Catholic priests in Montreal banned from being alone with children


New policy, which includes church workers and volunteers, intended as ‘safety net’ against allegations of sex abuse, but critics say move is ‘too little, too late’


 The Basilica of Notre-Dame in the Place d’Armes in Old Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

The Basilica of Notre-Dame in the Place d’Armes in Old Montreal in Quebec, Canada.

Catholic priests in Montreal will be banned from being alone with children to provide a “safety net” against allegations of abuse.

Archbishop Christian Lepine has issued a decree to implement the policy, which also covers lay workers and volunteers.

According to the decree, the move was to “ensure the safety and integrity of the people to whom we bring the Gospel message and offer our pastoral care”. But, it added, it was also “to preserve the integrity, security and good reputation of God’s people”.

In an accompanying letter, Lepine said: “Recent events brought to light the horrific reality of abuse of minors and vulnerable people by members of the church. These intolerable situations have shocked and shaken the Universal Church as well as the entire population.”

Pope Francis and his predecessors had issued clear instructions that every Catholic diocese must take necessary measures to prevent the abuse of children and vulnerable adults, the letter said.

Implementation of the policy is to begin with a pilot project involving a dozen parishes from September, and will subsequently be rolled out across the diocese.

The policy would cover anyone “in the orbit of the church” to create a “safety net”, Canon Francois Sarrazin told the Canadian Press.

“Imagine if you are alone in a room and a child accuses you of hitting them, how will you react?” Sarrazin said. “Whether it’s true or not, you need a witness. Not being in the room alone with someone who is vulnerable is simply being prudent.”

But Carlo Tarini, representing survivors of abuse by priests, said the move was “too little, too late”, and the church was trying to protect itself from legal action.

In February, the church agreed a $30m settlement after around 150 people claimed they had been abused by the Clerics of St Viateur, who ran a school for deaf children in Montreal between 1940 and 1982.

The policy was dismissed as “window dressing” by David Clohessy of the US-based Snap (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests).

“The single most effective step would be to publicly disclose and discipline every cleric who committed or concealed child sex crimes. That immediately protects children,” he said.

“We’ve literally seen hundreds of policies, procedures, protocols and pledges like this that sound good on paper but are virtually never enforced. So we are extremely sceptical.”

The new policy is thought to be unprecedented in the Catholic church, although the Anglican church in Australia has had similar guidelines in place since 2004, said Andrew Chesnut, professor of religious studies at Virginia Commonwealth University.

“Abuse victims in many countries have been demanding such a policy, in the case of Canada at least since 2007,” he said.

The new measures “provide safeguards for vulnerable children against the assaults of paedophile priests or other church workers. Given the volume of cases across time and place, it’s quite shocking that such measure[s] haven’t been adopted in all dioceses across the globe, if for no other reason than for the church to preclude future lawsuits which have cost it billions of dollars in Canada and the US alone.

“Despite its tardiness, the new policy in Montreal should be universally adopted, above all for the protection of children at Catholic churches and organisations.”

Globally, the Catholic church has paid tens of millions of dollars in compensation and costs relating to child sex abuse. An investigation by the National Catholic Reporter last year concluded that the US church alone had incurred costs of nearly £4bn.

Two years ago, the Vatican said that 848 priests had been defrocked and more than 2,500 had been sanctioned. But the church has also been accused of systematically covering up crimes committed by priests.

The issue was the subject of a recent Hollywood movie, Spotlight, which chronicled the expose of abuse by Catholic priests by reporters at the Boston Globe.

Complete Article HERE!


Catholic Bishops Back NOM’s Hate March


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops


The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has issued a statement urging Catholics to attend NOM’s anti-LGBT hate march this weekend. They write:


March for Marriage 2016

On June 25, 2016, the day before the one year anniversary of the erroneous and unjust Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, a rally and March for Marriage will be held in Washington, D.C. The event is meant to highlight the importance of the unique meaning of marriage to society and the importance of mothers and fathers for children.Participants will be gathering at the reflecting pool in front of the Capitol building around 11:30 a.m. for the program, and the march to the Supreme Court will begin at 1:00 p.m.Please consider joining the March for Marriage 2016 to witness to the continued importance of authentic marriage!


