Former North Side Catholic nun gets ordained

The Nun’s Story …

A former North Side Catholic nun was ordained a priest recently in an unsanctioned church ceremony in Fort Myers, Fla.

She was immediately ex-communicated from the Catholic church.

“I reject that,” said Judy Beaumont, 74 — the former Sister Mary Daniel — who grew up in Rogers Park before becoming a Benedictine nun who taught theology at St. Scholastica Academy.

Beaumont, who is now referred to as Pastor Judy, was ordained by the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests.

“We are following our conscience and we are full loyal members of the church,” said Beaumont.

“We will do everything we can to bring about a new way of inclusivity in the church,” said Beaumont, who is now the 11th priest ordained by her group.

The key differences in the women’s “ordination” ceremony are:

† They don’t take a vow of obedience to the bishop. (“It basically denies you the ability to follow your conscience.”)

† Their bishop is a woman, who serves as a spiritual adviser.

† They don’t take a vow of celibacy and allow married, single, grandmothers, gay and straight women into the priestly fold.

† Rather than always referring to God as a “he,” their church language is more inclusive. The “Our Father” prayer reads “Our Mother/Father, who art in heaven.”

“The institutional church will not hire any of us to do church ministry, so we do what we can ministering in hospitals and to the homeless,” she said. “We hold Sunday mass in “church” houses and live on donations. “Stepping outside the institution is hard.”

Two more women are being ordained priests in the next few days, Beaumont added. “I didn’t decide I wanted to become a priest, it was a calling,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

Lawyers press for more SNAP documents, testimony

Attorneys who deposed the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) in January are requesting he be compelled to give more testimony and allege that the group is not covered by confidentiality protections afforded to rape crisis centers, court filings reveal.

The documents, dated Feb. 10 but obtained by NCR on Wednesday, relate to a Kansas City, Mo., court case that made headlines in December when it became the first where lawyers sought the deposition of a SNAP leader and requested that the organization hand over 23 years of internal records, correspondence and email.

Speaking to NCR, David Clohessy, the group’s director and subject of the Jan. 2 deposition, said the continuing legal battle over the case has left the group “basically broke” and “without enough money for the next payroll.”

Clohessy, who said after his deposition that he had refused to answer many of the lawyers’ questions and to submit many of the requested documents, also said the financial struggles led him to release his lawyer. He said he is currently representing himself in the case while he searches for a lawyer willing to serve pro bono.

The Feb. 10 motion, filed in the case of Kansas City diocesan priest Fr. Michael Tierney, requests that Jackson County, Mo., Circuit Court Judge Ann Mesle compel Clohessy to answer the questions he refused to answer in the deposition and provide the documents he withheld.

Mesle’s ruling in the case could have wider significance, as SNAP has also been subpoenaed to provide similar testimony and documents in a case involving allegations of sexual misconduct against a priest in the St. Louis archdiocese.

Clohessy and Barbara Dorris, SNAP’s outreach director, received subpoenas in January requesting their deposition in that case. Depositions were originally set for Wednesday but have since been postponed.

While some of the information contained in the suggestions made by Tierney’s lawyers in connection with the Feb. 10 motion has already been reported, the 34-page filing also seems to reveal key parts of the lawyers’ strategy, giving reasons why they believe Clohessy should be forced to answer their questions.

The motion also represents the first time information about the testimony has officially been made public. While court filings indicate that Mesle ordered parts of the proceeding’s transcript to be unsealed in late January, a clerk with the Jackson County courthouse said it had not yet been released because it is still under review by attorneys in the caseWhile Mesle had ordered Clohessy to turn over eight categories of documents from SNAP’s files during the deposition, the motion alleges the SNAP leader did not submit documents in six of the eight categories requested and only submitted a portion of those requested in the seventh and eighth.

The motion gives eight categories of arguments for why Clohessy should be compelled to answer more questions in the case. The motion devotes 16 pages to refuting SNAP’s arguments that it has confidentiality protections afforded by Missouri law for rape crisis centers.

Among nine separately developed points in that regard, the motion alleges that Clohessy’s answers to some of the questions in the deposition “demonstrate that SNAP is not an RCC [rape crisis center],” and proceeds to list 20 separate reasons from his testimony that the group such not be considered such an organization.

Included in those reasons is the fact that SNAP has “never advertised itself” as such a center, that Clohessy does not have any formal training or education in rape crisis counseling, that SNAP does not employ any licensed counselors in Missouri, and that the group’s tax returns for 2006-10 did not make reference to it being a rape crisis center.

