06/18/17

A tale of two Cardinals: One offering welcome to LGBT Catholics and one withholding it

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By Cahir O’Doherty

Four years ago Pope Francis stunned the Catholic world by declaring “if a person is gay and seeks out the Lord and is willing, who am I to judge that person?”

You’re the pope, came the answer – and if you’re going to take judging gay people off the table, then shouldn’t the church?

The implications of Francis’ statement are profound and are playing out internationally at a pace that – by the glacial standards of the church – might be called breakneck.

Here in the U.S. two prominent Irish American cardinals are already offering widely differing responses to the pope’s dramatic change in tone, if admittedly not in doctrine.

Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin, 65, was profiled this week in The New York Times for welcoming a group of openly gay people to mass.

An invitation “by a leader of Cardinal Tobin’s standing in the Roman Catholic Church in this country would have been unthinkable even five years ago,” the Times states, undeniably.

Tobin, who hails from Detroit, is Irish American on both sides and “is among a small but growing group of bishops changing how the American church relates to its gay members,” the Times says. “They are seeking to be more inclusive and signaling to subordinate priests that they should do the same.”

But in New York, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, 67, appears to be resisting any reconsideration in tone or doctrine over gays. This week he signaled he would take a different approach by publicly endorsing Daniel Mattson’s controversial new book, “Why I Don’t Call Myself Gay, How I Reclaimed My Sexual Identity and Found Peace.”

Mattson, a writer and public speaker, admits he is only attracted to the same sex but he refuses to call himself gay. In his new book he writes he only made “peace” with his same-sex attractions and his religious faith by embracing a life of chastity.

Cardinal Tobin

Paraphrasing Elisabeth Elliot, Mattson writes: “When a man or woman, a boy or girl, accepts the way of loneliness for Christ’s sake, there are cosmic ramifications. That person, in a secret transaction with God, actually does something for the life of the world. This seems almost inconceivable, yet it is true, for it is one part of the mystery of suffering which has been revealed to us.”

For “the life of the world”, Mattson has decided to remain chaste and embrace loneliness “in a transaction” with God. Although he admittedly still “suffers” from same sex attractions, his self-imposed chastity makes it impossible for him to express that part of himself, ever.

Dolan was effusive in his praise for Mattson’s sobering decision this week. “Mattson… shares with us how he has come to understand and accept God’s loving plan for his life, as well as the beauty and richness of the Church’s teaching on chastity…”

For Dolan and Mattson the “beauty and richness” of an LGBT orientation is only to be found in its total abnegation.

Given how apparently hard line he is on the matter, it’s no wonder Dolan was up with the larks to appear on CBS’s “This Morning” four years ago in a visit that clearly intended to reassure conservative Catholics it was business as usual regarding gay people, despite Francis’ surprising change in tone.

Now, four years later, if you’re LGBT and Catholic, the kind of welcome you receive in any Catholic church depends on which Catholic church you’re sitting in.

“The church must say it’s sorry for not having comported itself well many times, many times,” Francis said in his now famous interview four years ago.

“I believe that the church not only must say it’s sorry… to this person that is gay that it has offended,” said the pope. “But it must say it’s sorry to the poor, also, to mistreated women, to children forced to work.”

“When I say the church: Christians,” Francis later clarified. “The church is holy. We are the sinners.”

For Cardinal Tobin the very Irish act of offering welcome, which is extended to one and all, is a deep expression of his private faith in public action.

“The word I use is welcome,” Tobin told the Times. “These are people that have not felt welcome in other places. My prayer for them is that they do. Today in the Catholic Church, we read a passage that says you have to be able to give a reason for your hope. And I’m praying that this pilgrimage for them, and really for the whole church, is a reason for hope.”

Conservative clergy members have suggested that alongside Tobin’s welcome to gay Catholics he should have offered them a stern challenge to consider their ways, but the Cardinal demurred.

“That sounds a little backhanded to me,” he said. “It was appropriate to welcome people to come and pray and call them who they were. And later on, we can talk.”

After the Mass, he received “a fair amount of visceral hate mail from fellow Catholics,” Tobin says. One parishioner even went so far as to organize a letter-writing campaign calling on other bishops to “correct” him.

“And there’s a lot to correct in me, without a doubt,” Cardinal Tobin told the Times. “But not for welcoming people. No.”

