02/19/17

Council Bluffs priest sentenced to register as sex offender, given probation

Attorney: Former St. Albert principal plans to appeal conviction

By Mike Bell

Rev. Paul Monahan

The Rev. Paul Monahan was sentenced Friday to a suspended prison sentence and ordered to register as a sex offender for all five counts of invasion of privacy after he turned down a deferred judgement.

Associate Judge Gary Anderson sentenced Monahan, 83, to a suspended sentence of 30 days in jail per each count to be served concurrently, a year of informal probation and to register as a sex offender for 10 years. A minimum fine was also suspended.

After the year of probation, Monahan will have be supervised for 10 years on special parole.

Monahan’s attorney, Dan McGinn, said his client plans to file an appeal over the conviction.

In December 2016, Monahan was found guilty after a bench trial of invading the privacy of five male high school students who said the retired priest looked at their genitals in a public restroom.

Monahan’s actions led to the judge’s conclusion Monahan intentionally violated the privacy rights of the boys, Anderson wrote in his decision.

In Iowa, invasion of privacy is an aggravated misdemeanor, which carries a maximum two-year prison sentence and/or a fine between $625 and $6,250.

Monahan is the former principal at St. Albert High School and a veteran priest in southwest Iowa. He did not take the stand during his trial, which was in November 2016.

During the trial, the students testified that while at a track meet at Treynor High School on April 4, 2016, Monahan had entered the restroom nine times and took a position at the urinal next to one of the teens despite others being open. They said he then stepped back and intentionally looked down at their genitals.

Monahan’s physician testified at the trial that his frequent visits to the restroom were because of a medical condition rather than any sexual desire. Monahan’s attorney, Bill McGinn, said during the trial that his client often looked down because of a “crick” in his neck.

Geoff Greenwood, a spokesman for the Iowa Attorney General’s Office, which prosecuted the case, could not be reached to comment on the sentencing. Dan McGinn declined to comment on the sentencing.

The Diocese of Des Moines issued a statement on the verdict Friday evening. The statement notes that Monahan was not required to undergo sex offender treatment and suggests the appeal could take at least a year.

Bishop Richard Pates called for “heartfelt prayers for all who have been affected by these proceedings.”

“We remember in these prayers the alleged victims, as well as Father Monahan, who is enduring severe stress, and any others who may have been affected,” Pates said in a statement. “For the benefit of all, we pray that the matter be resolved fully in minimum time.”

Complete Article HERE!

02/19/17

US groups question Vatican’s judge choice in Apuron trial

Members of the Catholic community stage a peaceful protest outside the Archdiocese of Agana chancery office in Hagatna on Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017. The protest was held in conjunction with a meeting between Roland Sondia and Vatican tribunal members at the chancery. Sondia previously announce that he was allegedly sexually assaulted by Archbishop Anthony Apuron in the 1970s when he served as an altar boy at an Agat church.

By Haidee V Eugenio

Two U.S.-based groups dealing with the Catholic clergy sex abuse cases worldwide are not happy with the Vatican’s choice on who will preside over Guam Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron’s canonical penal trial.

The Vatican sent Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke and other members of a tribunal to Guam to hear from witnesses in the trial of Apuron, who is accused of raping and sexually abusing altar boys in the 1970s. The Archdiocese of Agana, in a statement released late Saturday, said a team of four canon lawyers and another official from Rome worked here Feb. 16-17 and left the morning of Feb. 18.

“From what we know of Burke’s record on abuse, he is an odd and unpromising choice for such a sensitive task,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.orga Massachusetts-based information resource that gathers documents and data about the clergy sex abuse crisis in the Catholic Church.

Doyle said Burke has a “troubling record” in dealing with clergy abuse cases.

“He has consistently defended accused clergy and played hardball with victims,” Doyle told Pacific Daily News.

Burke, in an Associated Press report, said he aims to wrap up the Apuron investigation by the summer. The report also said Burke denied he had been sent to Guam as “punishment,” telling Italy’s Mediaset it was normal for cardinals to take on extra jobs in their areas of expertise.

Burke is a top canon lawyer who has clashed repeatedly with Pope Francis.

The Illinois-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said the Vatican’s choice has a “sketchy history when it comes to dealing with the abuse crisis.”

“(Burke) was a very controversial figure in St. Louis and the Vatican for his hard-line conservative views. He was sidelined by Pope Francis for openly criticizing the Pope,” Joelle Casteix, SNAP’s volunteer western regional director, said.