Additionally, the motion alleges that public information demonstrates that SNAP is not such a center — specifically the fact that the group “does not appear” to be in partnership with the National Sexual Assault Hotline and that it was not found in the Yellow Pages under listings of rape crisis centers.

Among other reasons the motion gives for arguing that SNAP is not covered by Missouri’s protections for rape crisis centers is the fact that Clohessy allegedly said in the deposition that the group would not release confidential information about survivors even if they sign a waiver allowing him to.

Rebecca Randles, the attorney representing the plaintiff in the abuse case, said in a phone interview Thursday that she thought the motion’s arguments that SNAP could not qualify as a rape crisis center were not “very weighty.”

Referring to one of the arguments the motion makes against SNAP’s qualifications to fit into that definition because Clohessy works out of his home, Randles said the determination for protections under Missouri law come from the substance of what an organization does, not where it is located.

“You have to look at the substance,” Randles said. “The whole question really is: Do people go there because they’re in crisis from sexual assault? And the answer is absolutely, yes they do.”

“The vast bulk of what they do is support victims of rape and assault, so they have to be a rape crisis center,” she said.

Following news of the subpoena requesting Clohessy’s deposition in December, 10 victims’ advocacy groups filed an amicus brief on behalf of SNAP to Missouri’s Supreme Court, writing that Clohessy’s testimony would amount to a “violation of the anonymity and confidentiality” of SNAP members and volunteers and is “plainly unconstitutional.”

Included in that group of organizations were the Foundation to Abolish Child Sex Abuse, the KidSafe Foundation and The National Child Protection Training Center.

Beyond claiming that SNAP should not be considered a rape crisis center under Missouri law, the motion also alleges that were the group to be considered such a center, its conversations with some survivors would not be covered by confidentiality privileges.

Noting that lawsuits filed on behalf of abuse victims regularly include language about how victims have suffered some sort of mental injury from their abuse, the motion alleges that SNAP is “not entitled to the protection of a privilege due to the alleged victims placing their emotional state and mental conditions at issue.”

Specifically, the motion alleges that because several victims in the Kansas City cases claim their memories returned to them years after the abuse, the fact that Clohessy would not discuss the matter indicates they are “trying to shield the very information that would lead a jury to understand that person’s medical history.”

“The matter before this Court involves repressed memory, physical, emotional, and mental injuries,” reads the motion. “The Plantiffs have placed their physical, emotional, and mental conditions at issue, and, therefore, the information possessed by SNAP on these issues is clearly relevant, and any privileges, if any, have been waived.”

Among the additional information the motion confirms about Clohessy’s testimony is that lawyers representing five other Kansas City-area priests accused of abuse listed “cross-notice” for his deposition, allowing them to be present and ask questions.

The motion requests that each of those attorneys also receive copies of the requested SNAP documents.

Mesle had ordered Clohessy to submit documents and correspondence, including emails, from SNAP’s files referring to Tierney or the Kansas City-St. Joseph diocese. Among other categories, Clohessy was also ordered to submit all documents containing references to either Tierney or the diocese from correspondence with the press and the public.

The motion alleges that Clohessy refused to turn over any documents referring to Tierney, and also alleges that he did not turn over requested records of his correspondence with Randles.

The motion also requests that “reasonable attorney fees” be awarded to Tierney’s lawyers for “expenses incurred to obtain” such a court order.

The motion suggests that a “special master,” a legal term for someone authorized to supervise the following of a court order, be appointed in the case to determine “what questions would be proper” to ask of Clohessy and to be present during any additional deposition in order “to make appropriate rulings.”

A hearing on the motion has been set for April 20. Brian Madden, one of the lawyers representing Tierney, said he could not comment on the matter because of a gag order in the case.

For his part, Clohessy said he was still considering what formal reply he might submit to the motion and said he was not sure what the next steps are for SNAP.

Part of the reason for the group’s financial struggles, he said, is that they “never had any inkling that church lawyers would come after us so fast and furiously and never budgeted for it.”

Asked what would happen if Mesle were to order him to answer questions he refused to in the deposition or to submit documents he claims are confidential, he said he would “cross that bridge when we get to it.”

“It’s just hard to imagine that we’ll be forced to violate the privacy of people who have come to us for help, especially people who are so deeply wounded.”

Complete Article HERE!