For over two and a half decades gays were a line in the sand issue for the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade Committee – and an unasked for complication to Dolan’s own ministry.

Having finally squared that circle, it’s remarkable to see the LGBT issue has lost none of it’s ability to divide Irish Americans and the Church from each other, even when the Irish Americans in question are high-ranking members of the Church themselves.

Complete Article HERE!

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06/2/17

Church saw sharp rise in clergy sex abuse victims who came forward last year

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The number of victims who brought new claims of sexual abuse by clergy rose sharply last year, fueled in large part by a surge of allegations from Minnesota, according to a report released Thursday by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops.

That state temporarily lifted its statute of limitations in 2013 to allow alleged victims older than 24 to sue for past abuse, and the deadline to file such claims was in late May 2016, according to the report. The deadline is believed to have prompted a rush of last-minute filings.

The annual report from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, which covers July 2015 to June 2016, said 911 victims came forward with allegations the church deemed credible, the vast majority of which were from adults who said they were abused when they were children.

That was up from 384 in the previous 12-month span, and it marked the highest total since 1,083 victims came forward in 2004, the first year the bishops conference published an annual report on the topic amid the fallout of the abuse crisis that was exposed in the early 2000s.

“I am grateful that allegations are being reported,” Deacon Bernie Nojadera, executive director of the conference’s Secretariat of Child and Youth Protection, wrote in the report. “I am grateful that alleged victims are being treated with sensitivity and care. I am grateful that alleged offenders are offered treatment and supervision. But much work is still needed.

“May God bless our victims/survivors and our endeavors toward healing, justice, and peace,” he added.

The report did not break down the number of complaints in the most recent year that came from Minnesota but said they were a “substantial portion.”

The report also noted that the November 2015 release of the movie “Spotlight,’’ which recounted The Boston Globe’s investigation of the clergy-abuse crisis, “helped bring the issue back into the mind of the general public.’’

“As the movie illustrates, it was because of a few brave individuals who had the courage to come forward that the sexual abuse scandal in the Catholic Church was brought to light,” the report says.

Victims who came forward during the most recent reporting year included 26 minors, the report said.

The report’s definition of “minors” included people under age 18 or anyone who “habitually lacks the use of reason.”

As of June 30, 2016, two of the 26 cases had been substantiated, while 11 had been deemed unsubstantiated by church officials. The rest remained under investigation, the report said.

The offenders in the substantiated cases were removed from ministry, as were 26 other priests or deacons accused of past abuse, officials said.

The report did not break down the location of the allegations but said its data was based on information from all 196 diocese and eparchies of the bishops conference, which includes the Archdiocese of Boston, and from 180 of the 232 religious institutes of the Conference of Major Superiors of Men.

The latest figures mean that between 1950 and June 2016, more than 18,500 people nationwide made clergy abuse allegations deemed credible by US Catholic officials, and more than 6,700 clerics have been accused of abuse, church records show.

Activists have questioned whether the church’s count of clergy sex abuse victims is lower than the actual total.

The abuse crisis has cost the church billions of dollars.

Between 1950 and June 2016, about $3.7 billion was spent on settlement-related costs, including $141 million during the most recent year, according to the church.

Complete Article HERE!

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01/20/17

Ex-worker sues priest sex-abuse victims advocacy group, says it exploited survivors

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Gretchen Rachel Hammond answers reporters’ questions during a news conference, as her attorney, Bruce Howard, listens at his law firm Jan. 19, 2017, in Chicago. Hammond is suing Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, her former employer.

 

By Manya Brachear

A former employee of the Chicago-based Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests has sued the victims advocacy group, alleging that SNAP exploited victims of sexual abuse by clergy in return for financial kickbacks from attorneys.

According to a lawsuit filed this week in Cook County Circuit Court, Gretchen Rachel Hammond worked as a director of development from July 2011 until she said she was fired in February 2013, shortly after asking superiors whether SNAP was referring potential clients to attorneys in exchange for donations.

In addition to the organization, defendants named in the lawsuit are Barbara Blaine, its founder and president; David Clohessy, executive director; and Barbara Dorris, outreach director.

Blaine said in a statement that “the allegations are not true.”

“This will be proven in court,” she said. “SNAP leaders are now, and always have been, devoted to following the SNAP mission: To help victims heal and to prevent further sexual abuse.”

Neither Clohessy nor Dorris could be reached for comment.

