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!

01/20/17

Northern Ireland child abuse inquiry singles out police and church

Report on historical abuse in 22 church, state and charity-run homes accuses RUC and Catholic hierarchy of serious failings

Campaigners for alleged victims of historical institutional abuse outside the hotel where Sir Anthony Hart was making his statement.

By

Police were guilty of a “catalogue of failures” over the abuse of boys at a Belfast care home run by a paedophile ring, a comprehensive report into child mistreatment across Northern Ireland has found.

The historical institutional abuse inquiry, established in 2014, found that a Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC) investigation into sexual abuse at the Kincora care home in east Belfast was “inept, inadequate and far from thorough”.

The report, released on Friday, also accused the Catholic hierarchy in Ireland of ignoring repeated warnings about a serial paedophile, Fr Brendan Smyth, who sexually assaulted and raped dozens of young victims.

The implications of the Smyth scandal and other clerical abuse in the region were so serious that a senior Catholic cleric was due to discuss the findings with the pope later on Friday.

Kincora care home was run by a number of paedophiles whom it was alleged were agents of the state. They included the prominent Orange Order member William McGrath, who was accused of being an informer for MI5 and special branch in the 1970s, spying on fellow hardline loyalists.

At least 29 boys were sexually abused by McGrath, the Kincora housemaster, and others at the home. One boy is said to have killed himself by jumping off a ferry into the Irish Sea in the late 1970s following years of abuse. Three senior staff at Kincora – McGrath, Raymond Semple and Joseph Mains – were jailed in 1981 for abusing 11 boys.

The retired judge Sir Anthony Hart, who chaired the inquiry, said if the RUC had carried out a proper investigation into Kincora many of the victims might have been spared. He said 39 boys were abused byMcGrath and others running Kincora at the height of the Troubles.

But Hart said the notion that the home was a homosexual “brothel” used by the security services to entrap paedophiles to spy on influential political figures was without foundation.

Controversially, he also dismissed the notion that McGrath was a state agent. “We are satisfied that McGrath was never an agent of the state. William McGrath was a sexual pervert who had political views of a bizarre type.”

Hart was extremely critical of a number of individuals who had previously made claims about Kincora, including the former army intelligence officer Colin Wallace, who first raised allegations of a paedophile ring at the home.

The judge said the cooperation of the current Police Service of Northern Ireland was in “marked contrast to the unwillingness of some individuals”.

He stressed that all requests by the inquiry for classified files relating to Kincora were “honoured” by government and security agencies.

Hart said there was “no credible evidence” to support allegations that a paedophile ring including senior British establishment figures had abused children in Kincora. The report had “stripped away decades of half-truths masquerading as facts in relation to Kincora”.

The inquiry, which sat at Banbridge courthouse in County Down for two years, investigated children’s care homes and institutions from the Northern Ireland state’s foundation in 1922 to 1995.

During the Kincora section of the inquiry it emerged that MI5 and MI6 were legally represented at Banbridge. Critics of how the hearing into Kincora had been framed expressed concerns the government would use the Official Secrets Act to prevent the inquiry gaining access to files from MI5 and MI6.

Among the other scandals highlighted in the report was that surrounding Fr Brendan Smyth. He was a paedophile priest whom the Catholic hierarchy kept moving around parishes in both Ireland and the United States long after it knew about his abuse of children in places such as west Belfast.

The report severely criticised the Catholic Church’s behaviour.

“Father Brendan Smyth was able to carry out widespread sexual abuse of children, including some children resident in homes investigated by the inquiry, due to the failure of branches of the Roman Catholic church to properly address his behaviour from before he was ordained as a priest, despite clear warnings,” it said.

“There was repeated failure to assess the risk he posed to children, to confine him to his abbey, to thoroughly investigate allegations of abuse, to notify the police and social services, and to share information between dioceses and report matters to the appropriate civil and ecclesiastical authorities.”

The report also criticised an order of Catholic nuns, the Sisters of Nazareth. Of the homes they ran in Belfast and Derry, it said: “In each of the four homes, some nuns engaged in physical and emotional abuse against children. Emotional abuse was widespread in all homes.”

Hart and his team found that a disinfectant was used in baths in the orphanages. He said there was a significant number of cases of sexual abuse involving priests and lay staff. Many of these incidents were known to members of the clergy, who did nothing to stop them, the report said.

