Long Island Abuse Victims Face Dec. 21 Deadline For Compensation

Long Island Abuse Victims Face Dec. 21 Deadline For Compensation

National Catholic Reporter Article by Peter Feuerherd

Recounting the trail of sex abuse crimes that ended with Fr. Romano Ferraro in a Massachusetts prison serving a life sentence, representatives from the Minnesota-based Jeff Anderson & Associates law firm came to Long Island, New York, with a warning for victims delivered at a Nov. 15 press conference at the Marriott Hotel in Uniondale. Those abused by Ferraro , they said, need to put in a claim for compensation by Dec. 21 to the Diocese of Brooklyn, New York, which ordained Ferraro in 1968. Court documents show that Ferraro served not only in the Brooklyn Diocese but also in the Rockville Centre Diocese on Long Island. Records released at the press conference indicate that Ferraro also worked as a priest in New Jersey and Missouri, as well as in Florida and the Philippines, two places where he served as a naval chaplain.

Over the past year, the New York Archdiocese and the Dioceses of Brooklyn and Rockville Centre have established programs to compensate victims of clergy sex abuse, most of whom are unable to press criminal or civil cases because of the state’s statute of limitations. The funds are administered by independent arbitrator Kenneth Feinberg. The three dioceses established different deadlines for victims seeking compensation, creating confusion in cases involving priests who victimized children in a diocese where they were not ordained, said Anderson attorney Mike Reck. Camille Biros, co-administrator of the three diocesan compensation programs, told the National Catholic Reporter that any confusion arising over a deadline involving a priest who worked in a diocese different from where they were ordained would not be used to penalize victims seeking redress. “We would absolutely accept that claim,” she said.

Carolyn Erstad, spokesperson for the Brooklyn Diocese, said the diocese wants to encourage applications to its program. “In no way are we trying to make it difficult for survivors to apply,” she said, noting the diocese has run ads promoting the program on social media, in the Brooklyn Tablet diocesan newspaper and the New York Daily News. Earlier this month, the Brooklyn Diocese announced on its website that Ferraro was among 13 priests from the diocese who were laicized because of sex abuse issues. Neither the Brooklyn Diocese nor the Rockville Centre Diocese has reached out to Ferraro’s victims, said Reck, whose firm represents a victim from Long Island. A statement from the Rockville Centre Diocese disputed that claim. That statement said that Ferraro was never officially assigned in the diocese but did celebrate Mass at St. Joseph’s Church in Kings Park from 1974 to 1977. It added that the diocese informed the parish community of Ferraro’s conviction in Massachusetts in 2004.

Ferraro experienced what church leadership circles described as a “geographic solution” to problems posed by sex abusers, said Patrick Wall, a consultant to the Anderson firm and a former Benedictine priest and canon lawyer. As was common practice in the 1970s and beyond, Ferraro was allowed to work in other dioceses even after his offenses became known. “They kept moving him around,” said Wall. Reck said Long Island was a “dumping ground” for abusive priests from outside the Rockville Centre Diocese, besides crimes committed by those ordained for the dioces e, which covers Nassau and Suffolk counties. According to Wall, 66 priests who worked in the Rockville Centre Diocese have been credibly accused of sex abuse.

At the press conference, the Anderson firm distributed copies of a 1977 memo written by then-Brooklyn chancery official Msgr. Anthony Bevilacqua, later the cardinal archbishop of Philadelphia, who died in 2012. In the memo, Ferraro was said to have admitted to sexual abuse with teenage boys on at least three occasions. The memo also said Ferraro was dismissed from the Navy after an incident with a minor boy. Bevilacqua recommended that the priest be temporarily relieved of his duties and be treated by a psychiatrist. Still, Ferraro later served in parishes in Brooklyn, Queens and Suffolk County, New York, and assisted in parishes in the St. Louis Archdiocese while receiving treatment at the House of Affirmation there in the early 1980s. He also worked in parishes in New Jersey until he was convicted in Massachusetts of sex abuse in 2004.

COMMENT BY BRIAN MARK HENNESSY
OF THE COMBONI SURVIVOR GROUP

I have been commentating for years on the subject of the sexual abuse of children by clerics, and I have never ceased to be shocked at the level of abuse in Diocese after Diocese and Religious Order after Religious Order. Is something fundamentally wrong, perhaps, with the notion of a celibate priesthood? It cannot be so – because abuse is also common in many human conditions other than the state of the Christian “priesthood”. It exists also amongst the “Holy Men” of most other denominations and creeds. Yet – it is not found only within the confines of religion either.

We have to be clear also and truthful to ourselves. Abuse is not just a problem related to religion, but it is a problem to be found in all institutions and environments – whether at home, scholastic, workplace related, sport or social. It is a problem not confined to men – but it is committed mostly by men. The world must find the answers to this dark, predatory trait within the human species where the physical strength, psychological power and opportunity of a malevolent few can blight the lives of weaker and vulnerable adults, women, adolescents of both sexes – and the most defenceless and assailable amongst us – tender, helpless and uncomprehending children.

