03/30/16

Money for refugees lost gambling, says Catholic Church in London, Ont.

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A Chaldean Catholic church says he lost the money gambling, according to church officials.

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Father Amer Saka, a priest working at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, Ont., is under investigation after telling his bishop, Emanuel Shaleta, that funds intended to help new Canadians had instead vanished in vice, Shaleta said.

Father Amer Saka, a priest working at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, Ont., is under investigation after telling his bishop, Emanuel Shaleta, that funds intended to help new Canadians had instead vanished in vice, Shaleta said.

Police have launched an investigation into a Chaldean Catholic priest from London, Ont., after church officials reported more than $500,000 slated for refugee sponsorship was lost to gambling.

Father Amer Saka, a priest working at the St. Joseph Chaldean Catholic Church in London, is under investigation after telling his bishop, Emanuel Shaleta, that funds intended to help new Canadians had instead vanished in vice, Shaleta said.

“He called me on the phone and . . . said he lost all the money. I said, ‘How?’ He said, ‘Gambling,’” Shaleta told the Star on Saturday, referring to a conversation he said took place Feb. 23.

“We believe that Father Saka has a serious gambling problem and that these funds may have been used for that purpose,” he said. “Since there is an investigation going on, we cannot confirm what he’s saying.”

Shaleta, who sits at the head of Canada’s first and only Chaldean eparchy, or jurisdiction, said he suspended the priest immediately after learning of the missing money.

The bishop drove to London the next day to take Saka for several days of voluntary treatment at Southdown Institute, a non-profit facility north of Toronto for priests battling problems ranging from addiction to depression to sexually abusive behaviour.

London police confirmed they received a complaint Feb. 24 of alleged financial misappropriation related to the local parish.

“An investigation is underway,” said spokesperson Const. Sandasha Bough on March 15. The financial crimes probe was launched more than a week after the initial report, said police, who needed bank records before going further.

No charges have been laid. The allegations have not been proven in court.

The Star reached out to Saka through calls and letters to his church in London. A St. Joseph church representative said it is treating the situation “very seriously” but that comment would be “inappropriate” given an ongoing internal investigation.

The Chaldean Catholic Church is based in Baghdad and represents Catholics from Iraq and neighbouring countries, but ultimately falls under the watch of the Holy See in the Vatican.

The Toronto-based Chaldean eparchy is one of the Chaldean Catholic Church’s newest, founded with Pope Benedict XVI’s blessing less than five years ago as Iraqi immigrants continued to arrive in Canada. It encompasses several churches in Ontario, including St. Joseph.

Monsignor Murray Kroetsch, chancellor of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Hamilton, which runs the sponsorship program, said Saka was the leader of a constituent group raising funds to sponsor refugees from Iraq.

It’s one of about 30 parishes and parties to partner with the Hamilton diocese in the sponsorship agreement.

Kroetsch said the Hamilton diocese filed up to 20 applications sponsored by Saka for refugees from Iraq. About 10 of them have arrived in southern Ontario. With all now facing a potential void of financial backing, the Hamilton diocese has taken over responsibility for their support, Kroetsch said.

“We want to assure the refugees that our part of our agreement is looked after and that money will be provided to help them feel secure and help them find their footing in the country,” he said.

Holders of sponsorship agreements, signed with Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, must support refugees for at least the first year after their arrival.

“They’re somewhat vulnerable, and now they may be even more fearful . . . We need to assure them that we’re not just going to abandon them,” Kroetsch said.

Sponsorships cost about $6,000 a person, or about $20,000 to $25,000 for a family of four, said Shaleta.

“It is wrong for a priest to go and gamble. It’s against the rules,” said Shaleta.

The bishop said he informed parishioners — mostly northern Iraqi immigrants, many from communities now overrun by Daesh who are trying to bring family members to Canada — soon after the priest told Shaleta about the missing funds.

Complete Article HERE!

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03/30/16

Actor playing Jesus Fired from Sunday Parade for being ‘too gay’

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File Under:  We don’t want no sissy Jesus!

By Kyle Zabawa

sissy jesus

The actor was accused of “ostentation and parody” after showing a bare shoulder…

Ramón Fossati – an actor famed for his portrayal of Jesus Christ in traditional Spanish Easter parades for the past 30 years – has been allegedly banned from playing the part because he’s gay.

The Junta Mayor de Semana Santa Marinera, the ruling powers which organize the Holy Week celebrations, accused Ramón of “ostentation and parody,” after he exposed  a naked shoulder and excitable behaviour. They also believed he was giving “false blessings” to the crowd.

