08/28/16

The only thing ‘odious’ at Paramus Catholic is bigotry

ate Drumgoole, center, and her wife, Jaclyn Vanore, rear left, during a court hearing. Drumgoole is suing Paramus Catholic High School, alleging it violated the state's discrimination law when she was fired because she's married to a woman.

ate Drumgoole, center, and her wife, Jaclyn Vanore, rear left, during a court hearing. Drumgoole is suing Paramus Catholic High School, alleging it violated the state’s discrimination law when she was fired because she’s married to a woman.

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board

A New Jersey Catholic high school is being sued for firing a beloved guidance counselor and basketball coach because of her “odious” gay lifestyle.

This was the revealing word choice of Rev. Thomas Nydegger, second-in-command to Archbishop John J. Myers. We’ll get to that. First, though, there is a church v. state debate.

The Newark Archdiocese argues Kate Drumgoole wasn’t fired from Paramus Catholic because she was gay, but because she violated church tenets by entering into a same-sex marriage. It says this falls under an exception to the state’s anti-discrimination law that protects religious freedom, and that the First Amendment also guards religion against government meddling.

Drumgoole says this isn’t a First Amendment issue because she wasn’t involved in teaching religion. She says she was fired not because of her marriage but because of her sexual orientation, which is discrimination under state law.

How far we allow religion to go is a genuinely difficult legal question. What if a religion holds that races should not mix, as many Christian churches once did? Should that church have the right to fire teachers based on race? When does a claim of religious freedom become an excuse to justify bigotry?

Regardless of the legal debate, though, one thing is certain: The archdiocese has acted abysmally. Since learning that Drumgoole is gay, after photos of her 2014 wedding were circulated by a vindictive relative, the archdiocese has referred to her as “a poor role model.”

That’s rich. Countless teachers, parents and students at Paramus Catholic have vouched for her admirable leadership. Drumgoole was once a two-time captain and star player of the Paramus Catholic girls’ basketball team. She had risen through the ranks at her alma mater, and recently been promoted to an administrative role.

Myers, meanwhile, was protecting pedophile priests and using church money to build himself an opulent retirement mansion, while removing a popular gay priest from Seton Hall against the will of parishioners, accusing him of having an “agenda.” Right.

Myers’ second-in-command, Rev. Nydegger, wrote that Drumgoole’s former work as a guidance counselor “makes her gay marriage and gay lifestyle (whether overt or covert) particularly odious.”

Odious, as defined by Merriam Webster online, is “deserving hatred or repugnance.” So what Nydegger said is, quite literally, hateful.

Contrast that with what Pope Francis said about gay priests: “Who am I to judge?” The Pope argues the first purpose of the church is to proclaim God’s merciful love for all people, and says it should seek forgiveness from gays for the way it has treated them.

Drumgoole’s firing is the perfect example. Thousands of Paramus Catholic alumni expressed outrage in a letter to school administrators: “You institutionalize the kind of oppressive worldview that leads students to bully and verbally abuse other students based on their sexual orientation,” their petition says.

More than 50 gay or lesbian people across the nation have been fired or had employment offers rescinded since 2010, New Ways Ministry, an advocacy group for gay, lesbian and transgender Catholics, told the Bergen Record.

The church’s hypocrisy is striking. Other faculty members at Paramus Catholic are divorced and remarried, at least one has a child out of wedlock, some cohabitate with members of the opposite sex, at least one other teacher is gay, and nude photographs of another teacher have been circulated online, according to Drumgoole’s lawsuit.

None of those teachers have been fired for violating church tenets. Drumgoole, apparently, was singled out. Her lifestyle is not “particularly odious” because of church tenets — it’s because of church bigotry.

Complete Article HERE!

08/26/16

The Catholic Church can either reform itself after the Maynooth mess – or risk looking like a Fr Ted episode

By Tom Clonan

Maynooth seminary

MY PARENTS DIDN’T like Father Ted. They didn’t get it. If my Mum and Dad were alive today they’d be in their 80s. They were a generation that grew up in an Ireland dominated by the Catholic Church. For my parents, Fr Ted was like a fly on the wall documentary about priests. They couldn’t laugh at it. They couldn’t enter into the comedic spirit of it. They simply couldn’t suspend disbelief in order to laugh at Fr Ted, Fr Jack and Fr Dougal.

It was as though you ‘couldn’t make it up’. And yet, Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews had made it up. They had conceived, devised and constructed an elegant satire that eloquently described the comic, dark reality of the organisational culture of the Catholic Church in Ireland.