The leader of Ireland’s Catholics, archbishop Eamon Martin, said he would discuss its findings with Pope Francis when he met the pontiff in Rome later on Friday.

He said the report “reminds us that much work remains to be undertaken in this regard”.

Public hearings were held into 22 institutions across Northern Ireland which were run by the state, local authorities, the Catholic church, the Church of Ireland, and other voluntary organisations. Hart’s report runs to 2,300 pages and contains 10 volumes of findings and testimonies.

The NSPCC children’s charity said: “This inquiry has shed light on horrendous and widespread abuse carried out against children in Northern Ireland in the past. Institutions must now be held to account for the prolonged, systematic failings against the children in their care. It is right that the survivors receive the justice they deserve and we support the recommendation for redress.”

Complete Article HERE!

01/10/17

Fr Tony Flannery to ignore Vatican ban to celebrate Mass

Kenny took letter from priest, suspended for views on Catholic teachings, to pope during visit

 

By Patsy McGarry

A letter from a priest who was suspended from public ministry was taken to Pope Francis by Taoiseach Enda Kenny when he met the pontiff on November 28th last. A spokesman for the Taoiseach confirmed the letter was delivered as Fr Tony Flannery had requested.

Fr Flannery was disciplined by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) for views he expressed on Catholic teachings in 2012, the year prior to Pope Francis’s election.

The priest has also announced that he will ignore this suspension from public ministry by celebrating Mass on Sunday 22nd of January next at 2.30pm in the Killimordaly Community Centre near where he lives in east Galway.
It will mark his 70th birthday on January 18th.

Announcing this decision to publicly break the Vatican directive, Fr Flannery said: “Having spent 40 years of my life ministering as a priest, I am now into my fifth year when I am forbidden by church authorities to minister publicly. I have decided to honour my age, and my lifetime, by ignoring the church censures, and celebrating a public Mass.

“Since I would not be allowed to do so either in a Catholic church or other Catholic controlled building, I have chosen, with the kind permission of the committee, to celebrate it in the local community hall in the village where I now live.”
He was not celebrating this Mass “for the sake of defying church authorities,” he said. But it was the case that “the Mass, the Eucharist, is not in the ownership of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, or indeed of the Vatican. It belongs to the believing communities,” he said.

‘Serious questions’
In his letter to Pope Francis, as delivered by the Taoiseach, Fr Flannery recalled how “since 1994, the credibility of the Catholic Church in Ireland has been severely damaged due to the clerical sexual abuse problems. This led to many people, even committed Catholics, asking serious questions about the structure and practices of our church, and the reasons why church authorities failed to deal properly with the emerging scandal.”

He continued that “six Irish priests who sought in their writings to examine these questions were censored by the CDF since 2006.” He himself was “most severely censored, as I am forbidden to minister publicly as a priest.”

The main concerns of the priests who were disciplined were that, in its dealings with them, the CDF had failed “to act in accordance with the principles of natural justice: We were accused and judged to be in error before we had any knowledge that a case was being prepared against us.”

Condemnations and punishments “were communicated to us indirectly, through our religious superiors. We were never given the dignity of being addressed directly. We were not given any opportunity to explain or defend our positions, or to put them into the context of the situation in which they were written. We were not informed as to the identity of the people who made complaints about us to the CDF. We did not have any opportunity to cross examine our accusers.”

When the Irish bishops or papal nuncio were questioned on the priests’ situation, “they say that they are helpless to intervene and that it is strictly a matter for our religious superiors, even though there is clear documentary evidence to show that our superiors acted always under orders from the CDF.”

Fr Flannery hoped, in light of Pope Francis’s proposed visit to Ireland, “ that our situations might be looked at in a new and more just fashion.” He concluded by expressing “great respect, and appreciation for all you are doing to renew our church. ”
Complete Article HERE!

12/21/16

No Shocker for This Gay Ex-Jesuit, Vatican Rejects Gay Priests (Again)

By

I am not shocked by the Vatican’s recent affirmation of the 2005 ban on admitting gay men to the priesthood. There’s nothing new here. Despite the media and liberal priests’ attempt to portray the “Who am I to judge?” Pope as gay friendly, the truth is the first Jesuit Pope has turned his back time and again on the LGBT community, let alone the many hundreds of gay priests and thousands of gay priests worldwide.