‘Canonical penal trial’

The Archdiocese of Agana, in a statement released Saturday night, said that before the team left, “They conveyed their appreciation to all individuals whom they interviewed during their work here and encouraged all of Guam’s faithful to remain grounded in Christ,” the archdiocese wrote.

Archbishop Michael Jude Byrnes was appointed by Pope Francis late last year to replace Apuron if necessary,  In the same Archdiocese statement, Byrnes said he is “pleased that the Vatican is advancing this process.”

“The Archdiocese commends all witnesses who have stepped forward to tell their stories. We will continue to redouble our efforts to combat, root out and address sex abuse in the Archdiocese. We pray for a speedy and just result,” the statement said. It added that preventative measures, including formation of a task force to protect future possible victims are in place. A parish-level team from St. Francis presented the first of what will be a series of training programs followed by other Guam parishes.

Apuron is being investigated not only because of alleged sexual abuse of minors, but also other criminal activities and the investigation may have started in 2008, said Attorney David Lujan, who represents at least 18 former altar boys allegedly sexually abused by Catholic clergy on Guam and the number could double in the weeks ahead.

Lujan pointed to the length of time, nine years, before the Vatican has come out here to talk to witnesses as part of their investigation of Apuron.

Archbishop Savio Hon Tai Fai, in 2016, made several statements pointing to the Vatican’s concerns about Apuron long before former altar boys publicly accused Apuron of rape and sexual abuse.

Hon said these include deeding a Yona seminary property to a group without due process in conformity with Catholic church law, disobeying the Holy See’s instructions to rescind and annual that deed restriction, failure to talk to his own priests, favoritism towards one group, inability to involve more people in decision-making for the archdiocese, and failure to ensure constant communication with the Holy See through Archbishop Martin Krebs, among other things.

Apuron has denied the sexual abuse claims.

‘Not a good choice for Guam’

The Vatican officials working on the Apuron canonical penal trial are a concern for international organizations working on the church crisis worldwide, as well as the attorney for the clergy abuse survivors on Guam.

SNAP’s Casteix said in her personal view, Burke was deputized because of the belief that he might appeal to Catholics on Guam who felt alienated by the Neocatechumenal Way.

“Unfortunately, Burke also has a sketchy history when it comes to dealing with the abuse crisis in St. Louis: blaming gay clergy and and allegedly engaging in culpable negligence,” Casteix said.

Apuron is one of 84 bishops worldwide who have been accused publicly of sexual wrongdoing, based on data that BishopAccountability.org has compiled.

Doyle said nothing in Burke’s record suggests he is a good choice to head Apuron’s tribunal.

“He does not seem capable of the extreme severity toward offending clergy that Pope Francis called for last week,” Doyle said.

In 1990, for example, Burke as a young canon lawyer defended before the Signatura an accused Pittsburgh priest that then-bishop Donald Wuerl was seeking to remove from the priesthood, Doyle said.

“When Burke won his case, Wuerl himself flew to Rome to argue for the priest’s removal and ultimately prevailed,” Doyle added.

Doyle said that on the other hand, there’s little known about Burke’s involvement since 2008 when he left the U.S. to serve as Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura.

“Despite his disagreement with Pope Francis on many other topics, let’s hope Burke aligns with him on this most crucial issue facing the Church. In the tribunal in Guam, Burke must heed the Pope’s pledges of zero tolerance and accountability for bishops,” said Doyle. “Sadly, early indicators suggest otherwise.”

Doyle said Burke already has warned at least one Apuron victim that his testimony will be sealed under the pontifical secret, “and that does not bode well.”

“Without transparency, there cannot be accountability,” Doyle added.

Lujan was not shy to share his mistrust of the Rev. James Conn, who serves as prosecutor in the Apuron canonical trial.

The Vatican tribunal heard from some witnesses last week, but didn’t directly hear from one of Apuron’s alleged sexual abuse victims, Roland Sondia. Sondia declined to give testimony without Lujan’s presence and said he would provide written testimony later. Among those deposed was Deacon Steve Martinez, the former sexual abuse response coordinator whom Apuron fired for reportedly raising concerns about the archdiocese’s mishandling of sex abuse allegations for several years.

 Complete Article HERE!

02/18/17

Ex-altar boy refuses to testify

A former altar boy who accused Guam’s longtime archbishop of sexually abusing him refused Thursday to testify before a Vatican court headed by American Cardinal Raymond Burke on the grounds that he couldn’t have his lawyer present.

Roland Sondia met with Burke and other Vatican officials who traveled to the Pacific island U.S. territory to take testimony for the trial of Guam Archbishop Anthony Apuron, attorney David Lujan said.

