01/30/14

Minnesota Catholic Church Leaders Cover Abuse With Cash

File under:  Follow The Money

 

by Robert Lawson

Catholic church leaders in Minnesota were investigated by Minnesota Public Radio (MPR), who alleges that the church embezzled funds to cover child abuse and other misconduct with church cash, sources in the Twin Cities report. The investigation cited internal church documents to make their case that leaders of the Catholic church, such as the Archdiocese in the Twin Cites (Minneapolis/Saint Paul), paid millions of dollars to keep secrets quiet.

Minnesota-Catholic-Church-Leaders-Cover-Abuse-with-Cash-450x337MPR reported that the church had several secret accounts that led to financial abuse in the system. The accounts were used for payoffs for people like Rev. Stanley Kozlak, who fathered a child. Kozlak received payoffs for rent and living until he reached the age to retire on social security benefits. The internal documents in the church indicate that part of the agreement held that Kozlak would still be a priest, the Archbishop would have to sign a letter that states Kozlak isn’t a pedophile and that there would be negotiated child support. Over the course of nine years, from 2002 to 2011, the accounts had been used repeatedly and paid out around $11 million. That amounts to about three percent of revenue for that time period.

The efforts by the Catholic church to deal with clergy problems is staggering. Money was used to quietly allow some to leave their ministries. This strategy proved to be the back door to embezzlement within their secretly constructed financial system. Legal costs and therapy were also listed expenditures. In one instance, a private investigator was hired and paid more than $1o0,000 the Rochester Post Bulletin reported via Associated Press (AP). The Minnesota Catholic church leaders investigated appeared to have decided it was easier to cover up the problems with cash, but other abuse followed and it proved to be an expensive strategy.

The archdiocese made a statement on Thursday to address news of the investigation by MPR. They said they already hired a new CFO in December of 2012 to improve transparency, according to the report in the Post Bulletin. There are no government regulators that the Catholic church leaders are accountable to and the archbishop can spend money how he sees fit. There is a council that advises him, however. There will be a full audit completed by February.

MPR investigated to find that these payments, referred to as “disability” in the ledger account, were paid to victims and clergy. MPR reported a culture that kept many secrets within the walls of the Catholic church. Once accountant already pleaded guilty to stealing around $650,000 in cash from the church during these activities. He said people there knew what questions not to ask.

The MPR report and investigation also reveals the plump and healthy financial condition of the church, which has been infused with revenue over a five-year time span. Their operating revenue was up to around $40 million up to the point of 2011. Cash levels and assets grew as well, but now the Catholic church faces pressure from legal circumstances. The Minnesota Catholic church leaders tried to cover abuse with cash only to find more abuse and the threat of losing that very cash.

Complete Article HERE!

01/22/14

Chicago Catholic archdiocese releases documents detailing cover-up of abuse

Settlement between archdiocese and victims reveals decades of evasion and bungled action by church officials

 

By Karen McVeigh

Thousands of pages of previously secret documents relating to the abuse of children by Roman Catholic priests in the archdiocese of Chicago was published on Tuesday, detailing the faltering response of senior clerics who routinely swept allegations under the carpet despite clear evidence of wrongdoing.

Cardinal-BernadineSome 6,000 documents, released as part of a settlement with victims, shed a light on how allegations against priests were acknowledged within the church leadership, but were kept secret as those accused of abuses were shuttled from one parish to another.

Many of the documents describe how church leaders, including the late cardinals John Cody and Joseph Bernardin , would approve the reassignments.

One document, from the vicar for priests in April 1990, warned a church leader not to mention “rumours that have been circulating for the last 10 years” concerning Mark Holihan, a pastor, and “especially to say nothing at all” about an allegation by a cook at the church that she had witnessed him in bed with a young boy.

The same file shows that, four years earlier, Cardinal Bernadin had received a letter warning him of a “potentially dangerous situation” regarding the sexual activities of Holihan and “little boys”. The letter specified an incident regarding “my closest friend’s son” who said he had witnessed Holihan molesting an altar boy. The altar boy later told his mother.

Holihan, who was known by students as “Happy Hands Holilhan”, was subjected to restrictions after the accusations, but was not removed from public ministry until 2002. He was never defrocked by the archdiocese and “laicised himself” in 2008, the documents show.

The documents cover only 30 of at least 65 clergy for whom the archdiocese has substantiated claims of child abuse. The names of victims have been redacted, Vatican documents related to the 30 cases were not included, under the negotiated terms of the disclosure.

The records also do not include the files of Daniel McCormack, a former priest who pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children. McCormack’s case drew an apology from Cardinal Francis George and an internal investigation of how the archdiocese responds to abuse claims.

Marc Pearlman, one of two attorneys acting for victims of abuse by Catholic priests, said at a press conference that the documents reveal the leadership at the archdiocese of Chicago was involved in the “systematic cover-up” of abuse.

