in a place like this, this is really accessible,” Fontaine says. “If it’s only for academics, you’re not going to get too many survivors coming. Hopefully people that are up there will be wise. Some of them are wise already,” he adds, in reference to Moran.

The next step for the research centre is to move into its new space. While the archive is entirely digital, the University of Manitoba has set up a physical space for survivors and others to go and browse the collection.

The space, currently under construction, will be housed in Chancellor’s Hall, an august heritage building on the shores of Winnipeg’s Red River.

While hammers are still banging out the future centre, Moran has a vision in mind for each room: a reading room where “the coffee is always on”; a private room for healing and reconciliation; iPads and print-on-demand to allow survivors and visitors to take pieces of the archives home with them.

“This has got to be a place where culture lives. It is not a place where culture is put on the walls and looked at,” says Moran. “We fail at our mission if this is where the records come to die.”

The future history of Canada

The research centre was born out of a three-day conference that brought together survivors, academics, historians and officials to lay the groundwork for the future of this piece of Canada’s history.

Phil Fontaine, former grand chief of the Assembly of First Nations and one of the survivors who led the residential school class action, says the history must not stay confined to the centre.

“We have to reach out to the country. We have to reach out to Canadians,” said Fontaine (who is Ted’s cousin) at the 2011 conference. “This is about writing the missing chapter in Canadian history. This is about making sure that never again will people be abused simply because of their race … We should be on Bay Street inviting Bay Street to embrace this very important piece of their history, our collective history.”

For survivors, it’s important that the archive does not become a staid repository of documents for researchers and academics. Ted Fontaine, who was taken to residential school when he was 7 years old, has spent a lifetime confronting what happened to him and found solace in learning that others have shared his trauma.

“It’s not only for the academic world, but people that want to go and heal are going to use it,” Ted Fontaine says. “I’m going to use it. And hopefully everything will be in a way” that you can find things.

He wants to know where the records are of two schools he attended, Fort Alexander Indian Residential School and Assiniboia Indian Residential School.

“I knew all the stuff that happened in that era and I knew all the people that were there. Most of us are gone but it still helps in healing,” he says.

“Once I review what happened, it gets a little softer, I can handle this. The next nightmare I have, I’ll remember how I handled it previously in the nightmare.”

The commission’s report is designed not only to get at the truth of residential schools but to also explore the lasting impacts it has on indigenous communities in Canada. Part of the commission’s report will address the connection between residential schools and the approximately 1,100 missing and murdered indigenous women. But one of the challenges the TRC faces is in ensuring the report lives and its recommendations are repeated rather than shelved.

The Truth and Reconciliation Commission has enlisted 57 honorary witnesses, who are tasked with helping the broader Canadian public engage with the history of residential schools and keeping the report alive.

“We’re having a two-day meeting with them in Toronto in November to ask exactly that,” Murray says. “How are you going to further this work when the TRC is gone? What are you going to do as an honorary witness?

“We’re trying to get them to come together and say how are you going to change the minds and hearts of Canadians and what are you going to do to help?”

The witnesses include people from all walks of life, including former prime ministers Paul Martin and Joe Clark, former governor general Michaëlle Jean, and influential aboriginal leaders like Wab Kinew, the associate vice-president of indigenous relations at the University of Winnipeg.

For Kinew, the truth is essential to reconciliation. His father attended residential school and testified at a hearing. Kinew has his father’s testimony on DVD, but has not yet watched it.

“To me it’s an obligation to hang on to that and to make sure it’s preserved. I don’t want to make the decision unilaterally now because I feel I have an obligation to preserve the truth for the future generations in our family. So similarly, I think we should preserve this history for posterity so that we honour our obligation that the future generations in this country can learn the truth.

“To me, the way I think about it — truth and reconciliation — it’s a very powerful statement, but to me it’s also informative: no truth, no reconciliation. If we don’t hear the truth about this residential school era then there is not going to be reconciliation, there’s going to be false pretenses for the rebuilding of a relationship and those are not good starting positions,” says Kinew.

“If the rest of the country is not willing to entertain the truth of what happened in this era then how are they going to be able to appreciate the contemporary reality of indigenous communities?”

 

http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2014/08/29/fighting_for_history_uncovering_the_truth_of_residential_schools.html

Archbishop speaks on Benavente firing

Archbishop speaks on Benavente firing

 

Archbishop Anthony Apuron on Thursday, during a Mass at Father Duenas Memorial School, spoke publicly about his decision to fire Monsignor James Benavente, saying he didn’t fire Benavente “to be mean.”