Maynooth in crisis as president goes on a sabbatical

    By Sarah Mac Donald


    St Patrick’s College Maynooth has denied the sabbatical announced this week by its president, Monsignor Hugh Connolly, is in any way linked to a row over a recent anonymous allegation of inappropriate behaviour by some seminarians.

    A statement published on the college’s website said Msgr Connolly “has advised the staff of the Faculty of Theology of his plans to take sabbatical leave for the academic year 2016-2017”.

    The sabbatical coincides with the last year of his tenure as president of the college and the national seminary, which currently has more than 60 men studying for the priesthood for the Irish Catholic Church.

    The statement said Dr Connolly would remain as president until the completion of his statutory term in the summer of 2017 and he would continue to exercise some duties during the year.

    It also stated the seminary president, who has served nine years in the post, intends to undertake theological studies in preparation for his return to the post of professor of moral theology, a position he held before he was appointed to the role of president of the college.Msgr Hugh Connolly

    As the sabbatical begins in September, the current vice president of the college, Professor Michael Mullaney, will assume the duties of Msgr Connolly.

    However, according to Bishop Pat Buckley, a cleric who is in dispute with the Church: “This sabbatical comes as the Maynooth gay scandal rages.”

    Bishop Buckley asked: “Why not finish the last year of his term and then take the sabbatical at the natural juncture of leaving the presidency and going back to teach?”

    He linked the departure of Msgr Connolly with a recent story in the ‘Irish Catholic’ newspaper, which said a letter outlining allegations of inappropriate behaviour by some seminarians in Maynooth had been sent to the Irish bishops and that St Patrick’s College was investigating the matter.

    In his blog, Bishop Buckley claimed the national seminary in Maynooth and the Irish College in Rome “have been in deep trouble for decades – mainly due to the homosexual subculture that exists in both places”.

    However, a spokesman for Maynooth told the Irish Independent Msgr Connolly first asked the trustees of St Patrick’s College Maynooth (SPCM) for a sabbatical period in May 2015. “Following his nine years as president, this request has now been granted and will take effect from September,” he stated.

    Asked about the allegations of inappropriate behaviour, he said he was “not aware of any matter before the independent panel and chairperson”.

    Complete Article HERE!


Yes, There Are Women Priests, and The Vatican Wishes There Weren’t

By Barbie Latza Nadeau

Pope John Paul II slammed the door, and Catholic conservatives say females can never be priests, but it may already be too late.

Father Roy Bougeois from Georgia poses with a group of Roman Catholic activist in front of the Vatican

VATICAN CITY — In early June, a small group of devout Catholic women marched near St. Peter’s Square with a big pink cardboard telephone booth marked “Door to Dialogue,” trying to draw attention to the taboo topic of female priests. The group, part of the 40-year-old U.S.-based Women’s Ordination Conference and the 20-year-old Women’s Ordination Worldwide group, donned purple priest stoles and held signs with slogans like “22 Years On Mute” and “Calls Waiting.”

They also hung 100 giant posters of women priests in various poses with the hashtag #ordainwomen. The photographs were taken by Italian artist Nausicaa Giulia Bianchi, who has documented 70 self-ordained female priests in an attempt to highlight what many see as blatant misogyny within the Catholic hierarchy.

“All have been excommunicated for breaking the Vatican law,” Bianchi writes on her website. “Disobeying a patriarchal law to follow the call of God, they ask for the spiritual equality of men and women to be recognized.”

Among the group supporting prohibited priestesses was Father Tony Flannery, a male Irish priest who was suspended from active ministry and censured and barred from speaking out and writing about the church in 2012 because he was an outspoken advocate of women’s ordination and married priests. While in Rome, he compared the current stance of the church on women’s issues to its mindset in the Middle Ages.

“I am becoming increasingly convinced that the inequality of women is becoming a major issue and a major challenge facing the Catholic Church,” he told the National Catholic Reporter. Unless addressed, he said, the church “will continue becoming more sidelined and little more than a sect.”