Francis, who does not usually stamp doctrine with his name, did approve “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” the most recent document by the Church’s Congregation for the Clergy. The use of the word “gift” in this document’s title suggests again that gay men, and consequently, all lesbian, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning men and women do not have gifts and cannot contribute to the spiritual life of their Church.

Whether one considers the papacy of Saint John Paul II, Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, or the Jesuit Francis, the truth is that these men are uncomfortable with accepting God’s plan for creating LGBTQ people in God’s image and likeness. They have returned to warped interpretations of the Hebrew and Christian testaments, they have misused the writings of Saint Thomas Aquinas. These Popes have redirected the faithful time and again back to the official teaching of the church, the Catechism of the Catholic Church. They have preferred intolerance, and contradicted their years of mercy, all in an effort to support a medieval theology, one that is neither prudent or befitting the example of Jesus.

While the Pope tackles discernment, the environment, and gender theory, he and his Church remain confused about pressing social issues facing human relationships and human families. Pope Francis supports the flawed thinking that allowing gay men to become priests will have “negative consequences.” Thus, Pope Francis remains especially confused about gay people. But so do many of his cardinals, one who told a gay Jesuit friend of mine that: “I have never met a gay person in my lifetime.” This gay Jesuit was his protégé!

As such, it is no wonder that millennials and other members of our society turn to the Supreme Court of the United States of America for moral guidance, or to Starbucks for communion and table fellowship.

And once again, the authors of “The Gift of Priestly Vocation” erroneously lump gay men and pedophiles together, warning: “The greatest attention must be given to the theme of the protection of minors and vulnerable adults,” and continue: “being vigilant lest those who seek admission to a seminary or a house of formation, or who are already petitioning to receive Holy Orders, have not been involved in any way with any crime or problematic behavior in this area.”

Hasn’t the Church learned enough from this sin?

As a gay Jesuit I lived a celibate life for ten years among many accomplished and critically acclaimed gay priests and brothers, many who worked as, or aspired to work as, theologians, authors, high school presidents and teachers, social workers, therapists, college professors, nurses, doctors, and parish priests.

I lived with these men in community, and served with them in countries like Bolivia, Brazil and the United States of America. Some of these men were afraid of their own shadows, others were hurt by the Church’s millennia of anti-gay theology, but longed for a time when the Church would not contribute to the homeless rate for LGBTQ teens (some 400,000 in America alone). Others sought to work in countries like Russia or Uganda that criminalize same-sex desire, wanting to work as missionaries among sexual minorities.

Without gay Jesuit priests and brothers, who give their time and their talents despite the Church’s demonizing them, Jesuit high schools, universities, clinics and parishes would suffer. Consider more, the countless number of heterosexual couples that these gay Jesuits and other gay priests generally counsel and advise pastorally on how to live and be sacramentally married.

Isn’t it ironic that gay men marry heterosexual couples in Church?

It is sad that these gay Jesuits, including some very influential and very powerful priests, who staff the seminaries in Rome, who are bishops, who speak on television, who counsel our politicians, who work with Hollywood’s elite, are reduced in this recent document to such negative labels: men with “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” and men who “support the so-called ‘gay culture.”

Pope Francis, the first Jesuit Pope, who shook the world with his gentleness and humility, is becoming a holy letdown for the most marginalized and the least in the Roman Catholic faith. LGBTQ men, women and children deserve more. That more would be magis, the Jesuit term for exercising deep human relationships, and a term that describes the experience of finding God in all things (aka human flourishing).

To those LGBTQ Christians who were “encouraged” by allies to hope for small change in their Church in their lifetime it is time to discern taking your time and talent and mostly your treasure to another congregation.

These days I pray about what will become of Mother Church when gay men stop hearing God’s call to become priests, and when the LGBTQ community stops helping to rebuild churches, or Catholic institutions with their donations.

Without the many gifts of gay priests and brothers what would become of the likes of St. Ignatius of Loyola (Chestnut Hill), St. Francis Xavier (New York City), DeSmet Jesuit High School (St. Louis), Georgetown (Washington, D.C.) or the Rock Church (Kansas City)?

To those closeted gay priests and seminarians who consecrate the Eucharist and who pray for peace and mercy, the time has come to, as Jesus did, to flip the tables in places of worship, to come out. Be the voices crying out in the wilderness, pray for the courage to virtuously identify yourself as gay, to no longer practice the Church’s policy of “don’t ask, don’t tell.”

Complete Article HERE!