Benavente was rector at the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica for nearly 20 years and director of Catholic Cemeteries until Apuron fired him last month, alleging poor financial management.

Apuron said, in his 28 years as the archbishop, he “only sought to do the will of God and to follow whatever commands I receive from Rome.”

“And I’m trying to be obedient. And I really do this out of a good conscience; I don’t do it to be vindictive. I don’t do it really to be mean.”

The archbishop acknowledged that he’s been criticized by some in the local Catholic community, including in letters to the Vatican and on blogs.

“There’s one parishioner in one parish who asked the pastor, ‘Can we recall him?’ as if he voted me in. It is the pope who decided to elect me, … and it will remain that way until he decides in Rome,” Apuron said. “And I know that he has been receiving a lot of complaints, you know, especially through the Internet and through the blogs and whatnot.”

Some who attended the Mass at Father Duenas Memorial School recorded it and posted it on the Jungle Watch blog.

The archbishop had issued written statements that the firing of Benavente was related to poor financial management and record-keeping at the Cathedral-Basilica and Catholic Cemeteries.

But a group of local financial experts who are familiar with Cathedral-Basilica and cemetery finances said the problems the archbishop cited existed before Benavente was in charge.

The accusation of poor fiscal management by Benavente “was not supported by the facts,” Joseph Rivera, a former budget director for the government of Guam, said in a press conference on Aug. 6.

Rivera was joined at the press conference outside the Cathedral-Basilica by Department of Revenue and Taxation Commissioner Art Ilagan and Rick Duenas, a certified public accountant.

Gerald Taitano, president of the Cathedral-Basilica Parish Council, also wrote to Apuron that the written public statements the archbishop made about Benavente’s management were “disconcerting.”

 

http://www.guampdn.com/article/20140830/NEWS01/308300003/Archbishop-speaks-Benavente-firing

Associate pastor breaks silence on abuse

Associate pastor breaks silence on abuse

Kristopher Schondelmeyer, 30, is the associate pastor at Christ Presbyterian Church in Toledo, responsible for youth and small-group ministry and adult education. When he was a teenager, a minister touched him sexually, he alleges, but even so, he became a minister. And though he serves the Presbyterian Church, he is suing it. He claims that repressed memory kept him from realizing until November 2012 that he was a victim of clergy sexual abuse in July 2000.

His attorneys filed a legal petition in Fulton, Mo., on April 14, and an initial hearing was held in Columbia, Mo., Aug. 18, for a lawsuit against Fulton’s First Presbyterian Church and the larger bodies that Fulton’s church is a part of, including the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Presbyterian Foundation, which holds church funds, is also a defendant. And Jack Wayne Rogers, 69, at the time an ordained Presbyterian lay minister, now a federal prison inmate convicted in 2004 of child pornography and obscenity, is named as the abuser and is also being sued. The Rev. Schondelmeyer is asking for “compensatory and punitive damages” and “other and further relief,” the lawsuit says.

Rev. Schondelmeyer’s allegations include that Rogers and the Presbyterian Church established a ”trust relationship” with him and, exploiting that, Rogers “engaged in non-consensual sex acts with the plaintiff” on a church trip to a youth conference in Maryland. Rogers had been convicted of child pornography in 1992, and the lawsuit alleges the church knew, yet made him a chaperone for youth, and also that the church was “encouraging [Rogers] to commit the abuse and battery” and “actively concealing the abuse after it occurred.” The Church also violated its own policies and procedures regarding sex abusers, the lawsuit says.

His Toledo congregation is very supportive of Rev. Schondelmeyer, said its pastor, the Rev. Tom Schwartz. “Our governing body, or session, had talked with Kris about it,” and a letter was sent to all members. The alleged abuse, cover-up, and lack of accountability, response, and help by the Church is “out of line. It’s why we would agree that his desire to litigate would be something we would be in support of.”

Attorneys Sarah Brown and Rebecca Randles of Kansas City, Mo., are representing Rev. Schondelmeyer. “Our firm for many, many years has handled cases for victims of childhood sexual abuse” and focuses on both clergy and psychiatric sex abuse, Ms. Brown said. “We thought he had a compelling case.”