Lujan said the proceedings were “worse” than he had expected because he wasn’t allowed to be present to advise his client, who was to have been “questioned by the prosecutor, who is a priest, and Archbishop Apuron’s lawyer, who is a priest, and a presider who is Cardinal Burke, and a notary who is also a priest.”

Cardinal Raymond Burke

“We felt it wasn’t in my client’s best interest to be in that position,” he said. He said Sondia may submit a written declaration instead.

Apuron is facing multiple allegations of sex abuse of altar boys in the 1970s. Sondia, now an adult, has publicly accused Apuron of molesting him when he was 15. Apuron has denied the claims and has not been criminally charged.

Lujan said another witness — the mother of a deceased altar boy who also accused Apuron — would also refuse to testify.

Archbishop Anthony Apuron

It wasn’t clear how the lack of testimony would affect the church trial. The alleged victims have sued Apuron, the archdiocese and other individual priests in U.S. courts, which could explain their reluctance to testify in a separate legal procedure. Those lawsuits were made possible after the Guam legislature last year passed a law that lifts the civil statute of limitations for child sex abuse.

The Vatican confirmed Thursday that Burke in October had been named presiding judge in the Vatican trial — an unusual revelation given that even the existence of such church trials is usually kept confidential. The Apuron case, though, has played out under heavy public scrutiny in Guam.

Burke’s role raised eyebrows in Rome because he has recently been involved in some high-profile clashes with Pope Francis.

Burke, a top canon lawyer, had headed the Vatican’s high court until 2014, when Francis removed him and named him patron of the Knights of Malta religious order. Francis recently sidelined Burke from that position after Burke was involved in the problematic ouster of a senior knight.

Burke’s defense of church doctrine has made him a hero to conservative and traditionalist Catholics upset with Francis’ mercy-over-morals priorities. He is one of four cardinals who asked Francis to clarify his controversial opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics.

Survivors of clerical abuse, though, have long criticized Burke’s record as an archbishop in the U.S. in handling cases of abusive priests. Burke has said every act of abuse by clergy is a “grave evil.” But he has also blamed gay clergy for the sex abuse crisis, saying priests “who were feminized and confused about their own sexual identity” were the ones who molested children.

Complete Article HERE!

02/17/17

The clergy has moved on. It’s the bishops who are out of touch

Synod’s rejection of the same-sex marriage report shows the problem of having glorified administrators focused on unity at the head of the church

A delegate walks past protesters outside the General Synod at Church House in London on Wednesday. ‘The problem is the bishops themselves, tense with self-imposed anxiety.’

By

It rained in London on Wednesday afternoon. Then the sun came out. And so it was that when the General Synod of the Church of England met to discuss the acceptability of same-sex marriage, a huge rainbow appeared over Church House, Westminster. Even God, it seems, was making his feelings known on this one.

The bishops had produced a report after a three-year listening process. This itself was just another kicking-into-the-long-grass exercise. After all, who can refuse listening? So church reports that seek no change always call for another report and more listening. But had anybody heard anything useful? The report called for a “change of tone” towards LGBTI people – yes, they always do that, and always in the same patronising tone – but no change of doctrine. The bishops refused to budge on the question of same-sex couples getting married in church. And so the clergy of the C of E threw the report out, leaving the bishops angry and embarrassed.

Recalling the story of Jacob wrestling with the angel in the book of Genesis, Canon Simon Butler – gay, out and partnered – told synod: “I will not let go until you bless me.” Those of us wrestling for equal marriage will not stop until gay people are offered the church’s blessing. We bless battleships with missiles. But not the love between two people. And the problem here is not the clergy or the people in the pews. The problem is the bishops themselves, tense with self-imposed anxiety.

On the same day the report was being sunk by synod, a British Social Attitudes survey found that only 17% of Anglicans now believe that same-sex relationships are “always wrong”, the lowest level since 1983 when people started measuring these views. Back then, the figure was 50%. In the intervening years churchgoers, like the population in general, have dramatically changed their mind over homosexuality. And hurrah for that.

But don’t believe that this is all the church wants to talk about. In my parish, it’s a non-issue. We’ve had openly gay clergy ministering here and many gay people in the pews. While the bishops take themselves away to discuss fictional case studies involving problematic gay-related situations (NB don’t say problem gay people – that’s all part of the “change of tone” directive), we in the parish just get on with doing the stuff we’re supposed to. No, the problem is within the episcopate. They voted 43-1 for the report. And the one who voted against wasn’t some brave bishop registering dissent. It was the bishop of Coventry who couldn’t figure out how to work his voting console.