Each file, said Pearlman, “shows the same story: reported abuse, reported allegations, the archdiocese working hard to cover-up and keep it secret. The transfer of the priests.”

Taken together, they demonstrated a concern, not for the abused, but that the public would find out that their priests were abusive, he said. “They knew precisely what they were doing,” said Pearlman. “They were not mistakes.”

Among the documents are relatively recent letters from Cardinal George to Norbert Maday, who is in prison serving a 20 year sentence, after being found guilty in 1994 for child sex abuse and threatening witnesse. He was informed by George in a letter written two years later that he would not be dismissed from the clerical state. “You have suffered enough by your present deprivation of ministry and your incarceration,” George wrote.

Another letter from George to Maday, on 4 February 2002,informs him that the archdiocese had tried, unsuccessfully “a number of avenues to see if your senten ce might be reduced or parole be given early”.

Cardinal George apologised to victims and Catholics, in a letter distributed to parishes last week. He and said the archdiocese agreed to turn over the records in an attempt to help the victims heal.

On Tuesday, he released a statement, saying it knows it “made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify” and that society has evolved in how it deals with abuse. George said that while the detail in the documents is “upsetting” and “painful to read”, it is “not the Church we know or the Church we want to be”.

The statement, which apologised to the victims and their families, read:

The Archdiocese acknowledges that its leaders made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify. They made those decisions in accordance with the prevailing knowledge at the time. In the past 40 years, society has evolved in dealing with matters related to abuse. Our understanding of and response to domestic violence, sexual harassment, date rape, and clerical sexual abuse have undergone significant change and so has the Archdiocese of Chicago. While we complied with the reporting laws in place at the time, the Church and its leaders have acknowledged repeatedly that they wished they had done more and done it sooner, but now are working hard to regain trust, to reach out to victims and their families, and to make certain that all children and youth are protected.

Officials in the archdiocese said most of the abuse in the released files occurred before 1988, that none occurred after 1996 and that all the cases were ultimately reported to authorities.

The lawyers for the victims said that many of the allegations emerged after George headed the diocese in 1997. Some of the documents, in particular a letter from George to Maday in 2002, clearly related to how the church handled cases much more recently.

Complete Article HERE!

01/22/14

Chicago Archdiocese hid abuse for decades, documents show

Soft peddling bullshit:  The archdiocese released a statement Tuesday saying it knows it “made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify” and that society has evolved in how it deals with abuse.

 

After a 13-year-old boy reported in 1979 that a priest raped him and threatened him at gunpoint to keep quiet, the Archdiocese of Chicago assured the boy’s parents that although the cleric avoided prosecution, he would receive treatment and have no further contact with minors.

But the Rev. William Cloutier, who already had been accused of molesting other children, was returned to ministry a year later and was accused of more abuse before he resigned in 1993, two years after the boy’s parents filed a lawsuit. John_Cody

Officials took no action against Cloutier over his earliest transgressions because he “sounded repentant,” according to internal archdiocese documents released Tuesday that show how the archdiocese tried to contain a mounting scandal over child sexual abuse.

For decades, those at the highest levels of the nation’s third-largest archdiocese moved accused priests from parish to parish while hiding the clerics’ histories from the public.

The documents, released through settlements between attorneys for the archdiocese and victims, describe how the late Cardinals John Cody and Cardinal Joseph Bernardin often approved the reassignments.

The archdiocese removed some priests from ministry, but often years or decades after the clergy were known to have molested children.

While disturbing stories of clergy sexual abuse have wrenched the Roman Catholic Church across the globe, the newly released documents offer the broadest look yet into how one of its largest and most prominent American dioceses responded to the scandal.

The documents, posted online Tuesday, cover only 30 of the at least 65 clergy for whom the archdiocese says it has substantiated claims of child abuse. Vatican documents related to the 30 cases were not included, under the negotiated terms of the disclosure.

The records also didn’t include the files of former priest Daniel McCormack, who pleaded guilty in 2007 to abusing five children and whose case prompted an apology from Cardinal Francis George and an internal investigation of how the archdiocese responds to abuse claims.

But the more than 6,000 pages include internal communications between church officials, disturbing testimony about specific abuses, meeting schedules where allegations were discussed, and letters from anguished parishioners.

The names of victims, and details considered private under mental health laws were redacted.

In a letter distributed to parishes last week, Cardinal George apologized to victims and Catholics, and said the archdiocese agreed to turn over the records in an attempt to help the victims heal.cardinalgeorge

The archdiocese released a statement Tuesday saying it knows it “made some decisions decades ago that are now difficult to justify” and that society has evolved in how it deals with abuse.

“The Church and its leaders have acknowledged repeatedly that they wished they had done more and done it sooner, but now are working hard to regain trust, to reach out to victims and their families, and to make certain that all children and youth are protected,” the statement read.

Officials in the archdiocese said most of the abuse detailed in the files released Tuesday occurred before 1988, none after 1996, and that all these cases ultimately were reported to authorities.