The Christ Presbyterian Church in Toledo, Ohio.The Christ Presbyterian Church in Toledo, Ohio.
THE BLADE/LORI KINGEnlarge | Buy This Photo

Rev. Schondelmeyer would not comment and referred The Blade to David Clohessy, executive director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), as his spokesman. Mr. Clohessy, of St. Louis, is also a sex abuse survivor. He said that Rev. Schondelmeyer “is a wonderful, brave man who is deeply and justifiably concerned about others who may have been hurt by this awful predator, and he tried very hard to get church officials to do outreach to others who are suffering, with little success. So he felt almost morally compelled to take legal action for the sake of others.”

In a SNAP press release, Rev. Schondelmeyer is quoted, “My biggest fear isn‘‍t whether or not Presbyterian Church officials will do what is good, and right, and just. It’‍s that there might be other victims who are suffering in silence.”

 Mr. Clohessy said, “If anybody has been or is affected or suffered Rogers’s crimes, we want them to know that they are not alone, it’s not their fault, and recovery is possible. But it’s crucial that they share their burdens with someone they trust and not try to bear this pain alone.”

 A victim of clergy abuse might become a minister because “a lot of people go into ministry in order to heal their own wounds,” said the Rev. Barbara Lee of Grand Haven, Mich., who calls herself “the sex minister” and wrote a book on sexual ethics. “Sometimes that’s not very conscious.”

Rev. Lee, a survivor of sexual abuse, said, “A lot of that need for healing comes from that sense of how we’ve broken our interpersonal bridge to ourself, and so we don’t have that awareness—which is probably where some of [Rev. Schondelmeyer‘‍s] memory lapse comes from. And our culture is so shame-based around sexuality, so then we don’t have those healthy outlets to explore that, to share it openly, and so we repress.”

“Repressed memory happens in a minority of cases, but far more than most people expect,” Mr. Clohessy said. “It’s a common, though often misunderstood, psychological coping mechanism.”

Mr. Clohessy said that abuse is not a faith killer. “Kris is like a number of clergy sex abuse victims who are able to separate the actions of one or a few men from the rest of the belief system. … He really very much loves the Presbyterian Church and faith.”

 “There is so much compassion and mercy in my heart, and I would rather stand with church leaders, than against them, to work together to create safe and sacred space for children and youth,” Rev. Schondelmeyer said in the SNAP press release.

The Presbyterian Foundation “does not have any comment at this time,” Rob Bullock, its vice president for marketing and communications, stated in an email.

Rogers has not responded to a written request for comments.

Read more at http://www.toledoblade.com/Religion/2014/08/30/Associate-pastor-breaks-silence-on-abuse.html#6PZmwUvMPi5s6Prs.99

 

 

Choice of new Madrid archbishop marks new course for Spain’s bishops

Choice of new Madrid archbishop marks new course for Spain’s bishops

.- The appointment of Carlos Osoro Sierra as the new Archbishop of Madrid is another step forward in the renewal of the ranks of the Spanish bishops that at the same time raises expectations for Curia reform.

The Vatican announced Aug. 28 that Archbishop Osoro, who headed the Valencia archdiocese, would go to Madrid to take the place of Cardinal Antonio Rouco Varela, who resigned due to reaching the age limit for archbishops set by Church law.
 
Cardinal Antonio Canizares Llovera, who has served in the Vatican as prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship since 2008, will take Archbishop Osoro’s place as the new Archbishop of Valencia.
 
Known for his liturgical principles, Cardinal Canizares, 69, has long been rumored to be willing to return to Spain.
 
He was considered eligible for two “top positions”: that of Madrid and that of Barcelona.

Canizares would have been a difficult choice for the archbishop of Barcelona, being without Catalan origins. Madrid would have appeared to be the destination for the prefect who wished to return to Spain.
 
The Spanish bishops’ conference has already started the process of renewal. During its plenary assembly held Nov. 18-22 last year, the Spanish bishops’ conference had named its new board. Monsignor Antonio Gil y Tamayo, who served as Holy See Press Office assistant during the 2013 sede vacante period, was elected general secretary and spokesperson of the conference.
 
The Spanish bishops gathered for another plenary assembly March 11-14 and elected a new president of the conference: Archbishop Ricardo Blazquez Perez of Valladolid.
 
In that same assembly, Carlos Osoro Sierra, then-Archbishop of Valencia, was elected deputy president of the conference.
 
It was the moment when the star of Archbishop Osoro rose.
 
Ordained a priest in 1973, Osoro became Bishop of Orenese in 1997, Archbishop of Oviedo in 2002 and Archbishop of Valencia in 2009. He is now 69 years old.
 