Advertisements

PRIESTS AT AMPLEFORTH PHYSICALLY AND SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS SIX – by Rose Gamble

PRIESTS AT AMPLEFORTH PHYSICALLY AND

SEXUALLY ABUSED CHILDREN AS YOUNG AS SIX

 

A News Article dated, 30 November 2017, by Rose Gamble

 

‘I think it’s very sad that something like this could have happened, because there was so much focus on bureaucracy that the real issues were missed’

Priests at Ampleforth College physically and sexually abused children as young as six, the national inquiry into child abuse has heard.

On the third day of a three-week hearing on the English Benedictine Congregation as part of the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA), former pupils at the fee-paying Catholic school and its junior school in North Yorkshire gave evidence, and written statements by other former pupils were read. Allegations were made against a priest referred to as RCF4 but most focused on Father Piers Grant-Ferris who was jailed for two years in 2006 for 20 counts of indecent assault on boys in his care.

One witness, who attended Ampleforth between 1965 and 1967, said he believed that Basil Hume, who was abbot of Ampleforth Abbey for 13 years until appointed archbishop of Westminster in 1976, had been aware of abuse at the schools. “I have no doubt he knew exactly what was going on at the time,” the witness told the inquiry. The witness described Fr Grant Ferris as “a nasty, cruel, physically violent man.”

From the age of seven, the witness said he was physically and psychologically abused by the priest. He said punishments became progressively more severe. The witness said he was beaten in “bizarre rituals” including being stripped naked and beaten in the confessional of the chapel. The witness said the experiences had left him with post-traumatic stress disorder, complex depression and severe anxiety.

Another witness, who attended Ampleforth’s junior school Gilling Castle from the age of six, described how a teacher would swim with them naked.  “We were all in our trunks and he swam with us naked, which, again, I think is not correct,” he told the inquiry.  The same teacher once put his hand down the boy’s trousers “to check my breathing” during a choir audition.

The inquiry also heard from a female former pupil at Ampleforth College, who left the school in 2010. She said that a music teacher, Dara De-Cogan, had sexually abused her over a period of years, beginning when she was 14 years old.  De-Cogan was jailed for 28 months earlier this year pleading guilty to 10 charges of engaging in sexual activity while in a position of trust.

The witness said his abuse resulted in her self-harming.  When questioned by Riel Karmy-Jones QC, counsel to the inquiry, on Ampleforth’s approach to child protection the witness said it was “very poor”.  She described the focus as almost entirely on box ticking, filling out forms and getting the paperwork done, “the bureaucracy”. “Therefore, everything on the surface looked fine if everything was written down and properly presented. But it meant that nobody ever looked beneath the surface,” the inquiry was told. “I think it’s very sad that something like this could have happened, because there was so much focus on bureaucracy the real issues were really missed and they shouldn’t have been missed so easily,” she added.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) was set up in 2015 to investigate whether public bodies and other non-state institutions in England and Wales “have taken seriously their responsibility to protect children from sexual abuse”. On the first day of the hearing, Matthias Kelly QC, made a statement on behalf of Ampleforth expressing regret for past abuses. “We wish to apologise for the hurt, distress and damage done to those who suffered abuse when in our care. We will do everything we can to ensure that there is no repetition,” he told the inquiry. The Inquiry chose the English Benedictine Congregation as one of the Catholic Church’s case studies; its first public hearing in this phase is scheduled to run to 15 December when witnesses and core participants will provide evidence and face questioning.

(There is a “live stream” of the proceeding on the IICSA internet site for those who wish to watch the proceedings).

 

The Children Of Priests Step Out Of The Shadows – By Michael Rezendes – with comment by Brian Mark Hennessy

The Children Of Priests Step Out Of The Shadows

By Michael Rezendes GLOBE STAFF  SEPTEMBER 30, 2017

Mary “Mimi” Bull was happily married and the mother of three children when she found out that her biological father was a Catholic priest she had known growing up in Norwood in the 1940s. She had always believed that she was adopted and that the priest who often visited was just a family friend. But it wasn’t until last month, at age 80, that Bull finally spoke to someone with a life story like her own. He is an Irish activist who learned as an adult that his godfather, a local priest, was really his biological dad. Bull talked on the phone for an hour with Vincent Doyle, the first time she had ever spoken with another priest’s child. “It was huge,” Bull told the Globe.

Many children of priests grow up thinking they are alone in their situation, in their confusion, anger, or sorrow. But they are now discovering how much company they have, and some are coming forward in the aftermath of a Globe Spotlight series in August on a painful, little-discussed issue in the Catholic Church: the fate of children born to priests who break their promise to live without marriage or sex. Many grow up without the love and support of their fathers, and are often pressured to keep the relationship a secret. Others, like Bull, don’t even know who their biological father is until adulthood, if ever. A Globe review finds the children are often denied love and support and pressured to keep the scandal secret. And the church has done little to help. “We are clearly crawling out of the dark places of the church,” said Bull, who contacted Doyle, founder of a support group for children of priests, through the Globe.