I have been reminded of Graham Linehan and Arthur Mathews in the recent media coverage of the controversies that have engulfed the national seminary at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth. Media reports of a ‘gay subculture’ at the college and the alleged widespread use of the gay dating app Grindr among seminarians read like the script of a Fr Ted episode.

The news value of these stories have pushed them to the top of the news agenda. This dynamic may have obscured the real story however. To be honest, I believe the sexual orientation of seminarians or priests is largely irrelevant in the context of the grave challenges that confront the institution of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Indeed, much of the coverage has been voyeuristic and gay shaming – perhaps unwittingly revealing a deep-seated homophobic bias among some commentators.

The Church of Ireland approach 

The requirement for celibacy among Catholic clergy is however an issue that dogs that institution. In other Christian churches, celibacy is not a compulsory obligation. Many Catholic priests and nuns have spoken eloquently about the pain and isolation that such an arbitrary requirement causes. As seminarians struggle with their formation as priests, no doubt they equally struggle with their sexuality and the unnatural, unjust – I would say un-Christ-like – diktat for absolute sexual abstinence.

Fourteen men have commenced their studies at St Patrick’s College, Maynooth in the last week or so. This brings to a total of 41 the number of men preparing for the Catholic priesthood at the national seminary. Nationwide, the number of Catholic priests has fallen to around 1,900. The age profile of these priests skews towards older rather than younger. Most must now work in full ministry until they are 75 – and beyond. In twenty years, this number will have shrunk to almost nothing.

In comparison, the Church of Ireland has 539 ordained clergy serving a nationwide congregation one-tenth the size of the Catholic Church. 111 of these are women. Currently, the Church of Ireland has 35 ‘ordinands’ – men and women who are in training for ordained ministry. Clearly, the Church of Ireland does not share the same crisis in vocations that is now experienced by the Catholic Church here. Men and women alike – irrespective of sexual orientation – are free to answer their calling to Christ within the Anglican Church and may marry and have children if they so wish. As clergy, they share the same challenges and struggles as their congregation.

The problematic response from the seminary 

Meanwhile, in response to the crisis at Maynooth, it is reported that St Patrick’s College has decided to restrict and isolate the seminarians further. Apparently, the Seminary Council will eat breakfast with the seminarians each morning. In addition, attendance at evening meal with the Seminary Council has become mandatory with compulsory nightly rosary at 9pm each evening. If true, this challenges my ability to suspend disbelief. Such responses are retrograde, regressive and indistinguishable from the satire contained within an episode of Father Ted.

Seminarians need to be fully integrated into the student body on campus. ‘Training’ them in isolation – away from the communities they will live among and serve – makes no sense and will further institutionalise and harm them. The steps taken by the Seminary Council are typical of an organisation in crisis and under threat.

In such circumstances, secretive, closed institutions – like the clergy, armed forces and police – retreat further into themselves. They tend to subordinate the public good to misplaced self-interest and internal loyalties. Such strategies, designed to ‘circle the wagons’ in order to preserve ever-diminishing prestige and status, are ill-conceived, ill-considered and inimical to the long term interests of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Such strategies failed to solve the clerical child sex abuse scandals. In fact, such strategies have compounded the abuse and added to the pain inflicted on women and children by a male-dominated and deeply misogynistic organisational culture.

What I saw in the Defence Forces

As a retired officer within Ireland’s armed forces, I have first-hand experience of the defensive organisational culture of closed and secretive Irish institutions. When I uncovered evidence of widespread misogyny and inappropriate levels of sexual violence within the Defence Forces, I experienced whistleblower reprisal and a defensive and adversarial response from the general staff.

After an independent government enquiry confirmed my research findings however, the military authorities have since embraced transformational organisational change from within. Army officers and other members of the defence forces are now educated alongside their civilian peers in Institutes of Technology and university campuses across the country including NUI Galway and NUI Maynooth. The military authorities have now targeted women for recruitment to the organisation and understand fully that diversity and integration are crucial to the success of any military organisation. An army that does not reflect the society from which it is drawn will fail in its mission and will fail as an organisation.

Similarly, the Catholic Church will fail in its mission if it does not reflect the society which it purports to serve. The Catholic Church will fail as an organisation if it does not ordain women and allow for marriage among its clergy. This reality is reflected in the statement issued by the Trustees of the National Seminary in the wake of the recent scandals. In their statement, the Trustees – who include Archbishop of Dublin, Diarmuid Martin – state that St Patrick’s must form priests ‘after the heart of the Good Shepherd’. This call for integration is reflected in Archbishop Martin’s observation that the Catholic Church in Ireland is in need of transformational change and has reached the ‘end of an era’. If his colleagues in the conference of Irish bishops ignore this reality, the last chapter of the Catholic Church in Ireland will resemble the final episode of a surreal and tragic-comic Fr Ted series.

