Vatican convicts ex-Guam archbishop accused of abuse

In this Nov. 2014 file photo, Archbishop Anthony Apuron stands in front of the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral Basilica in Hagatna, Guam. The Vatican said Friday March 16, 2018, it had convicted the suspended Guam archbishop, who was accused of sexually abusing minors, financial mismanagement and other charges, but didn’t say exactly what crimes he had committed.

The Vatican on Friday removed the suspended Guam archbishop from office and ordered him not to return to the island after convicting him of some charges in a sex abuse trial.

The Vatican didn’t say what exactly Archbishop Anthony Apuron had been convicted of, and the sentence was far lighter than sentences handed down against high-profile elderly prelates found guilty of molesting minors. It amounts to an early retirement anywhere in the world but Guam, a remote U.S. Pacific territory.

Apuron, 72, is just shy of the retirement age of 75.

The Vatican spokesman declined to comment. Calls placed to the tribunal judge weren’t answered. Apuron’s whereabouts weren’t immediately known, but he was in Rome last month.

Pope Francis named a temporary administrator for Guam in 2016 after Apuron was accused by former altar boys of sexually abusing them when he was a priest. Dozens of cases involving other priests on the island have since come to light, and the archdiocese is facing more than $115 million in civil lawsuits alleging child sexual abuse at the hands of priests.

Apuron strongly denied the charges and said he was a victim of a “calumny” campaign. He wasn’t criminally charged. The statute of limitations had expired.

A statement from the tribunal in the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, which handles sex abuse cases, said Apuron had been convicted of some of the accusations against him. It said he had been ordered removed from office and could no longer live in the archdiocese of Guam.

The conviction and sentence can be appealed. If Apuron appeals, the penalties are suspended until the case is resolved.

In the past, when an elderly or infirm priest has been convicted by the Vatican of sexually abusing minors, he has often been removed from ministry and sentenced to a lifetime of “penance and prayer.” Younger priests convicted of abuse have been defrocked, removed from ministry or forbidden from presenting themselves as priests.

Pope Francis, however, has intervened in a handful of cases to lower sentences, and there are several high-ranking prelates in the Vatican who oppose defrocking convicted molesters and have long lobbied for more lenient sentences against their brother priests.

In the case of Apuron, no restrictions on his ministry as a priest were announced in the Vatican statement.

An ailing, wheelchair-bound Apuron greeted Francis at the end of the pope’s Feb. 7 general audience.

The Catholic community on Guam has been convulsed by the Apuron scandal, with weekly protests also involving accusations of grave financial problems in the archdiocese and the purchase of a valuable property by Apuron for a diocesan seminary that he actually turned over to a controversial Catholic movement to run.

A lay group that agitated for Apuron’s removal, “Concerned Catholics of Guam,” was decisive in pushing for an investigation into the archdiocesan seminary, which Apuron opened in 1999 and moved to an 18-acre (seven-hectare) property thanks to a $2 million anonymous donation.

A Vatican-backed inquiry into the seminary found that the property’s control had effectively been transferred to the Neochatechumenal Way administrators without Vatican approval.

The seminary controversy came to a head when the Carmelite order of religious sisters revealed it had provided the $2 million donation, but said the money had been intended for an archdiocesan seminary to train diocesan priests, not a Neocatechumenal Way seminary to train missionaries.

In a remarkable 2016 news conference to denounce the transfer, Carmelite Mother Superior Dawn Marie came out of her cloister and announced that her small community of nuns had left the island after a 50-year presence because of the “toxic environment” created by the controversy.


Mary McAleese says her brother was ‘seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finnegan’

“My mother, almost 90 years of age, had to discover that from the Belfast Telegraph three weeks ago.”

By Paul Hosford

FORMER IRISH PRESIDENT Mary McAleese has defended her comments about the Catholic Church’s attitudes to women, while revealing her brother was abused by a priest.

Speaking in Rome last week, McAleese said that she believed women should be ordained as priests.

“Pope Francis has said that the issue of women’s ordination isn’t up for discussion, that women are permanently excluded from priesthood.

“I believe that women should be ordained, I believe the theology on which that is based is pure codology. I’m not even going to be bothered arguing it. Sooner or later it’ll fall apart, fall asunder under its own dead weight.”