The Globe so far has identified 19 people with connections to the Boston area who have strong evidence that they are the children of priests. Some have birth certificates or other documentation to support their assertions, while others have corroborating witnesses; in all cases, their fathers are deceased. Their life experiences are as varied as their backgrounds, ranging from successful, well-adjusted people like Bull, who admires her parents’ extraordinary effort to keep her biological father in her life, to those who have spent years suffering from emotional and financial neglect. But virtually all of them share one thing: a feeling that their stories have been kept in the shadows too long.

The growing number of people now identifying as children of priests has drawn a mixed reaction from the church so far, ranging from relative silence in Boston to indications that some church leaders may for the first time provide official guidance on a priest’s responsibility to his children. Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley has said little about the issue, even though he is a close adviser to Pope Francis and head of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which is preparing to advise the Pope on how to prevent clergy sexual abuse. He declined requests for an interview. O’Malley has acknowledged that some priests do have children, citing in his blog the popular 1970s novel and 1980s mini-series, “The Thorn Birds,” about a young woman in Australia who falls in love with a priest. O’Malley concludes his blog post by saying that the offspring of priests are “a serious problem, but in my experience as a priest and as a bishop, the instance of when a priest has fathered a child has not been very frequent.” But the number of people with ties to the Boston area who claim to be the children of priests suggests the phenomenon may not be all that rare. Greater Boston represents only a tiny fraction of the world’s Catholics, suggesting that the total number of priests’ offspring worldwide could number in the thousands.

In the larger Catholic world, there are signs of a new willingness to address the needs of children of priests, a problem that has quietly dogged the church since leaders forbade priests to marry or have children nearly 900 years ago. Last month, two members of the commission O’Malley leads said the group has decided to tackle the issue, creating a working group to develop guidelines to ensure that children born to priests are adequately cared for. “It’s a horrendous problem in many cultures, and it’s not something that is readily talked about,” commission member Krysten Winter-Green told the Associated Press. A spokesman for the Vatican said he could not confirm Winter-Green’s contention that the commission is looking at the children of priests. But two other well-established Catholic groups, which together represent the supervisors of as many as half of the world’s 400,000 priests, are taking concrete action to address the issue.

The Conference of Major Superiors of Men, a research and advisory body for the supervisors of 11,500 religious order priests in the United States — just under a third of the total — has begun ratifying a set of principles for priests who father children, a process that could be completed as soon as January. The principles, recently approved by bishops in Ireland, call for any priest who fathers a child to take “personal, legal, moral and financial responsibility” for his offspring, and to include the child’s mother in all decisions about the child’s welfare. “The fact that you have the Irish Catholic Bishops’ Conference approving a policy should speed this along fairly quickly,” said Rev. Gerard McGlone, the organization’s associate director for the protection of minors. “Most of the religious superiors I’ve spoken with say, ‘Yeah, this seems logical and absolutely reasonable to look at.’”

In Rome, the worldwide umbrella group for the leaders of religious order priests has already e-mailed the Irish principles to some 220 members throughout the world. The Rev. David Glenday, secretary general of the Union of Superiors General and a Comboni Missionary priest, said the organization’s executive committee signed off on the principles earlier this year after they were brought to their attention by Doyle, founder of the support group known as Coping International. The committee “found them very useful and very helpful,” Glenday said. He cautioned, however, that only the Vatican can require bishops and the supervisors of religious order priests to follow protocols for dealing with priests who father children. Several of those who recently contacted the Globe, saying they were children of priests, said they tried for years to draw attention to the issue, but with little success.

Vincent Begley, the half-brother of a Needham man with whom he shares the same biological mother but a different priest-father, even published a 1989 book recounting their story, only to have it land on what he jokingly calls the “least seller” list. “That was more than 20 years ago and all I heard was crickets,” he said. Begley, who lives in New York, and his half-brother, Thomas Harkins, were both put up for adoption and both say they’re grateful for their adoptive families. If anyone was victimized by the failure of their fathers to live up to their promise to lead celibate lives, it was their mother. Begley said their mother met the Rev. Maurice Leo Sullivan in St. Helena’s parish, in the Bronx, the beginning of a relationship that led to Harkins’s birth in 1945. Three years later, after seeking counseling from a second priest, the Rev. James Kevin Hargrove, the pair started a relationship and she gave birth to his child, Begley.

The story of Adrian Senna and Carla Latty, who grew up separately and later discovered they are very likely the offspring of an African-American woman and a white priest from Foxborough, also failed to draw lasting attention, even though it was the subject of a 2009 lawsuit that was covered by the news media. In their lawsuit, the siblings said their father’s religious order, the St. Joseph Society of the Sacred Heart in Baltimore, knew that the Rev. Francis E. Ryan had fathered them, but he never intervened or took responsibility for their well-being. They said Ryan had a long-running affair with their mother, Anna Maria Franklin Senna, beginning in the Deep South and continuing in Boston.