But victims’ lawyers argue many of the allegations surfaced after George assumed control of the archdiocese in 1997, and some of the documents relate to how the church handled the cases more recently.

“The issue is not when the abuse happened; the issue is what they did once it was reported,” said Chicago attorney Marc Pearlman, who has represented about 200 victims of clergy abuse in the Chicago area.

When a young woman reported in 1970 that she’d been abused as a teen, for example, Cody assured the priest that the “whole matter has been forgotten” because “no good can come of trying to prove or disprove the allegations.”

Accused priests often were quietly sent away for a time for treatment or training programs, the documents show. When the accused clerics returned, officials often assigned them to new parishes and asked other priests to monitor them around children.

In one 1989 letter to Bernardin, the vicar for priests worries about parishioners discovering the record of the Rev. Vincent E. McCaffrey, who was moved four times because of abuse allegations.

“Unfortunately, one of the key parishioners … received an anonymous phone call which made reference by name to Vince and alleged misconduct on his part with young boys,” wrote vicar for priests, the Rev. Raymond Goedert. “We all agreed that the best thing would be for Vince to move. We don’t know if the anonymous caller will strike again.”

When the archdiocese tried to force accused clergy into treatment or isolate them at church retreats, some of the priests refused, or ignored orders by church administrators to stay away from children.

Church officials worried about losing parishioners and “potential priests” over abuse scandals. “This question I believe is going to get stickier and stickier,” Patrick O’Malley, then-vicar for priests, wrote in a 1992 letter.

Then, in 2002, a national scandal about dioceses’ failures to stop abusers consumed the American church. U.S. bishops nationwide adopted a toughened disciplinary policy and pledged to remove all guilty priests from church jobs in their dioceses.

But for many victims, it was too little and too late.

“Where was the church for the victims of this sick, demented, twisted pedophile?” one man wrote in a 2002 letter to George about abuse at the hands of the Rev. Norbert Maday, who was imprisoned in Wisconsin after a 1994 conviction for molesting two boys.

“Why wasn’t the church looking out for us? We were children, for God’s sake.”

Complete Article HERE!

01/20/14

Spain’s new cardinal says homosexuality a ‘defect’

Pope Francis’ newly chosen Spanish cardinal, 84-year-old Fernando Sebastian Aguilar, has described homosexuality as a “defect” that can be corrected with treatment, sparking condemnation from gay rights groups.

Fernando Sebastian Aguilar

“A lot of people complain and don’t tolerate it but with all respect I say that homosexuality is a defective way of manifesting sexuality, because that has a structure and a purpose, which is procreation,” Sebastian told Malaga newspaper Sur.

The interview was published Sunday, a week after the Spaniard was named as one of 19 new cardinals chosen by the pope, to be officially appointed February 22.

“We have a lot of defects in our bodies. I have high blood pressure. Am I going to get angry because they tell me that? It is a defect I have that I have to correct as far as I can,” said Sebastian, who is the archbishop emeritus of the northern city of Pamplona.

“Pointing out a defect to a homosexual is not an offence, it is a help because many cases of homosexuality can be recovered and normalised with adequate treatment. It is not an offence, it is esteem. When someone has a defect, the good friend is the one who tells him.”

The archbishop was asked in the interview if he shared the view of Pope Francis, who said in July last year: “If someone is gay and seeks the Lord with good will, who am I to judge?”

The Spanish archbishop, who, because of his age, will not hold a vote in the conclave that elects pontiffs, said the pope shows respect to all people but is not changing the teaching of the Church.

“It is one thing to show welcome and affection to a homosexual person and another to morally justify the exercise of homosexuality,” he said.

Gay and lesbian rights group Colegas called on the archbishop to retract his comment.

“We hope that Fernando Sebastian will correct his words and we note that homosexuality is not a curable disease, but homophobia is,” it said in a statement.

Nicolas Fernandez, head of the Malaga-based gay and lesbian rights group Entiende, added his condemnation.

“It is not the first time the cardinals have said we are defective,” he said, calling for non-discrimination legislation that would condemn such “repugnant” statements.

Complete Article HERE!

01/17/14

Pope defrocked 400 priests in 2 years, per Vatican document obtained by AP

File under:  Absolutely Astonishing!

 

A document obtained by The Associated Press shows Pope Benedict XVI defrocked nearly 400 priests over just two years for molesting children.

BenedictThe statistics for 2011-12 show a dramatic increase over the 170 priests removed in 2008 and 2009, when the Vatican first provided details on the number of priests who have been defrocked. Prior to that, it had only revealed the number of alleged cases of sexual abuse it had received.

The document was prepared from data the Vatican had been collecting to help the Holy See defend itself before a U.N. committee this week in Geneva.

Archbishop Silvano Tomasi, the Vatican’s U.N. ambassador in Geneva, referred to just one of the statistics in the course of eight hours of oftentimes pointed criticism and questioning from the U.N. human rights committee. The AP obtained the document Friday.