She said that many in the Church had made Jesus Christ a “rather unattractive politician who is just misogynistic and homophobic and anti-abortion”.

The former President, a devout Catholic, today defended those comments and spelled out her frustrations with the Catholic Church. In a wide-ranging, emotional interview she told Sean O’Rourke on RTÉ Radio One that she felt free to make the comments.

“I’m asking you a question now – do you think there’s a book somewhere – have you seen a book of phrases that are appropriate for ex-Presidents to use?

“I don’t think there is. I’m not speaking as a President or ex-President, I’m speaking as a member of the church.

“My church tells me I have a duty to offer my opinion on matters that I believe are for the good of the church.”

McAleese said that women had “drifted” from the church and said that the church would “pay a price for that”.

She said the hierarchical church needed a major overhaul, but paid tribute to the pastoral church, which she said was “infused with love”.


McAleese became upset when asked about Malachy Finnegan. Fr Malachy Finnegan, who died in 2002, was a teacher at St Colman’s College in Newry from 1967 to 1976. Abuse claims against him were detailed in a BBC Spotlight programme in February. The revelation that John McAreavey had officiated at the funeral mass of Finnegan led to his resignation as bishop of Dromore earlier this month.

McAleese said that Finnegan’s abuse had touched her family.

My youngest brother, my baby brother, the youngest of nine children, was seriously, physically, sadistically abused by Malachy Finnegan.

My mother, almost 90 years of age, had to discover that from the Belfast Telegraph three weeks ago.

“My wonderful and so loved brother…to think that he never felt he could tell anyone…”

McAleese said that the abuse went on for her brother’s entire time at the school.

“The first complaints about Malachy Finnegan go back to the 1970s, which means there is a body of evidence of people able to do something about this, but didn’t.”

She said that there is “very serious questions to be asked” and said that it “shouts for an inquiry”.

The 8th

She went on to say that she believes that the debate on Eighth Amendment should take heed of the opinions of obstetricians who believe the law fails in its stated aims of protecting women.

She said that “at the moment” that testimony is “quite compelling” and has raised questions for her. However she said it was “infinitely more complicated” than the same-sex marriage debate.

“I would say very strongly that we’re being offered two models – a medical intervention model and it may very well be that that is so tightly drawn that obstetricians say a mother’s life is at stake.

“The move to a non-medical model – where a foetus is healthy – is quite a jump for the Irish people. But that is a matter for the Oireachtas.

She said that she had a “lot of reading to do” before the vote, but said that she would not be involved in the campaign in any way.

Complete Article HERE!


Catholic women urge pope to tear down Church’s ‘walls of misogyny’

Ireland’s President Mary McAleese, accompanied by her husband Martin McAleese, poses for a picture with orphaned girls during her visit to Tibnin Orphanage, southern Lebanon, October 15, 2011.

by Philip Pullella

Roman Catholic women led by former Irish president Mary McAleese demanded a greater decision-making role for women in the Church on Thursday, urging Pope Francis to tear down its “walls of misogyny”.

McAleese was the key speaker at a symposium of Catholic women called “Why Women Matter”, attended by hundreds of people and followed by many others around the world via web-streaming.

The Women’s Day event was held at the headquarters of the Jesuit religious order after the Vatican withdrew permission for it to be held inside its walls when organizers added controversial speakers without its permission.

McAleese, who supports gay marriage and the ordination of women as priests, joked about the change of venue to a location just a block away from the Vatican walls, saying: “I hope all their hearing aids are turned on today”.

She said the Church’s ban on a female priesthood had “locked women out of any significant role in the Church’s leadership, doctrinal development and authority structure”.

The Church teaches that women cannot be ordained priests because Jesus chose only men as his apostles. Those calling for women priests say he was only following the norms of his time.

“We are here to shout, to bring down our Church’s walls of misogyny,” she said, adding that the Church’s position on keeping women in a subordinate role to men had “kept Christ out and bigotry in”.

“How long can the hierarchy sustain the credibility of a God who wants things this way, who wants a Church where women are invisible and voiceless in Church leadership?” she said in her address. McAleese was Irish president between 1997 and 2011.

Many women, she said, “experience the Church as a male bastion of patronizing platitudes, to which Pope Francis has added his quota”.

The pope has promised to put more women in senior positions in the Vatican but critics say he is moving too slowly.