Adrian Senna said he did not believe Ryan was his father when a fellow teenager suggested as much when Ryan visited his mother in the predominantly black Whittier Street public housing development. “One of the guys asked me, ‘Is that your dad?’ And I said, ‘No, he’s just a friend. He’s a priest,’ ” Senna recalled. “Then it struck me years later that this kid could see things a lot better than I did.” But Senna and Latty lost their suit in part because of constitutional protections for religion, according to Carmen Durso, an attorney for the siblings. The church has the right to demand that priests live without marriage or sex, but cannot be held liable when priests fail to meet that requirement. “The courts can’t get involved in resolving a religious dispute,” Durso said. “But when you think about what happened to them — finding out your racial background isn’t what you thought it was, and then finding that your father was a priest — it’s really shocking.”

Mimi Bull said she spent years trying to find someone outside her family who would believe her story or at least listen to her, but to no avail. She said she contacted former priests who she believed would be sympathetic, but never received a meaningful response. In 2002, after the Spotlight Team revealed the pervasive cover-up of clergy sexual abuse, she telephoned the Boston Archdiocese to ask if there was a support group for the children of priests that she could join. “I called the Chancery and of course I got one of these very prim ladies,” Bull recalled. “I said I’m interested to know if you have a support group for the children of priests, and I got dead silence. It was worth the whole phone call.” Bull believes the children of priests have remained isolated because Catholics have been so deferential to priests, particularly in the Boston area when she was growing up, during the 1930s and 1940s. Today, Bull believes Catholics are ready to accept the fact that some priests — perhaps many — do not keep their promise to live without sex. She also says she hopes that more children of priests will break their silence and no longer help the church keep their existence a secret. “Whatever the church does, it cannot hide all us children in a dark chamber as it did along with its other secrets,” she said.

Comment by Brian Mark Hennessy

As a survivor of Sexual Abuse by a Priest – and a friend of many other survivors of clerical sexual abuse perpetrated by Comboni Missionary priests at their Mirfield seminary in Yorkshire, England, I recognize that these children of priests are as much victims of clerical abuse as those of us who were sexually abused. The psychological harm that the Catholic Church has done to such children throughout the ages is as incalculable as it is inhumane and outrageous. The Comboni Survivors feel their pain deeply – and thank God – that at last the Catholic Church has acknowledged the cruelty heaped upon these children. It is somehow ironic, however, that it is David Kinnear Glenday, a Comboni Priest at the USG who has consistently denied the sexual abuse perpetrated against his boyhood friends at the Mirfield seminary, who is now tasked with correcting the perversion of this cruel, travesty of human decency and justice.

 

THE DEAFNESS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS – THE SHOCKING TALE OF THE BEHAVIOUR OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH – By Brian Mark Hennessy

THE DEAFNESS BEHIND CLOSED DOORS

THE SHOCKING TALE OF THE BEHAVIOUR OF RELIGIOUS ORDERS

IN THE CATHOLIC CHURCH

BY BRIAN MARK HENNESSY

Arthur David Molesworth is a highly qualified professional with years of experience in all matters related to the protection of children from sexual abuse. It fell to him to take on issues of child protection at the Benedictine Monastic School at Ampleforth Abbey. When he took over that task there was an immediate issue requiring action that was already 16 months old. Ampleforth had arranged for a survivor of clerical abuse at their Abbey school to be visited by Father Dominic, who was a previous head teacher – and Moulesworth stated clearly that he shouldn’t interfere because it could be seen as tampering with a witness. He told the Abbey, in no uncertain terms, “If you were a safe organisation, you would not allow him to do this”. His advice was ignored and it would not be the first time.

 

In his evidence to the United Kingdom’s Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, Arthur Molesworth’s testimony revealed that he was told by the Abbey, “An abbot’s first task, before all else, is the care of his monks.” Moulsworth stated that he did not have a problem with him caring for his monks, but not if it is in front of protecting children. In a sense, he stated “what we were trying to deal with was the power of the abbot, the duty of obedience to the abbot, the abbot’s will”. He continued, “Stepping further back, I find myself questioning whether the community has either the mechanisms, the understanding or even a basic willingness  to properly deal with child protection matters. I felt at that stage, you know, we have got to start shifting this”.

 

“This wasn’t as if it was an isolated experience with Ampleforth”, he said, “it was what had happened the year before. We are obviously talking about major concerns being expressed about the Catholic Church nationally, and we then had this extraordinary reaction. You know, it led me to write: ‘Child abuse is able to thrive in organisations where there is secrecy.’ I was being blocked, we were being blocked, I use rather pompous words: ‘Obfuscation, denial or downright obstruction’. If you are going to work with us, you work with us; anything less than that, it means you are blocking. I have to say, I think their lawyer was a part of this, talking about ‘Monks have rights, we need to protect them’. “That’s fine, but let’s protect the children first”, responded Moulsworth.