Known for preaching about a “Church that goes out,” the archbishop is not considered a progressive. He is considered very orthodox in faith. According to a Spanish source, he will give the Archdiocese of Madrid his human touch, yet preserve the orthodoxy of its teaching.
 
In a letter sent to the Archdiocese of Madrid after his appointment was disclosed, Archbishop Osoro addressed priests, members of religious congregations, the laity and young people of his new diocese. He said he asks “the Lord to make me be at your side, according to His will that goes very much beyond any human will.”

Archbishop Osoro and Msgr. Gil y Tamayo are considered very close, and together they are called to head the renewal of the ranks of the Spanish bishops.
 
According to the Spanish daily Religion Digital, this new cycle replaces a course which has lasted for 24 years, during which Cardinal Rouco Varela of Madrid acted as a true “Spanish deputy Pope” under both Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI. Cardinal Varela had earlier advocated as his successor his auxiliary Bishop Fidel Herraéz.

One difficulty that could have arisen if Cardinal Canizares had been appointed Archbishop of Madrid is the fact that he holds no post in the Spanish Bishops Conference.
 
The Spanish bishops also felt the risk of a new “Rouco Varela case” in which one archbishop could head an influential archdiocese for many years, explained a source from within the Spanish Bishops’ Conference who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Cardinal Canizares is 69 and had already worked in the Roman Curia. If he had been appointed in Madrid, he would have remained in that post at least until his retirement at 75, thus creating a new eventual center of power,” the source told CNA Aug. 28.
 
This is the reason that the Spanish bishops promoted the new course, backing the appointment of Archbishop Osoro to Madrid.
 
The new vacancy at the Archdiocese of Valencia allows Cardinal Canizares to return to his home diocese. He hails from Utiel, a small town in Valencia province.
 
The cardinal’s successor as prefect of Divine Worship has not been announced, which means that Pope Francis has not made the decision yet.
 
It is possible that the appointment of the new prefect will not be made soon.
 
The Congregation for the Divine Worship is one of the Vatican dicasteries that could be included in the streamlining of the Roman Curia that is now under discussion.
 
One proposal is to make a combined congregation from the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Congregation for the Causes of Saints. That the proposal is being processed is indicated by the fact that Cardinal Angelo Amato, prefect of the Congregation for the Causes of Saints, has been only confirmed “ad interim” by Pope Francis, yet he has passed the age of retirement and his successor has not yet been appointed.
 
Cardinal Canizares’ successor at the Congregation for Divine Worship could be disclosed after the coming meeting of the council of cardinals advising Pope Francis. That meeting is scheduled for Sep. 15-17.

 

http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/choice-of-new-madrid-archbishop-marks-new-course-for-spains-bishops-38481/

Sheriff: Texas minister charged in assault

Sheriff: Texas minister charged in assault

 

16-year-old girl.

The Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office says 25-year-old Isahiah Arellano was arrested and charged with three counts of sexual assault this week. Authorities say Arellano was a youth minister with the Faith Impact Fellowship in Bastrop County. They say a family member caught him having sex with the teen at a friend’s house in April.

 

Arellano tells authorities he only had sex with the teen once. She tells them it happened three times.

Authorities are working with the church pastor. No other cases have been reported.

The teen’s relatives tell KXAN-TV that they stopped attending the church. The pastor says Arellano was fired.

It wasn’t immediately clear if he has an attorney.

 

http://www.dailytribune.net/news/state/sheriff-texas-minister-charged-in-assault/article_967d04bd-351e-53d1-8fab-69e5e2fc38cf.html

 

Bastrop youth minister accused of having sex with girl, 16

Bastrop youth minister accused of having sex with girl, 16

 

A Bastrop youth minister has been charged with three counts of sexual assault of a child after he was caught having sex with a 16-year-old girl, according to the Bastrop County Sheriff’s Office.

Isahiah Arellano, 25, was a youth minister with Faith Impact Fellowship in Bastrop County. Arellano had been staying with a family who had taken him in because he said he did not have any place to stay. One of the family members caught him having sex with the girl on April 29, the sheriff’s office said.

Arellano admitted to having sex with the girl and said it was their only sexual encounter. However, the girl said they had engaged in sexual intercourse three times in April, the sheriff’s office said.

Investigators reached out to the pastor of Faith Impact Fellowship and found no other outcries from parishioners who could be victims, the sheriff’s office said.

 

 

http://www.statesman.com/news/news/local/bastrop-youth-minister-accused-of-having-sex-with-/nhBkb/