Contraception’s Con Men

By a revolting combination of con men and fanatics, the current primary race has become a demonstration that the Republican party does not deserve serious consideration for public office. Take the controversy over contraceptives. American bishops at first opposed having hospitals and schools connected with them pay employee health costs for contraceptives. But when the President backed off from that requirement, saying insurance companies can pay the costs, the bishops doubled down and said no one should have to pay for anything so evil as contraception. Some Republicans are using the bishops’ stupidity to hurt the supposed “moderate” candidate Mitt Romney, giving a temporary leg up to the faux naïf Rick Santorum; others are attacking Barack Obama as an “enemy of religion.”

Pusillanimous Catholics—Mark Shields and even, to a degree, the admirable E. J. Dionne—are saying that Catholics understandably resent an attack on “their” doctrine (even though they do not personally believe in it). Omnidirectional bad-faith arguments have clustered around what is falsely presented as a defense of “faith.” The layers of ignorance are equaled only by the willingness of people “of all faiths” to use them for their own purposes. Consider just some of the layers:

The Phony Religious Freedom Argument

The bishops’ opposition to contraception is not an argument for a “conscience exemption.” It is a way of imposing Catholic requirements on non-Catholics. This is religious dictatorship, not religious freedom.

Contraception is not even a religious matter. Nowhere in Scripture or the Creed is it forbidden. Catholic authorities themselves say it is a matter of “natural law,” over which natural reason is the arbiter—and natural reason, even for Catholics, has long rejected the idea that contraception is evil. More of that later; what matters here is that contraception is legal, ordinary, and accepted even by most Catholics. To say that others must accept what Catholics themselves do not is bad enough. To say that President Obama is “trying to destroy the Catholic Church” if he does not accept it is much, much worse.

To disagree with Catholic bishops is called “disrespectful,” an offense against religious freedom. That is why there is a kind of taboo against bringing up Romney’s Mormonism. But if Romney sincerely believed in polygamy on religious grounds, as his grandfather did, he would not even be considered for the presidency—any more than a sincere Christian Scientist, who rejects the use of medicine, would be voted for to handle public health care. Yet a man who believes that contraception is evil is an aberrant from the American norm, like the polygamist or the faith healer.

The Phony Contraception Argument

The opposition to contraception has, as I said, no scriptural basis. Pope Pius XI once said that it did, citing in his encyclical Casti Connubii (1930) the condemnation of Onan for “spilling his seed” rather than impregnating a woman (Genesis 38.9). But later popes had to back off from this claim, since everyone agrees now that Onan’s sin was not carrying out his duty to give his brother an heir (Deuteronomy 25.5-6). Then the “natural law” was fallen back on, saying that the natural purpose of sex is procreation, and any use of it for other purposes is “unnatural.” But a primary natural purpose does not of necessity exclude ancillary advantages. The purpose of eating is to sustain life, but that does not make all eating that is not necessary to subsistence “unnatural.” One can eat, beyond the bare minimum to exist, to express fellowship, as one can have sex, beyond the begetting of a child with each act, to express love.

The Roman authorities would not have fallen for such a silly argument but for a deep historical disrelish for sex itself. Early Fathers and medieval theologians considered sex unworthy when not actually sinful. That is why virgin saints and celibate priests were prized above married couples. Thomas Aquinas said that priests must not be married, since “those in holy orders handle the sacred vessels and the sacrament itself, and therefore it is proper (decens) that they preserve, by abstinences, a body undefiled (munditia corporalis) (Summa Theologiae, Part 3 Supplement, Question 53, article 3, Response). Marriage, you see, makes for defilement (immunditia). The ban on contraception is a hangover from the period when the body itself was considered unclean, as Peter Brown overwhelmingly proved in The Body and Society (1988).

The Phony “Church Teaches” Argument

Catholics who do not accept the phony argument over contraception are said to be “going against the teachings of their church.” That is nonsense. They are their church. The Second Vatican Council defines the church as “the people of God.” Thinking that the pope is the church is a relic of the days when a monarch was said to be his realm. The king was “Denmark.” Catholics have long realized that their own grasp of certain things, especially sex, has a validity that is lost on the celibate male hierarchy. This is particularly true where celibacy is concerned.

There was broad disagreement with Pius XI’s 1930 encyclical on the matter. Pope Paul VI set up a study group of loyal and devout Catholics, lay and clerical, to make recommendations. The group overwhelmingly voted to change the teaching of Pius XI. But cardinals in the Roman Curia convinced Paul that any change would suggest that the church’s teachings are not eternal (though Casti Connubii had not been declared infallible, by the papacy’s own standards).