Other women speakers included Zuzanna Radzik, a Catholic theologian from Poland, who described the struggle to make priests and bishops in her homeland take her seriously as an intellectual on a par with men.

Many in the audience were nuns, who cheered on the speakers who demanded more rights for women in the Church.

Last week, a Vatican magazine denounced widespread exploitation of nuns for cheap or free labor in the Roman Catholic Church, saying the male hierarchy should stop treating them like lowly servants.

The article in the monthly “Women, Church, World”, remarkable for an official Vatican publication, described the drudgery of nuns who cook, clean and wait on tables for cardinals, bishops and priests.

Complete Article HERE!


Priests’ group demands Martin statement over editing of video

Words of welcome for gay people from Cork-born bishop removed from promo clip

Bishop David O’Connell speaking in the original version of a video promoting the World Meeting of Families 2018.

By Patsy McGarry

The Association of Catholic Priests has said it find it “impossible to understand” why words of Auxiliary Bishop of Los Angeles had been edited out of a promotional video for the World Meeting of Families 2018.

It has called on Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin, who is hosting the event which will take place at the end of August, to issue a statement clarifying the matter.

Words of welcome from the Cork-born Bishop David O’Connell for gay people raising children and people in second marriages were removed from the video.

“Pope Francis, he gets it. Today there are all sorts of configurations of families – mum and dad; mum or dad on their own; gay couple raising children; people in second marriages,” he said. These have been cut.

A spokeswoman for the World Meeting of Families 2018 has insisted however that everyone will be welcome to the event which is being hosted by Archbishop of Dublin Diarmuid Martin at the end of August next.

She noted how, in Amoris laetitia, “Pope Francis specifically stresses that ‘every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration’ . . . as is repeated throughout the parish programme.

“The meeting has always been understood as a meeting open to all. This remains the position of the World Meeting of Families in Dublin.”

In a statement on Tuesday, the association, which represents between a third and a half of Catholic priests in Ireland, said it was concerned that “following the earlier removal of photographs from a leaflet, the organisers of the World Meeting of Families have now also removed the words of Bishop O’Connell” from their promotional video.

“His words were such that we find it impossible to understand how anyone who supports the message of PopeFrancis could object to them.”

It was the case that “no clear statement has been made as to why these actions were taken, and on whose direction. Both leave themselves open to interpretations which are very damaging to the WMOF.”

It asked: “Who is making the decisions? Where is the funding coming from? Has the source of the funding anything to do with the decisions being made?

“Without clear explanations, questions like these, and many others, will continue to be asked.”

The ACP concluded: “We believe that it is important that Archbishop Diarmuid Martin makes a statement clarifying why these two alterations were made, who decided on them, and why. Otherwise any further effect to present the WMOF as a welcoming place for everyone will be seen for what it is, empty rhetoric.”

Complete Article HERE!


Allegations about 40 gay priests in Italy sent to Vatican

A male escort told Italian media that he outed the priests because he couldn’t stand their hypocrisy any longer.

Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe

The archdiocese of Naples says it has sent the Vatican a 1,200-page dossier compiled by a male escort identifying 40 actively gay priests and seminarians in Italy.

In a statement on the diocesan website, Cardinal Crescenzio Sepe said none of the identified priests worked in Naples. But he said he decided to forward the file to the Vatican because “there remains the gravity of the cases for which those who have erred must pay the price, and be helped to repent for the harm done.”

The dossier, containing WhatsApp chats and other evidence, was compiled by a self-proclaimed gay escort, Francesco Mangiacapra. He has told Italian media that he outed the priests because he couldn’t stand their hypocrisy any longer.

None of the 34 priests or six seminarians was accused of having sex with minors, Mangiacapra was quoted as saying in the diocesan statement.

“We’re talking about sins, not crimes,” the escort was quoted as saying in the statement.

It’s the latest sex scandal to convulse the Italian church and the Vatican.

Last month, a Vatican judge pleaded guilty in a Rome tribunal to having child porn on his computer after police were brought in when he allegedly tried to fondle an 18-year-old man. Monsignor Pietro Amenta was a judge on the Roman Rota, the Holy See tribunal that hears marriage annulment cases, as well as a consulter to various Vatican congregations. He resigned after the plea deal, the Vatican said.

Complete Article HERE!