 Complete Article HERE!

08/26/16

Activist pastor accused of child molestation

Ken Adkins regularly speaks out on Jacksonville political issues

By Heather Leigh

Glynn County Sheriff's Office booking photo of Ken Adkins

Glynn County Sheriff’s Office booking photo of Ken Adkins

Ken Adkins was arrested Friday morning and charged with one count of aggravated child molestation and one count of child molestation, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reported.

Adkins, 56, who is pastor of the Greater Dimensions Christian Fellowship, turned himself in at 9 a.m. at the Glynn County jail.

A GBI agent told News4Jax that several incidents of molestation were alleged to have occurred at the church, in a vehicle and at the victim’s residence. The Brunswick Judicial Circuit asked the Brunswick police to assist in the investigation, which began Aug. 12 and is ongoing.

Adkins’ attorney, Kevin Gough, said the charges are over an alleged incident that happened six years ago and felt that the investigation and charges were rushed.

“He will ultimately be cleared of any wrongdoing,” Adkin’s wife and co-pastor, Charlotte Adkins, said. “I share my husband’s concern for the alleged victim,” who she said was a young man who was part of the church’s teen ministry.

Gough said he was filing motions for bail, a preliminary hearing, to demand a speedy trial and to see the evidence.

“Mr. Adkins and I have conferred and he is innocent and he looks forward to being cleared of the charges against him,” Gough said. “He looks forward to his day in court.”

Ken Adkins has spoken publicly on Jacksonville political issues, including the city’s proposed human rights ordinance, transgender bathrooms and the city’s crime rate.

According to criminal records, Adkins was arrested in 2003 for obtaining property in return for a worthless check, petty theft in 2002, leaving the scene of an accident resulting in injury in 2001 and multiple grand theft and fraud charges.

This article will be updated throughout the day as more information becomes available.

Complete Article HERE!

08/26/16

Church leaders hold crisis talks held over fears trainee Catholic priests using gay dating app Grindr

The Grindr app

The Grindr app on a phone.

Church leaders have held crisis talks over fears that trainee Catholic priests in Ireland are using the gay dating app Grindr.

Ireland’s Catholic Church hierarchy admitted concerns about an “unhealthy atmosphere” at the country’s main seminary.

As a result Church leaders have ordered a review of the “appropriate use of the internet and social media” at a centuries-old training centre for priests, as well as an overhaul of its approach to whistleblowers.

Talks were held after the most senior Catholic in Ireland said he was boycotting the seminary and sending student priests to Rome rather than St Patrick’s College in Maynooth, Co Kildare, which is just 16 miles from the capital.

“Strange goings on” and “a quarrelsome” atmosphere led to Dublin Archbishop Diarmuid Martin’s decision.

Dr Diarmuid Martin said he made the decision because he was “somewhat unhappy” about “an atmosphere that was growing in Maynooth” exposed through anonymous accusations in letters and online blogs.

The Catholic Archbishop of Dublin said allegations included “a homosexual, a gay culture, that students have been using an app called Grindr” which he said “would be fostering promiscuous sexuality”.

The Archbishop said there were further allegations that whistleblowers trying to bring claimed wrongdoing to the attention of authorities were being dismissed from the seminary.

The four Archbishops and 13 senior Bishops have called on the church to set up an independent audit into the running of both Irish seminaries: Maynooth and St Malachy’s in Belfast.

Complete Article HERE!

08/22/16

Church of England warned bishops not to apologise too fully to sex abuse victims

By

Bishop of Durham

The Bishop of Durham was head of safeguarding

Survivors of child sexual abuse have accused the Church of England of “acting like Pontius Pilate” as a previously unseen document revealed that bishops were explicitly instructed only to give partial apologies – if at all – to victims to avoid being sued.

Legal advice marked “strictly confidential” and circulated among the most senior bishops, told them to “express regret” only using wording approved by lawyers, PR advisers and insurers.

The guidance – written in 2007 and finally replaced just last year – also warns bishops to be wary of meeting victims face to face and only ever to do so after legal advice.

It speaks of the “unintended effect of accepting legal liability” for sexual abuse within their diocese and warns them to avoid “inadvertently” conceding guilt.