The group of demonstrators marched here during the Vatican’s Jubilee for Priests and Seminarians, which was a special event under the umbrella of the Holy Jubilee Year of Mercy dedicated to the all male clergy.

Members of the group, who called their march the Jubilee for Women, didn’t get to bend the ear of Pope Francis directly, but they did make their point. “The Jubilee, intentionally coinciding with the Vatican’s ‘Jubilee for Priests’ offered a celebration of a renewed image of the priesthood,” Kate McElwee, co-executive director of the Women’s Ordination Conference, told The Daily Beast. “One that is inclusive and welcoming of all people.”

The group was able to secure a permit to demonstrate in Rome, which was nothing short of a miracle in a city that normally sides with the Holy See. It was the first time in the 40-year history of the Women’s Ordination Conference that women priests had been allowed anywhere near the Vatican, where the idea of ordaining women has been met with everything from blatant sexism to outright misogyny. In fact, any women who consider themselves ordained priests are automatically excommunicated from the Catholic Church. And the march stopped at the gates to St. Peter’s Square.

Still, there is hope.

Last month, when Pope Francis told a group of 900 nuns he would create a commission to study the concept of ordaining women deacons, Catholic conservatives warned that it must never evolve to ordaining women as priests because priests can only represent Christ, who is a male figure, and therefore a woman could never fulfill that role. Even some supporters of women’s ordination scoffed at the deacon idea as a way to placate those who support women clergy.

But McElwee, who is the first advocate of the Women’s Ordination Conference to be permanently based in Rome, believes it is a move in the right direction.

“Opening a commission to study the diaconate for women would be a great step for the Vatican in recognizing its own history,” she says, referring to decades of research and biblical and historical evidence that point to several women deacons working alongside men in the early church. “Discussion on ordained ministries for women is new for the Vatican, and something we celebrate.”

If Francis does create the commission and it does lead to the ordination of deacons, two steps that are yet to happen, it would amount to a complete about face. In 1994, Pope John Paul II issued the Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, a document that banned even the discussion about the ordination of women. “I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful,” he wrote, effectively slamming the door.

Some of the women already consider themselves ordained Catholic priests under an organization called the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests. Cristina Moreira, who is from Spain, told The Daily Beast that they prepare and ordain women to carry out all the same duties as male Catholic priests, even though the Church automatically excommunicates them.

Moreira told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo, “This is the year of Jubilee and Mercy, of forgiveness. We’ve come to ask Pope Francis to lift the excommunication,” adding, “What evil have we done? To give communion is nothing bad, and to help those in need isn’t either.”

The women priests say their ordination was performed legitimately within the framework of church structures. “The principal consecrating Roman Catholic male bishop who ordained our first women bishops is a bishop with apostolic succession within the Roman Catholic Church in communion with the pope,” according to the group’s mission statement. “Therefore, our bishops validly ordain deacons, priests and bishops.”

Argentine Rómulo Antonio Braschi, a former Catholic bishop who rejected his own excommunication in 2002 for ordaining his wife, has openly ordained several female priests in addition to her, and the group says other male bishops have done so anonymously since the first ordinations took place.

Moreira and Janice Sevré-Duszynska, an American female priest who marched on Rome, say they delivered a petition in support of women’s ordination to an unnamed “senior Vatican official” who is said to have delivered it to the pope. The very fact that they were given that opportunity spells a massive change of heart, or at least a very savvy public relations effort, on the part of the Vatican, which surely doesn’t want to shut out 50 percent of the faithful by slamming the door again.

“At this time, the Catholic Church legitimizes sexism by prohibiting women from ordained ministries and decision-making roles within the church,” McElwee says, standing firm in her belief that they will one day be heard.  “Until women are fully included in church structures as equals, [we] will continue to expose this injustice through art, activism, public witness, and dialogue.”

Complete Article HERE!


Where did the Orlando shooter learn his hate? Hint: It wasn’t from Osama bin Laden.