Such is the high degree of corporate responsibility the bishops feel, that even those sympathetic to same-sex marriage voted for a report that condemned it. Thus the bishop of Liverpool wrote: “For some, the sense of betrayal is particularly acute when applied to people like me, who have spoken of the need for change in the church. Where was I? What happened to my voice? How could I have been so weak as to stand with this document?”

The answer is always the same. The job of the bishops, the current lot insist, is to provide a “focus of unity”. That’s why when bishops retire, and are freed from the responsibility of keeping their dioceses together, they write letters to the papers saying how much they disagreed with what they used to have to support. The bishops tell themselves that they sacrifice their personal views for the greater good. And they ask us to feel their pain. Responsibility for the way in which this need for corporate double-speak has blunted the prophetic witness of the episcopate is squarely on the shoulders of the secretive process by which bishops are selected. It’s a process that promotes the same sort of people – glorified administrators who are good at “tone” and are not given to bursts of independent mindedness. None of which are qualities associated with the prophets of the Bible.

What Wednesday’s synod vote revealed was not only that the church continues to move in a progressive direction – though with the engine of a lawnmower and the brakes of an articulated lorry. It also demonstrated the widening gap between bishops and their clergy. The C of E works best at the local level. Head office is out of touch.

Complete Article HERE!

02/8/17

Child sex abuse royal commission: Archbishop says he has ‘no right’ to ask priests about sexual activity

Archbishop Coleridge says he cannot expect priests to answer questions about their sexual activity.

By Michelle Brown and Paige Cockburn

One of Australia’s most senior Catholics, Archbishop of Brisbane Mark Coleridge, says he does not know how many priests break their vows of celibacy, and does not think it is appropriate to question them.

Appearing at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, Archbishop Coleridge said he had never had a sense of “being shackled” by his vow of celibacy but could not speak about the experiences of others.

Commissioner Peter McLellan intervened when Archbishop Coleridge said he could not say whether at any one time 50 per cent of clergy might be breaking their vows.

“It might be said Archbishop that given that you’re the leader of one of the most significant diocese in Australia that these are questions you should know about?” Commissioner McLellan said.

The Archbishop responded by explaining he could not possibly know the sexual behaviour of clergy who he works with and has no right to ask.

“I have no right to go to a priest who is not an employee of mine and say ‘excuse me, are you in a sexual relationship?'” he said.

“I have no right to ask those questions, or if I do, to expect an answer.”

Archbishop Coleridge also defended celibacy and said he did not think it was a causative factor to the abuse but the “question whether it was a major aggravating factor is on the table”.

He also said it was possible to live without sexual activity as “it’s not like sleep or food” and it did not necessarily lead to loneliness and isolation.

Commissioner McLellan said it needed to be determined whether a person was functioning effectively as previous abusive priests had been “people who in many cases are not functioning well”.

“When you find a problem with the way someone is functioning, the question maybe should be asked: ‘What is their personal life really all about?'”

Archbishop Coleridge said that was a question for someone providing professional supervision to ask rather than a Bishop to which Commissioner McLellan responded: “Well, again, those outside the church might say that reflects a management failure in the church’s structure.”

The Archbishop later said he believed Catholic bishops would probably tell police if a priest confessed to a sexual crime against children today.

“I tend to think that other bishops these days — in the light of what we are learning — would say to the priest ‘what you have confessed you understand is criminal behaviour and therefore the civil authorities must be notified’.”

Female leadership ‘needed in the church’

The Archbishop also said there was a need for more women to be making executive decisions at the top of the Catholic Church in Australia.

“If the Catholic Church says it cannot ordain women we are correspondingly obliged to explore ways in which women can exercise genuine responsibility in the decision-making processes at the highest level,” Archbishop Coleridge said.

Catholics for Renewal president Mr Peter Johnstone said he believed one could argue women would have spoken up about allegations of abuse earlier.

“When you exclude the people who have had experience in bringing up children…you are not going to get it right,” he said.

Today is day three of a three-week public hearing which will focus on the extent of child sexual abuse over almost seven decades and what church leaders are doing to protect children.

Last week, Archbishop Coleridge emailed a video message to tens of thousands of Catholic school parents expressing his concern about the impact of the statistics relating to reported abuse within the church.

“My sincere hope is that all the blood, sweat and tears will produce justice and healing and ensure that the future is much safer for the young than the past has been,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!