The paper, seen by The Telegraph and confirmed as genuine, advises bishops to use “careful drafting” to “effectively apologise” without enabling victims to get compensation.

oe tried to contact the Archbishop of Canterbury

Joe tried to contact the Archbishop of Canterbury

Survivors said it showed there was a culture of denial, dishonesty and “blanking” victims in ways which had heightened their pain and ultimately failed to tackle the roots of the abuse crisis.

It follows a damning independent review of the Church’s handling of sadistic abuse by Garth Moore, a priest and top canon lawyer, in the 1970s.

It highlighted how the teenager – known as “Joe” – revealed his ordeal to a string of leading clerics, three of them later ordained as bishops, who then claimed not to remember anything.

The report singled out the way in which the Bishop of Durham, the Rt Rev Paul Butler, the Church’s then head of safeguarding, cut all contact with Joe, following advice from insurers, after he began legal action. The review condemned this as “reckless”.

Meanwhile Lambeth Palace brushed off around 17 requests for a meeting with the Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, without any “meaningful” reply, it shows.

Joe said the newly revealed document “made total sense” in light of his own experience.

“This finally exposes the culture that has been followed,” he said

“The approach to survivors is often a corporate model and this document supports that – it shows a church led by lawyers and insurers, you get the impression that these people are really their masters.

“A diocese is deferential to their bishop and the bishop is deferential to a bunch of lawyers.

“The Church will say ‘our hands are tied’ but they are paying the people who are tying their hands.

“They should say we need to stop this nonsense but they wash their hands like Pontius Pilate.

“Every part of this nexus [the bishops, the lawyers and insurers owners] washes its hands of every other part of it but the nexus is joined at the hip.”

The advice, by the Church’s top legal advisor, Stephen Slack, explains how bishops could find themselves being sued over the actions – or inaction – of their predecessors.

While accepting that they might “understandably want to express their regret”, it adds: “Because of the possibility that statements of regret might have the unintended effect of accepting legal liability for the abuse it is important that they are approved in advance by lawyers, as well as by diocesan communications officers (and, if relevant, insurers).

“With careful drafting it should be possible to express them in terms which effectively apologise for what has happened whilst at the same time avoiding any concession of legal liability for it.”

On the possibility of bishops meeting victims, it adds: “This may be the right course in some circumstances but great care will be needed to ensure that nothing is said which inadvertently concedes legal liability.”

One of Britain’s leading child abuse lawyers, David Greenwood of Switalskis, who represented Joe, said: “With Church organisations you expect a higher standard than just a legalistic approach.

“This is a naïve document, it is legalistic and doesn’t take into account the needs of survivors of child sexual abuse.

“I think this is more naivety than nastiness – but the effect definitely can be nasty.”

Richard Scorer, another leading lawyer representing more than 50 victims in the ongoing Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse, said: “This confirms what we have long suspected which is that when they would offer apologies they were deliberately constructed in a way to avoid any meaningful responsibility.

“I’m sure they will be embarrassed at the language here but it reflects a reality that we have come across time and again with the churches that they will take an apologetic tone but that is combined with an unwillingness to admit responsibility.”

New guidelines produced by the Church of England in June last year effectively repudiate the earlier advice, insisting that the “pastoral response” to victims should be the top priority and must be separated from legal and insurance responses.

But it goes on to add that apologies should be discussed with insurers, communications officer and ecclesiastical lawyers.

Bishop Sarah Mullally met with Joe and apologised for the Church's handling of the case

Bishop Sarah Mullally met with Joe and apologised for the Church’s handling of the case

A Church of England spokesman said: “The Church of England published new guidance in 2015 emphasising that: ‘The pastoral response to alleged victims and survivors is of top priority, and needs to be separated as far as possible from the management processes for the situation, and from legal and insurance responses.’

“That superseded all previous advice and ensures that the pastoral needs of survivors must never be neglected and pastoral contact can continue whatever legal issues exist.”

He added: “Bishop Sarah Mullally is working closely with the National Safeguarding Team to implement the recommendations of the Elliott Review which have been fully endorsed by the House of Bishops.

“When Bishop Sarah received the review on behalf of the Church of England, as requested by the survivor, she offered an unreserved apology for the failings of the Church towards the survivor.

“Following the publication Bishop Sarah met with him and two members of MACSAS [Minister and Clergy Sexual Abuse Survivors].

“This was an opportunity to apologise in person for the failings of the Church towards him and the horrific abuse he suffered.”

Complete Article HERE!