When Paul reaffirmed the ban on birth control in Humanae Vitae (1968) there was massive rejection of it. Some left the church. Some just ignored it. Paradoxically, the document formed to convey the idea that papal teaching is inerrant just convinced most people that it can be loony. The priest-sociologist Andrew Greeley said that Humanae Vitae did more damage to the papacy than any of the so-called “liberal” movements in Catholicism. When Pius IX condemned democracy and modern science in his Syllabus of Errors (1864), the Catholic historian Lord Acton said that Catholics were too sensible to go crazy every time a pope does. The reaction to Humanae Vitae proves that.

The Phony “Undying Principle” Argument

Rick Santorum is a nice smiley fanatic. He does not believe in evolution or global warming or women in the workplace. He equates gay sex with bestiality (Rick “Man on Dog” Santorum). He equates contraception with the guillotine. Only a brain-dead party could think him a worthy presidential candidate. Yet he is praised by television pundits, night and day, for being “sincere” and “standing by what he believes.” He is the principled alternative to the evil Moderation of Mitt Romney and the evil Evil of Newt Gingrich. He is presented as a model Catholic. Torquemada was, in that sense, a model Catholic. Messrs. Boehner and McConnell call him a martyr to religious freedom. A young priest I saw on television, modeling himself on his hero Santorum, said, “I would rather die than give up my church’s principles.” What we are seeing is not a defense of undying principle but a stampede toward a temporarily exploitable lunacy. Acton to the rescue!

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic victims claim new betrayal

A SUPPORT group set up by the Catholic Church to counsel victims of clerical sexual abuse is being investigated over allegations of mistreatment and breaches of patient confidentiality.

At least seven victims of sexual assaults by Catholic priests are believed to have lodged formal complaints against staff of the group, Carelink, with the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency.

Carelink was established by the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne as part of its Melbourne Response in 1996, which was the church’s internal structure to deal with hundreds of sexual assault cases across Victoria.
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A letter seen by The Sunday Age confirms that Carelink is the subject of an investigation by the Psychology Board of Australia on behalf of the regulator.

Some victims have claimed Carelink counsellors failed to deliver the psychological and pastoral support they required, which in some cases had exacerbated their suffering. The Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne ”categorically rejects” the allegations.

Jim Boyle, 71, has filed a complaint on behalf of himself and his deceased brother Gavan Boyle, who was raped at a Shoreham camp by Monsignor Penn Jones, a former chaplain of the Archdiocese of Melbourne who died in 1995. Gavan Boyle died in 2005 from a combination of alcohol abuse, starvation and undiagnosed cancer, while Jim Boyle has battled poor health and the mental anguish of witnessing his brother’s struggle.

Mr Boyle says Carelink staff had blamed Gavan for his inability to cope with the psychological trauma caused by sexual abuse. He says Carelink also failed to offer him appropriate support after his brother’s death. In his complaint, Mr Boyle claims he was discriminated against when he began to investigate the treatment of his brother.

He also alleges that Carelink breached professional confidentiality when it referred private information to the archdiocese’s lawyer. Mr Boyle says he has never threatened legal action against Carelink or the church.

Another victim, who asked not to be named, has also filed a complaint with the regulator, after suffering chronic depression for decades. The 66-year-old woman says she was raped by a Jesuit brother in 1978 while undergoing treatment for anorexia at a Melbourne hospital. She claims Carelink had ignored her since June last year, when she severed ties with a psychologist who was appointed and paid for by the support agency.

”I wish I’d never gone to them [Carelink]. I feel like I’ve been betrayed by the church again,” the woman said.

A spokesman for the Archdiocese of Melbourne rejected the specific allegations made by Mr Boyle and the unnamed victim. The spokesman said similar claims by Mr Boyle had been investigated and dismissed by the former Psychologists Registration Board of Victoria. Mr Boyle does not deny this.

”The services provided by Carelink are of the highest professional standard,” the archdiocese spokesman said. ”The majority of victims are satisfied with the assistance they receive, whilst it is acknowledged that no amount of support can ever wholly undo the wrongs perpetrated upon them. It is inevitable that a small number of victims will be dissatisfied with and be critical of the archdiocese’s attempts to help them.

”On various occasions in the past, allegations have been made against the Melbourne Response and Carelink in particular which have been examined by various external bodies and rejected.”

The spokesman said the church’s lawyers only became involved when Carelink had to respond to legal threats or demands by clients or their lawyers.

Helen Last, director of victim advocacy group In Good Faith, said some victims were reluctant to seek help through Carelink but had to because they could not afford private psychologists.

A spokeswoman for the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency said it could not comment on any ongoing investigations.

RComplete Article HERE!