Ramón himself says that his actions were not intended to be disrespectful in the slightest. Explaining that his ensemble was in keeping with traditional religious paintings portraying Christ bare shouldered. The Times reports that he also modified his costume so only bare one shoulder could be shown, over fears that exposing both could prove too risqué.

Religious authorities strictly moderate Easter processions in Spain, with women in particular being fined for showing cleavage or for sporting dresses above the knee.

Although Ramón’s sexuality wasn’t brought up at the time of the ban, the Jesus Christ superstar suspects that it was because he’s gay: “It could be jealousy. Or maybe it was punishment for being gay. But everyone where I live knows my sexual orientation and it is not an issue.

“I am deeply religious and this is the worst thing that could happen.”

Having originally been fined €300 [£237] following the parade last year, Ramón’s fine was, thanks to an appeal, reduced to €60 [£47]. His ban is expected to stand until 2019.

Complete Article HERE!

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03/29/16

Secret archive of paedophile crime kept by Catholic Church’s insurers

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Victims of some of the worst sexual abuse perpetrated by the Catholic Church are being denied access to a vast archive of clergy crime, as the church continues to ensure the offending is kept secret, despite the files being handed over to the royal commission.

The nearly 2000 files – which include evidence about at least 63 offenders – have been amassed by the church’s insurers, but the church appears intent on paying millions of dollars in victims compensation settlements to ensure the documents are not made public.

Church keeps sex abuse files secret: Gerald Ridsdale outside court with George Pell.

Church keeps sex abuse files secret: Gerald Ridsdale outside court with George Pell.

Angry victims and their lawyers have called on Catholic Church Insurance Ltd to make the archive public to enable investigation of potential criminal cover-ups and to assist victims in dealing with their abuse and to seek compensation.

The information was collected in the 1990s as the insurance company took steps to manage the risk posed by an increasing number of victims coming forward to claim compensation.

The insurer’s inquiries aimed to determine exactly when church authorities were first alerted to a paedophile behaviour by clergy. The dates were vital as the insurer did not have to provide coverage for crimes committed after the date church authorities had official “knowledge” an individual was an abuser.

Convicted paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat.

Convicted paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale giving evidence at the Royal Commission into Institutional Response to Child Sexual Abuse in Ballarat.

Such information is also of extraordinary value to victims seeking to find out what the church knew about their alleged abuse and subsequent liability, as well as for criminal investigations into the concealment of crimes.

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse last week confirmed it has received the files, but declined to comment further about requests to make the information public.

Michael Glennon

Convicted paedophile and former Catholic priest Michael Glennon.

A spokeswoman for the Catholic Church referred all queries on the matter to the insurance company, while a spokesman for CCI said the insurer declined to comment.

During its 1990s efforts to obtain this information, Catholic Church Insurance called for specific complaints to be detailed and undertook its own investigations, often interviewing high-level church authorities about potential risks and the offenders who spoke freely as the information was considered highly confidential. Transcripts of the interviews were then filed away.

Dioceses were also asked to provide lists of potential offenders and the date the crimes were first reported to Catholic Church Insurance. Special forms titled “Special Issues Incident Report” were sent to dioceses to record specific instances of abuse.

“We need to have updated information on all matters which may give rise to criminal sexual misconduct. Your cooperation is requested in completing this form in relation to all known incidents which may later become subject to claims or litigation,” says the wording on one of the forms since made public.

Lawyers representing abuse victims say they now know to seek access to the documents using legal procedures, but when they zero in on particularly damning records, the church settles.

“The settlements have happened on dozens and dozens of occasions,” said lawyer Jason Parkinson from Porters Lawyers, which has run more than 800 cases against the church and is dealing with some 200 ongoing matters.

“Whenever we have been seeking documents that will assist their case against the Catholic Church, the insurance documents are never produced and whenever we get close the matters are settled,” he said. “The material we are after from the insurers are the records which show who and when, which priests and brothers were sexually assaulting children.

“The legal exceptions to providing that information should only be in relation to commercial-in-confidence and perhaps trademark protection but this relates to conspiracies to commit the most heinous of crimes short of manslaughter and murder – the sexual abuse of children.”

His call is backed by Anthony Foster whose two daughters Emma and Katie were raped by paedophile priest Kevin O’Donnell. Emma committed suicide, Katie is in a wheelchair after being hit by a car.

Mr Foster described it as “shocking” that the information was being kept secret.