By Jenny Boylan


Donald Trump wasted no time. “Is President Obama going to finally mention the words radical Islamic terrorism? If he doesn’t he should immediately resign in disgrace!”

This was early on Sunday, as the country was waking up to learn about the massacre in Orlando. Fifty people dancing at “Latin night” at a gay nightclub, The Pulse, had been killed by shooter who, at that hour, had not yet been identified.

The facts weren’t all in then, and are even now still being revealed. But it wasn’t too early for Donald Trump to decide on the source for this tragedy. “I called it,” he tweeted, referring to his pledge to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the country.

There are a lot of threads in this story: gun rights, terrorism, ISIS, Latino and Latina identity, immigration, and the endless and execrable campaign of 2016. It is hard to understand this catastrophe without taking the time to understand how all these forces intersect. The weeks ahead will give us the chance to learn more.

But one thing seems clear already. Omar Mateen didn’t learn his hatred of LGBT people from a distant cell of terrorists in Syria. He learned it on American soil.

This was no foreign born terrorist who furtively snuck over the border, like those Mexican “criminals, drug dealers, and rapists” Trump has mentioned. This was a man born in New York, raised in this country. Whatever he is, he is the product of our own culture.

We know that Mateen had been married, for a year, and that the marriage was marked by violence and abuse. But we also know that he had used an app called Jack’d, a dating site for men. He’d once proposed meeting a gay man for a drink at Pulse, the very club where he would later commit his atrocity.

One possible narrative of this tragedy is that it was committed by a man who was attracted to other men, and who found it impossible to accept the truth of what was in his heart. So instead he decided to destroy what was in himself, by lashing out at his brothers and sisters, to destroy the lives of people living with an absence of shame that he could not imagine for himself.

This was a man who had learned that it is better to commit mass murder — and suicide — than to accept oneself. This was a man who had learned that the lives of gay and lesbian and bi and trans people are expendable, that his own life, if he was one of us, was not worth living.

From whom did he learn this lesson? Did terrorists in Syria send him telegrams? Did the Taliban reach him by phone?

hate (2)

Of course not. He learned hatred of LGBT people, and of himself, right here at home.

He learned it from a county in which 200 anti LGBT bills have been introduced in the last six months.

He learned it in a country in which legislators have approved bills making it legal for any business not to approve services for marriages on the basis of religious objection.

He learned it from a country in which in one state, people with female anatomy and appearance are legally required to use the men’s room, because of what might appear on their birth certificates.

He learned it from a country in which, in another state, mental health professionals are permitted, if they so choose, to refuse services to gay people.

He learned it from a country in which people like me, and families like mine, are blithely referred to as “abominations.”

He learned it from a country in which the Lieutenant Governor of Texas — the second highest elected official in our second largest state — responded to the tragedy in Orlando by posting the message on Twitter: “God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.”

He learned it from a country in which more than a third of transgender people have attempted to take their own lives. One such victim, seventeen year old Leelah Alcorn, threw herself in front of a truck last year rather than live in this culture. “Fix society,” she wrote in her suicide note.

The society Alcorn wanted fixed is not the society of the Taliban in the mountains of Pakistan. The society Alcorn wanted fixed is not the society of the Islamic State. It was the society of her home town of Kings Mills, Ohio, a state that has no protections for sexual orientation or gender identity outside of state employment.

It was the society of Orlando, Florida, where a person who survived the massacre at the Pulse on Saturday night can be legally fired on Monday morning for being gay.

On Sunday, just hours after the Orlando shooting, a twenty year old Indiana Man, James Wesley Howell, was arrested in California with an arsenal of weapons he apparently intended to use on an attack on the Los Angeles Pride celebration. His car contained three assault rifles, high capacity magazines, ammunition, and a five gallon bucket containing chemicals.

From whom did Howell learn his hatred? Hint: It wasn’t Osama bin Laden.

We cannot create a more loving and compassionate country by sealing our borders. Hatred of people like me, and of my family, does not come from overseas.

The fault is not in our stars. It is in ourselves.

Complete Article HERE!