 

Prior to giving his evidence, Arthur Molesworth was confronted with correspondence written in 2006 by Abbot Cuthbert Madden. Moulsworth said, “I have to say, early this week, I read documents in the Ampleforth dossier written at the same time as a ‘getting to know you’ meeting which shocked me, because what was being said about social services was toxic. It was in stark contrast to their statement, ‘We are wanting to work with you’. Behind the scenes, it was something very different. My role was to provide external challenge on safeguarding matters, and I think they wanted people like me to go away, not keep on coming back and asking the hard questions”.

 

At one point in his testimony, Arthur Molesworth, detailed how the Abbey was in a rush to get their ‘own version’ of events at Ampleforth out to the press, whilst Moulsworth was trying to manage a number of issues that a press statement might inhibit and he asked them to hold fire. Moulsworth wanted a joint statement which involved co-ordination with the Police and Social Services. Nevertheless, the Abbey went ahead and in a telephone conversation with Arthur Moulsworth, a representative of the Abbey stated “Actually, I’m not concerned about you. You need to understand you’re dealing with a machine. The Catholic Church is well-organised, well-oiled, it is them who are doing this”. I was quite struck by the way he was telling me not to cross with him, just saying, “You need to understand what you are dealing with”.

 

Arthur Molesworth also discovered that whilst the social services and the police were talking with Ampleforth about significant safeguarding matters and risks to children, the Abbey had some other risk assessments that they had not divulged to the local authorities. Instead they had formed their own views on the risks and had, effectively, tampered, in one case, with a witness. This activity had excluded the police and delayed investigations – and eventually the complainant had stopped the case going any further – despite the strength and anger he had expressed previously to Moulsworth, who subsequently became convinced that the Abbey had talked him out of proceeding any further. In his view, Arthur Moulsworth also stated that in one case there were four abbots who had known about the behavior of one priest but those Abbots just “didn’t get safeguarding; they didn’t get child protection”.

 

As I write about this testimony of Arthur Moulsworth to the United Kingdom’s Inquiry Into Child Sexual Abuse – and having been born a Catholic and my dear parents having been devoted to Catholicism – I am dismayed and ashamed beyond belief. I visited Benedictine Abbeys with my parents when I was a teenager and I was in awe of the monks. I became a member of a Religious Order myself and took my first vows whilst at the Novitiate of the Comboni Missionary Religious Institute at Sunningdale in Berkshire, England. By then, however, I had already been abused for a period of two weeks at their seminary by one of their priests who had locked the infirmary door behind him twice a day whilst he proceeded to carry out “essential medical inspections to see if everything was working properly”. I did not then even know the word for what he did to me, but now I know it is called “masturbation”. It had taken place following my recent visit to hospital where I had undergone intrusive investgations.

 

I eventually left the Order after my further confusion, as a novice, of having to witness secret meetings between a Comboni Missionary priest and a nun of the adjacent Convent. I had to sit in a room with them whilst they held hands, played “footsie” under the table and expressed their love for each other. At the time that I left, I was unaware that long before there had been allegations throughout the period between 1958 to1967against the priest who had abused me at Mirfield when I was a seminarian. Some 10 reports to superiors of the seminary had been made between1966 to 1968 that I now know of, but they were not acted upon until 1969 – when he was moved, ultimately, to a parish in Italy. There he would have had access to more children. They told me many years later that this priest was dead – when they knew very well that he was not.

 

Another priest abused multiple seminarians at the same seminary that I had attended and was reported to priests of that Order on eight known occasions between 1965 and 1968. Again he was not moved until 1969. He was posted to Uganda where he was put in charge of the Boy Scouts.

A third priest was abusing boys at that seminary for a relatively short period in 1970. After he was discovered and reported, he was also sent to Uganda to work in a Parish – where, obviously, he had access to more children. He remained there for 27 years until, in 1997, he was recalled to Italy to answer allegations – which he then admitted. One of his Victims eventually, in adulthood, visited this priest in the Comboni Missionary Order’s Mother House at Verona in Italy to seek an understanding from this priest as to why the priest had abused him as a very young teenager. The Victim also hoped that by such understanding and by forgiving this priest, he would find peace to his lifelong torments. He did meet the priest who did apologise for the harm done – and the Victim forgave the priest.

 

It was at that point that the Vice Superior of the Mother House appeared. He called a solicitor, threatened the Victim with calling the Police – and as the Victim left – the Vice Superior shouted after him that all the Victims of the priests of the Comboni Missionary Religious Institute were “money-grabbers”. The Comboni Religious Institute, soon after, laid charges against this Victim of trespassing, stalking and interfering in the life of the Priest who had abused him when that Victim was a child. The Judge of the Criminal Court of Verona threw the charges out as unsubstantiated. The Order, in an act of callous vindictiveness, appealed to the Court. The Judge of the Appeal Court threw out the Appeal as false on the basis that the original charges had already been determined to have had no justification. The Comboni Missionary Religious Institute made no offer to the Victim to pay the very high costs of his defence at the Verona Criminal Court. Such an addition of insult to injury is what other Victims of clerics of that Order have come to expect – but the list is too long to repeat here.