“This should be made public. The whole sordid affair should be opened up. The more transparent it is the more victims will come forward,” he said. “This is all about providing openness, which is the opposite of how these crimes occurred in the first place – behind closed doors.”

Evidence of the archive first surfaced in the 2014 Victorian parliamentary inquiry into the handling of child abuse by religious and other organisations. Then Catholic Church Insurance boss Peter Rush admitted to the inquiry there was a list of clergy for which the insurer would not provide cover.

Mr Rush confirmed two names on the list were serial paedophiles Gerald Ridsdale and Father Michael Glennon. Ridsdale is serving eight years jail for abusing 53 children. Glennon died in prison after being sentenced to at least 10 years for abusing children as young as seven.

Mr Rush promised to provide the list to the inquiry but it has not been made public. The insurance company has refused to provide any details of the handover.

Further evidence of the extent of the archive has emerged in the ongoing Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, with various examples of the transcripts and forms posted publicly as exhibits.

Some provide examples of potential criminal cover-ups by those who were aware of crimes and shifted paedophiles to other areas where they continued their abuse.

One transcript held by Catholic Church Insurance is a 1993 interview with the then Bishop of Ballarat Ronald Mulkearns about Ridsdale.

Discussing responses to complaints about Ridsdale, the bishop describes the paedophile as “an extraordinarily talented fellow” and “an excellent pastor”. Bishop Mulkearns argues he was not responsible for Ridsdale going on to abuse more children because he had referred Ridsdale to a counsellor who then authorised him to return to duties.

Another example of the value of such information to victims can be found in a CCI document where the insurer’s representative interviews another priest about the activities of paedophile Father Ron Pickering.

That conversation reveals Pickering – who abused Victorian children and then escaped justice by fleeing to the United Kingdom – had substantial assets in Australia including a tenanted shop in Melbourne, a farm and a property in Victoria, and a house with five acres in Tasmania – something victims may have found important when seeking compensation.

An unreported crime is exposed in another insurance document relating to Father Barry Robinson who had admitted to abuse in the United States and Chile before being returned to Victoria and allowed to work as a fill-in priest as recently as 2010. When it emerged he was still working the church defended his work as a fill-in priest arguing Robinson had never been convicted.

A Catholic Church Insurance risk management claim form reveals Robinson had previously also confessed to sexually abusing a child in the United Kingdom – an unreported incident. Robinson died in 2014.

The full scale of the archive only became apparent last year when the royal commission openly made a specific request to access the files in relation to a number of dioceses and paedophiles of which the church “had prior knowledge”.

Catholic Church Insurance failed to meet the two-month deadline to provide the information. At a directions hearing in Sydney in July 2015, the commission heard there were 1960 files that related to 63 offenders.

Complete Article HERE!

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03/25/16

Church abuse survivor speaks out: ‘my parents trusted I was safe and I wasn’t’

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Mary Lynch

Mary Lynch

Eight women who were molested by a local priest as children have settled a lawsuit with the Seattle Archdiocese for $9.1 million.

The eight cases happened between 1968 and 1975, but attorneys say there’s the potential of many more cases involving former priest Michael Cody.

“When a priest gives you attention, you think it’s a really good thing — you’re special — and that’s really powerful,” said Mary Lynch, one of the women who settled with the church this week.

Lynch says 45 years ago, when she was just 8-years old, she was left alone several times with Cody, who her devout Catholic parents trusted faithfully and implicitly.

“I was put in a situation that my parents trusted I was safe and I wasn’t,” Lynch said.

She says Cody knew who to target .

“He was very good at manipulating the families that he should have been serving,” Lynch said.

Cody is one of 77 clergy the Seattle Archdiocese acknowledge sexually abused parishioners — abuse that goes back decades. In 1962 a priest wrote the Archbishop that “father Cody’s character is really pathological … he is now mentally and emotionally seriously sick.”

But the Archdiocese hid cody’s issues, moving him from parish to parish, from St. James in Seattle to Bellingham, LaConner, and eventually St. Charles in Burlington, where he met Lynch.

“If they hadn’t continued to move him from place to place, he would have never been at St. Charles in the first place,” Lynch said.

Lynch’s case is one of the eight settled this week for $9.1 million. All of the cases involved Cody.

“Now with this settlement we are hoping that they will find some measure of closure and hoping they will move forward in their lives,” said Greg Magnoni with the Seattle Archdiocese.