12/12/16

Pope Francis needs his gay Priests

By Irene Monroe

To the shock of many of us LGBT people of faith is the Vatican’s recent decision in the document “The Gift of Priestly Vocation,” to ban gays to the priesthood; thus, reaffirming its 2005 stance.

Those of us who have “deep-seated homosexual tendencies” or who “support the so-called ‘gay culture’” are categorically denied to serve one of the church’s most revered and respected posts. And to know that Pope Francis, our LGBT pope- friendly pontiff, approved the document have many of us in disbelief.

We all recall Pope Francis’s remarks when flying home after a weeklong visit to Brazil in 2013 (which set off global shock waves) where the pontiff was queried about the much talked about “gay lobby” in the Vatican.

“When I meet a gay person, I have to distinguish between their being gay and being part of a lobby. If they accept the Lord and have good will, who am I to judge them?”

This public statement is the most LGBT affirmative remarks the world has ever heard from the Catholic Church. In 2013 “The Advocate,” a nationally renowned and respected LGBT ‘zine, named Pope Francis their “Person of the Year.”

Pope Frances’ more liberal-leaning pronouncements, however, don’t match his actions. But, in looking at gay priests within the historical context of the Catholic Church the Pontiff knows that gay priests have always been in the Vatican.

As a matter-of-fact, the homosocial and homosexual milieu of gay priests have always been part and parcel of the life and operations of the Vatican as well as the Catholic Church for centuries. Their strength to come-out now as a formidable force within the hallowed walls of the Vatican is laudable on the one hand, and a liability on the other hand—especially in terms of casting a gay suspicion on all priests as well as the potential to expose those priests who want to remain in the closet.

The Catholic Church needs its gay priests

The Rev. Donald B. Cozens, author of “The Changing Face of the Priesthood,” wrote that with more than half the priests and seminarians being gay, the priesthood is becoming a gay profession. Many who know the interior of the Catholic Church would argue that the priesthood has for centuries been a gay profession, and not to ordain gay priests or to defrock them would drastically alter the spiritual life and daily livelihood of the church.

“If they were to eliminate all those who were homosexually oriented, the number would be so staggering that it would be like an atomic bomb; it would do damage to the church’s operation,” says A.W. Richard Sipe, a former priest and psychotherapist who has been studying the sexuality of priests for decades. Sipe also points out that to do away with gay priests “would mean the resignation of at least a third of the bishops of the world. And it’s very much against the tradition of the church; many saints have gay orientation and many popes had gay orientations.”

The reality here is that as quietly as the Church has tried to keep it, the Catholic Church is a gay institution. And that is not a bad thing!

The problem in the Catholic Church is not its gay priests, and its solution to the problem is not the removal of them. The problem in the Catholic Church is its transgressions against them. And I ask: Who will remove the church from itself?

Years of homophobic church doctrine have made the church unsafe for us all- young and old, straight and LGBT, adult and child.

Eugene Kennedy, a specialist on sexuality and the priesthood and a former priest, wrote in his book, “The Unhealed Wound: The Church and Human Sexuality, that the Catholic Church ” . . .had always had gay priests, and they have often been models of what priests should be. To say that these men should be kept from the priesthood is in itself a challenge to the grace of God and an insult to them and the people they serve.”

Supporters and activists of the “gay lobby” in the Curia emphatically state that this brave and visible group is essential to the running of the Vatican as well as protecting themselves from the church’s hypocrisy in scapegoating them for many of the social ills of the church.

Pope Francis knows this which is one of the reasons he has commented disapprovingly about the political and activist clout the powerful “gay lobby” has in the Curia, the Vatican’s secretive administration.

“The problem is not having this orientation. The problem is lobbying by this orientation…Being gay is a tendency. The problem is the lobby,” the Italian news agency ANSA quoted Pope Frances saying a press conference during his trip to Brazil in July.

Right now, the Catholic Church stands in the need of prayer and the Pontiff knows it. Francis aptly stated in his a December 2013 interview with 16 Jesuit magazines that “the moral edifice of the church is likely to fall like a house of cards” should the Catholic Church, in this 21st Century, continue on it anti-modernity trek like his predecessor, Pope Benedict XVI.

Sadly, this pope is like the previous one when it comes to upholding church doctrine, but with a more friendlier and pastoral facade.

Shame on the church’s continued opposition to gay priests in light of its history, reality, and of the gifts they have given and continue to give to the Catholic Church.

Complete Article HERE!