 

The Comboni Missionary Religious Institute in the 21st Century pays lip service, but has complied with the spirit of none of the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of the Child. They have not complied with the Catholic Church’s own Canon Law which requires that all acts against the 6th Commandment are reported to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. They have not complied with any recommendations of the Nolan and Cumberlege Reports in dealing with the numerous historical allegations of child sexual abuse reported to them. They refused to listen to the former Chair of the Catholic Safeguarding Commission when he tried to counsel them on a number of occasions to adopt the measures of the Catholic Hierarchies document, “Safeguarding with Confidence”. They did not, at the time of the original abuse and, nor have they subsequently, made any reports to the Civil Authorities of the United Kingdom. They have not even followed the measures concerning clerical child abuse that are written in their own Code of Conduct.  That is unsurprising to me having read that Code, for the emphasis of the Code was to avoid “Scandal” – a word which appears in that Code on 19 occasions. When dealing with the matters relating to crimes of child sexual abuse within that Code of Conduct – the words “sin” is used. Stealing sweets is a “sin” – stealing the innocence of a child is a heinous, inhumane and depraved “crime”.

 

What the Comboni Missionary Order have done subsequently is refused to meet the Victims abused by their clerics, they have issued press reports suggesting that the events took place so long ago that the truth cannot now been determined. In doing so they seek to suggest that the many victims of sexual abuse committed by their clerics are false. For my part, and I know that others who were abused would say the same, I can say to them that the abuse inflicted upon me is not a figment of my imagination – and I know that because it happened to me – and I have not forgotten the details of that abuse – and nor will I forget.

 

The perennial wall of unconscionable silence constructed by both the Benedictine Order and the Comboni Missionary Religious Institute to defend their sense of clerical superiority and to protect their establishments from critical oversight will eventually crumble. Indeed, those walls of Catholicism are crumbling around them already. The Orders of the Catholic Church will have a natural, embedded and instinctive reluctance to believe me, of course, but perhaps, instead, they will at least wish to pause for a moment. In doing so, they should look at their contribution to the enormous confusion in the Catholic Church today and the role that they have played in the alienisation of historic Catholic lay communities. Those diminishing communities’ natural distrust of clerics today has been caused by what the Catholic Church itself has done in the name of Catholicism. For their meditation I suggest that they dwell upon those few prophetic words uttered by Pope Benedict XVI, many years before he ascended the Throne of St Peter, as he envisioned the Catholic Church of the future:

 

“It will be a restructured Church – with far fewer members – that is forced to let go of many places of worship it worked so hard to build over the centuries. It will be a minority Catholic Church with little influence over political decisions, that is socially irrelevant, left humiliated and forced to “start over.” But a Church that will find itself again and be reborn a “simpler and more spiritual” entity – thanks to this “enormous confusion.””

 

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Suit Alleging It Helped A Serial Sex Abuser Get A Public School Job – by Dan Morris-Young – with a question from Brian Mark Hennessy

Seattle Archdiocese Settles Suit Alleging It Helped A Serial Sex Abuser Get A Public School Job

 

by  Dan Morris-Young – National Catholic Reporter – 29 September 2017

 

The Seattle Archdiocese has agreed to pay $1.3 million to settle a sex-abuse lawsuit that charged that church authorities had not only neglected to report a known abuser to authorities, but helped him secure employment in the public school system. In a release on the website of the Seattle-based law firm Pfau Cochran Vertetis Amala, attorney Jason P. Amala stated: “Our law firm has represented hundreds of abuse survivors, but I cannot think of another case where the defendant removed a known abuser from their private school system and then actively helped him get a job in the public school system.” Listed as “M.R.” in court documents, the plaintiff was a student at now-closed Parkland Elementary School in the Franklin Pierce School District headquartered in Tacoma. He was abused as a sixth-grader there during the 1981-82 school year by Edward Courtney, a former Christian Brother of Ireland, it was stated in a brief August 29th archdiocesan media release. According to the release, “the bankrupt Christian Brothers” were also named in the suit.

Courtney has a well-documented history of sexually abusing children, and his name was among 77 priests, brothers, deacons and a nun named in January 2016 by the Seattle Archdiocese as having been credibly accused of child sex abuse. While the settlement closes the suit by “M.R.” filed in 2015, a second suit by a former Parkland Elementary student was filed in 2016 alleging abuse by Courtney during the same period as M.R. That proceeding is ongoing, according to the law firm and other news reports. According to a February, 2016 Los Angeles Times story, Courtney, who would now be 82, “sold his Seattle-area home in 2013 and signed a sales document notarized in Honolulu. His phone number and address are listed in the Honolulu phone book.” “According to court records,” the Times reported, “the Catholic schoolteacher was a cross-country serial molester, accused of abusing at least 50 children and teens from New York to Chicago and Seattle over three decades.”