Lynch says she still has her faith, but she hasn’t been to church in 15 years. She says she’s speaking out to inspire others to do the same.

“He took away a lot of my self esteem, and you just have to kind of go to that raw core to move forward,” she said.

The settlement payouts come from church assets and liability insurance. Michael Cody was removed from the priesthood in 2005 and died last November in Las Vegas.

Complete Article HERE!

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03/24/16

‘Father Cody is dangerous’: Seattle Archdiocese settles sex abuse case for $9.1 million after damning letters surface

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Left: Michael Cody. Right: Jeri Hubbard.

Left: Michael Cody. Right: Jeri Hubbard.

After being sued by eight women who alleged they were molested by a priest four decades ago, the Seattle Archdiocese has settled for $9.1 million.

The settlement, reported by the Seattle Times, came Wednesday after a damning psychiatrist’s letter, among other documents, surfaced last year reporting Michael Cody, the priest at the center of the suit, was a pedophile who needed to “be removed from parish work as soon as possible.” The letter, part of correspondence among church officials expressing concerns about Cody, was written in 1962; the women were abused between 1968 and 1975.

“He told me that he was suffering from an abnormal sexual attraction toward young girls,” psychiatrist Albert M. Hurley wrote. “… He has molested at least eight girls twelve years of age or younger. As you know, there have been complaints about his hostility and temper in the various parishes where he has served. He also complains of feelings of severe depression, during which time he prays that God will allow him to die rather than continue this behavior.”

Hurley was explicit about his diagnosis, saying Cody was a pedophile who showed “sadistic tendencies” to boys he knew and talked of killing others and himself.

“It is likely that if external controls on his acting out are made, and this cycle of aggression and depression sufficiently interrupted, then he can once again assume a useful and productive life,” the psychiatrist wrote.

The interruption never came. Cody — who stopped serving as a priest in 1979, was defrocked in 2005 and died last year — served in a number of parishes in Washington state, where he “preyed on children for years,” as the Seattle Times put it. In a deposition in 2013, the priest, then 82, said estimating how many children he abused “would only be a guess.” In a 1988 mental-health evaluation, he said he had molested up to 40 girls and one boy.

“At a time when I didn’t feel special, he befriended me and made me feel special,” Jeri Hubbard, 63 — who Cody had sex with repeatedly when she was a troubled 16-year-old runaway living in his rectory — told the Seattle Times. “Instinctively, I kind of knew it wasn’t right. But I didn’t know what to do and I didn’t want him to get in trouble.” When she questioned the arrangement, Cody said her no one would believe her if she told them. (She settled with the archdiocese in a separate case last year.)

A psychiatrist’s letter about diagnosing Father Michael Cody with “pedophilia.”

A psychiatrist’s letter about diagnosing Father Michael Cody with “pedophilia.”

In the wake of the settlement, the archdiocese, as so many in the Catholic Church have, sought to put the past behind it — and find out if other victims are out there.

In January, the Archdiocese published a list of 77 priests, brothers, nuns and deacons accused of assaulting children while serving or living in Western Washington, the Seattle Times reported.

“Our first priority is the protection of children and healing for past victims,” Seattle Archbishop Peter Sartain said, as the Associated Press reported. “It is my firm commitment to build on the good efforts of the past and continue to take steps that will truly help victims of clergy sexual abuse to heal. This $9 million settlement demonstrates our ongoing commitment to acknowledge and address the devastating impact of clergy sexual abuse, and to encourage victims to come forward.”

An attorney for the women said the settlement prevents the archdiocese from facing the terrible details of the Cody case and from acknowledging that the priest remained on the job despite the fact an archbishop knew of his crimes.

“The evidence regarding Father Cody is overwhelming, and I don’t think the Archdiocese wants more bad publicity,” Michael T. Pfau said. “The direct involvement of former Archbishop Thomas Connelly in placing this pedophile in parishes with full knowledge of his danger to children is truly disturbing.”

The psychiatrist’s letter was part of a so-called “secret file” on Cody kept by the church. Advocates for those abused by priests say such files only contribute to a decades-old problem.

“These records illustrate a pattern of secrecy,” Mary Dispenza, Northwest director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests and herself a victim of clergy abuse, said earlier this month. “Most bishops are still dragging their feet about releasing them because they’ll be embarrassed or ashamed, and past bishops might be implicated.”

“I was pissed,” Hubbard, one of Cody’s victims, said when she learned of the file. “The church knew he was a pedophile years before he ever came … And they let that happen.”

Complete Article HERE!

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