200 priests suspected of abuse living in California, victims’ lawyer says

Some 200 Catholic priests suspected of sexual abuse are living undetected in communities across California, according to an attorney who represents hundreds of plaintiffs who sued the LA Archdiocese alleging molestation they say was inflicted on them by priests and clergy of the church.

Ray Boucher has mapped 60 locations where suspect priests live, in cities and towns from northern to southern California, and provided those locations to NBC4 exclusively.

“Many if not all these priests have admitted to sexual abuse,” Boucher said. “They live within a mile of 1,500 playgrounds, schools and daycare centers.”

Since none of the priests has actually been convicted of sex abuse, none can be identified under Megan’s Law, or their whereabouts revealed in related public databases.

“What the issue is here, is how you weigh the right of the people,” said Boucher, who is also one of the attorneys representing students in the Miramonte Elementary School sex abuse scandal. “In particular the right of children to be protected from molestation versus the right of privacy.”

‘Public is often too squeamish’
Among Boucher’s many clients in the church action are Manuel Vega and Dan Smith.

Vega is a former police officer from Oxnard who took special interest in sex crimes investigations because, he says, he was sexually abused as a teenager by his parish priest.

“He forced me to masturbate while he took pictures of me,” said Vega, who believes that the public is often too squeamish to recognize what child molestation actually entails – and thus not properly outraged by it.

“When we talk about sexual abuse we’re talking about sodomy,” he said. “There’s pubic hair, there’s sweat, there’re smells, there’re grunts.”
Dan Smith, another alleged abuse victim, is reeling from the recent collapse of his marriage which he blames in part on the psychological effects of the molestation he says he suffered as a child – at the hands of his local parish priest.

“He would rape me and then say this is what God’s love feels like,” Smith said, struggling to hold back tears more than twenty years after the alleged incidents.

Both men helped make legal history by joining 500 other plaintiffs in suing the LA Archdiocese for sexual molestation, with Boucher as their lead attorney.

In 2007 the LA Archdiocese reached an unprecedented $660 million settlement with many of the plaintiffs without admitting any wrong-doing.
It also agreed to let the courts decide which of the case-related church files should be made public, including those identifying alleged and admitted predators.

But according to Boucher and court documents, the Catholic Church has since engaged in a cover-up. By Boucher’s account, church officials allowed priests suspected of sexually abusing children to retire, flee the country or hide in rehab clinics until the statute of limitations on prosecution ran out.

“What the church did is take these guys and send them off to facilities where they treat pedophile priests without ever alerting police,” Boucher said. “By enabling these priests to be hidden for so many years the church protected them from being prosecuted.”

Priests’ attorney: ‘That’s not fair’
Meanwhile legal disputes delayed the release of the promised personnel files, and Donald Steir, an attorney for several priests, went to court to argue that those who’ve been accused but not convicted should have their names and privacy protected.

“They are being punished as if they have been convicted, or at least that’s the desire – to punish them,” Steir said. “That’s not fair.”
“It’s difficult if you represent an alleged terrorist or a pedophile, because people don’t really care about the rights [including privacy rights] for these type of people,” Steir said. “But once we erode the rights of a group of people we don’t like, we effectively have started down a path where other people’s rights can be similarly denied.”

The courts, expressing concern for children, overruled most of these arguments and similar ones by the Archdiocese, which declined to comment for this story.

And a judge has ordered release of some personnel files, set for some time in the coming weeks. But he also credited the church for its increased sensitivity in dealing with molestation cases and decided to withhold the names of church officials who handled the earlier cases.

It is a ruling that reminds Boucher of the breakdown in accountability in the Penn state pedophile scandal.

“Look at Penn State and see how important and significant it is when people in authority enable sexual abusers to continue,” Boucher said. “That underscores how significant it is to get these names out.”

Under the judge’s ruling the church can also keep secret, subject to further court review, the names of priests who have not been convicted and who have only one or two allegations against them or have allegations disputed by the church.

To Smith that seems like a formula for further cover-up by church officials.

“If their interests were to protect the kids, they would have released the documents,” Smith said. “As a parent not knowing who your neighbor is — that is really scary.”

Many of these unidentified priests are included in Boucher’s location map.
“The danger,” said Vega, “is that you have a person who has this sickness in them who is amongst the children.”

The plaintiffs in the church scandal are planning to appeal the latest rulings to assure broader disclosure of suspects’ names and locations. But Boucher warned this could take time, allowing suspects to keep their privacy protected, as well as their undetected presence in neighborhoods across California.

Complete Article HERE!