While admitting “no direct knowledge of the allegations in these lawsuits,” a Sept. 28 statement by the Seattle-area leader of the Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said the organization applauded “the two victims who filed suits for pursuing these claims” and underscored the importance of mandatory reporters. “Mandatory reporters are on the front lines of defending children, and when they fail to do their job, they should be held accountable to civil and criminal law,” stated SNAP’s Mary Dispenza. In the Seattle archdiocesan statement, Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said he hopes the settlement will bring closure and assist the survivor in his healing process. “The safety of children and all vulnerable populations in our care is our highest priority,” Sartain is quoted as saying.

Query by Brian Mark Hennessy of the Comboni Survivors Group:

How can Archbishop Sartain find the gall to say that “The safety of children and all vulnerable populations in our care is our highest priority,” – when his Archdiocese found a new appointment for this known serial sex offender at a school? It beggars belief!

Up to 40 Monks and Teachers Accused of Sexually Abusing Children at English Catholic Boarding School — A review of Reports in the News, 1 December 2017

Up to 40 Monks and Teachers Accused of Sexually Abusing Children at English Catholic Boarding School

A review of Reports in the News 1 December 2017

View photos

Children at a Roman Catholic church school in England are “still at risk”, with claims that up to 40 monks and teachers have sexually abused pupils. Since 1996 three monks and two lay teachers at Ampleforth have been convicted of sex offences against pupils, but Ms Karmy-Jones said that the inquiry had been notified of multiple allegations.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is examining the prevalence of paedophilia in the English Benedictine Congregation and failures in protecting young people. But although numerous inquiries have exposed the problem of child abuse within church institutions and a string of offenders convicted, lingering safety concerns could remain, it was heard. The inquiry is focusing on offenders that targeted children at two Roman Catholic schools, Ampleforth in North Yorkshire and Downside in Somerset, over the course of many decades.

Counsel to the inquiry Riel Karmy-Jones told a hearing at IICSA’s headquarters in south London: “It may be that during the course of evidence and the submissions to come (that) there is some acceptance of failings, but reliance will be placed on changes that have been made over the years. “But, as you will hear, concerns remain and you are likely to hear evidence that suggests safeguarding problems are still ongoing, in some instances, and with the inevitable result that children may remain at risk.”

The Roman Catholic Church is one of 13 arms of public life being scrutinised for child safety failings by IICSA. Turning a blind eye to paedophilia should be made a criminal offence so Church institutions are discouraged from hushing up scandals, a victims’ lawyer said. Richard Scorer, who represents 27 core participants to the inquiry, said some Catholic Church schools concealed offending out of concerns for their reputation. Many rely on private school fees to survive and cannot risk exposing misconduct, turning schools into “honeypots where multiple offenders operate”, he said. “The reputational pressures, the cultural and theological factors which led to abuse being covered up in Catholic institutions have not gone away,” he told the hearing.

Previous inquiries into Catholic Church schools such as Ampleforth have revealed behaviour ranging from rape to voyeuristic beatings over many years, and resulted in convictions. Predators include teacher David Lowe, jailed in 2015 for 10 years for 15 indecent assaults on boys under Lowe’s offences were traced back to the 1980s at Westminster Cathedral School and Ampleforth.

Matthias Kelly, representing Ampleforth, offered a “sincere and heartfelt apology to anyone who has suffered abuse whilst in our care”. He added: “All students, past and present and future, are entitled to expect that they will be safe and cared for by us – I am deeply sorry that this was not always the case. “We wish to apologise for the hurt, injury, distress and damage done to those who were abused as a result of our failings.” He said the school would “strive with every fibre of our beings to alleviate the damage done “and, he said, “ensure that we do everything we can to ensure there is no repetition”. Kate Gallafen, representing the English Benedictine Congregation and Downside school, also expressed the remorse of both institutions. She said a review and audit of safeguarding procedures had been commissioned at Downside, which will be carried out by the Social Care Institute for Excellence.

 

The Australian Church Is In Desperate Trouble – By Natasha Marsh

“The Australian Church Is In Desperate Trouble”

Posted Thursday, 30 Nov 2017, by Natasha Marsh – a Freelance Journalist based in Melbourne

In 2017, the Church has Endured an Abuse Crisis, lost a Same-Sex Marriage Vote and Failed to Stop Euthanasia. Can it recover?This Sunday marks Advent, the beginning of a new year in the Church’s liturgical calendar. That may be a relief for Australian Catholics, who will be glad to say goodbye to 2017 a few weeks early. The year opened on a hard note, with the Royal Commission into Child Sexual Abuse, in its fifth and final year, holding a three-week “wrap-up” session on the Catholic Church in February. The results were shocking and sickening, and were splashed across the news daily. While the vast majority of abuse was historical (between 1950 and 2010) these reports cast a chill on all good-hearted people – Catholic or not.

Many faithful Catholics were further disappointed and disillusioned as entire archdioceses lay paralysed by silence, peeping out from behind media releases and communications offices. Where were the prayer vigils? The novenas? The tears? Church billboards declaring “Not in my name”? While disappointment was one emotion, another was rage. And the mainstream media capitalised on the zeitgeist, openly speculating whether it was Catholicism itself – from celibacy to Confession – that was intrinsically “paedophilic”.

Over the months, the spotlight was slowly directed towards one man – Australia’s highest ranking Catholic, Cardinal George Pell. The Cardinal became the subject of countless articles, parodies and memes. A comedic song, calling him “scum”, gathered 2.5 million views, while a polemical book “Cardinal: the Rise and Fall of George Pell” was published in May. In November, an obscene public mural crept across a pub wall in Sydney depicting the cardinal with former prime minister Tony Abbott. When Cardinal Pell returned to Melbourne from the Vatican to answer charges of historic child sex abuse – charges which he will denounce when the trial begins in March next year – hundreds of journalists camped for hours to report as the 76-year-old presented himself to court.

As June slipped into August, the spotlight shifted from the Catholic Church, and Cardinal Pell in particular, to Christian morality in general. Australia has never been, strictly speaking, a Judaeo-Christian country. It is a country that was built on Enlightenment ideals, but at a time when Enlightenment principles were still benefiting from, and dependent on, a robust Christianity. But the past few months have seen the axe laid to the last tendrils of Christianity in Australia, and a new morality is replacing the old. While the new secular morality is rightfully outraged at the historic abuse of children, it seems less clear on how it feels about the current sexualisation of children.

In September, “The Gender Fairy”, a book which teaches that being a “boy” or a “girl” can be a matter of personal decision, was released. It ends with the claim: “Only you know whether you are a girl or a boy.” The book is promoted by the radical LGBTQI sex education programme, “Safe Schools”. Although the work of “Safe Schools” is marketed as an anti-bullying programme, the federal government announced it would discontinue funding out of concern over some of the material (including online links to other resources full of graphic content). Dismissing these concerns as “homophobic”, the Victoria government pledged $1 million of its own funds, declaring that all state secondary schools would be members of the Safe Schools Coalition by 2018.

November has also been a month for headlines, with the historic announcement that a solid majority of Australians (62 per cent) voted “yes” to proposals to change the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to marry, quickly followed by the Victoria government’s upper house voting to allow euthanasia. In this way, same-sex marriage and euthanasia for Victorians may be legal by Christmas. Out of this changing culture it is clear that there are three groups emerging within the Catholic community. The first group does not realise that there has been any change; the second group seeks to embrace the changing culture; and the third group rejects the new culture.

Statistics suggest that the first group has the largest membership. Of the nearly 5.5 million Australians who put themselves down as Catholic in the 2016 census conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics, fewer than 10 per cent said they attend Mass – and only 10 per cent of that 10 per cent accept all the teachings of the Church. The second, smaller, group is passionate about seeing the Church move “with the times”. Driven by a desire for reform, its members dominate the corridors of the diocesan and archdiocesan offices, Catholic education offices, academic boards and hospital ethics committees. The third group seeks to hold to the truths of the faith and embrace the Cross as a “stumbling block”, and believes that the spirit of the world, as Scripture says, is antithetical to the Holy Spirit. For Catholics of this third kind, the most hostile places are the “edifices built in prosperity”, that is, the hospitals, schools and universities with Catholic names.

The fraught relationship between these groups dominates the experience of Catholics “on the ground”. As Catholic leadership roles are often mastered by people who no longer believe in the power of the Catholic message, this explains many decisions made by the Church this year. It explains how millions can be spent in high schools implementing a dubious “Catholic Identity Project” from Louvain University in Belgium (a country haemorrhaging its Catholic identity at giddying speed), while the John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family, Melbourne, one of the bastions of international-level orthodox Catholic academia, is closed for “financial reasons”. It explains how Bishop Vincent Long of Parramatta could write a letter before the same-sex marriage plebiscite telling Catholics “It should not be a matter of a simple answer Yes or No”, and weeks later be asked to write the 2017-2018 Australian Catholic Bishops’ Social Justice Statement (“Everyone’s Business: Developing an Inclusive and Sustainable Economy”) without a word of reproach. It also explains how a chaplain at one Catholic college could be sacked days after celebrating his first Extraordinary Form Mass on campus, and how a Victorian Catholic palliative care nurse could receive a letter from the office Lady, following the example of Archbishop Julian Porteous of Tasmania. She was told: “Prayer is valuable. Keep it up. Consecrations should not be used as some kind of weapon.”

Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, later Pope Benedict XVI, has often been called prophetic for words spoken nearly 50 years ago in 1969: “What will the future Church look like? From the crisis of today a new Church of tomorrow will emerge – a Church that has lost much. She will become small and will have to start afresh more or less from the beginning.”