Though it did not name attorneys, the lawsuit said donations from several high-profile litigators across the country comprised a large percentage of SNAP’s income.

Jeff Anderson, a prominent Minnesota attorney for victims of clergy sex abuse who was not named in the lawsuit, confirmed that he makes regular donations to SNAP, as well as other nonprofit organizations that advocate for the safety of children. But he said he does not do it in exchange for referrals.

“I have supported SNAP and a lot of other organizations that help survivors throughout the country, unapologetically,” he said.

“The allegation is explosive because it’s unethical,” he added. “I’ve never done it nor would I ever do it.”

According to the lawsuit, Hammond grew suspicious of SNAP’s methods when she was not permitted to participate in an internal audit of SNAP by an accounting firm and was barred from attending survivors’ meetings, group therapy sessions or counseling sessions to help generate material for grant proposals.

She also was given access to a list of lawyers who regularly donated to SNAP but was told to never tell anyone that lawyers donate to the organization, according to the lawsuit. At a news conference, Hammond said she raised more than $950,000 for SNAP during her 19 months there.

A Missouri judge ruled in 2012 to open more than two decades of correspondence with victims, lawyers, witnesses and journalists to shed light on whether SNAP had coached victims to fabricate claims of repressed memory.

Shortly after that, Hammond said, she was accidentally copied on an email from Clohessy to an attorney, asking when he could expect the next donation, the lawsuit said. It was then she began to ask questions and the workplace climate dramatically changed, she alleged in the lawsuit.

She said she began to collect evidence of what she believed to be a kickback scheme, copying reams of documents and downloading records on a flash drive she used to do work at home. When SNAP sent a volunteer to her apartment to collect the flash drive, she did not disclose that she had copied it, the lawsuit said. She was fired two days later, she said.

Though she decided not to go to authorities at the time, the movie “Spotlight” renewed her concerns and she sought legal counsel. Hammond alleges she could not find employment that paid as much as she made at SNAP and is seeking compensatory damages, attorney’s fees and expenses.

Complete Article HERE!

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11/28/16

Nine Guam priests with sex abuse allegations

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By Haidee V Eugenio

 Guam

Another Guam law firm is reaching out to those who were sexually abused by clergy as children.

Gov. Eddie Calvo recently signed a law, lifting the statute of limitations on civil suits against those accused of sexually abusing children, as well as the institutions that supported them. The new law is in response to allegations by former altar boys who said they were sexually abused by Guam clergy decades ago. Among those accused was Archbishop Anthony Apuron, who was a parish priest in Agat in the 1970s.

The first Guam law firm to file lawsuits against the Archdiocese of Agana and its priests is Lujan & Wolff LLP, which has so far filed nine lawsuits on behalf of seven former altar boys and former Boy Scouts. Attorney David Lujan said more lawsuits will be filed in the weeks ahead, and the defendants include institutions other than the Catholic church.

Lujan’s clients have alleged abuse by Apuron and former Guam priest Louis Brouillard, who has admitted to abusing altar boys decades ago.

The law office of Dooley Roberts Fowler & Visosky LLP,  said it has teamed up with mainland-based lawyers who have experience representing survivors of childhood sexual abuse, including abuse by Catholic priests. The law firm said it will maintain the confidentiality of its clients as much as possible.

“A number of Catholic priests who served in Guam have been the subject of allegations of child sexual abuse. Some of the allegations date back many years, while others have been made more recently, after Guam changed its statute of limitations to make it easier for abuse survivors to come forward and seek redress for what they endured,” the law firm stated.

It is likely that lawsuits, according to the law firm, will force the Archdiocese of Agana to disclose any information it has regarding these allegations, including whether people posed a danger to children, and if so, whether the archdiocese failed to take reasonable steps to protect children from them.

The Archdiocese of Agana has repeatedly apologized to victims of clergy sex abuse and offers prayers to them.

List of priests

Dooley Roberts Fowler & Visosky issued a list of Guam clergy who already have been publicly accused of abuse, along with a brief explanation of where they worked.

  • Andrew Mannetta. He first came to Guam in 1980, and was ordained into the priesthood in May 1983. He served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat, and also was assigned to San Miguel Church in Talofofo and Santa Teresita Catholic Church in Mangilao. In 2003, a lawsuit filed against Mannetta claimed that he sexually abused a child from 1997 to 2001 while he was a pastor of Saint Elizabeth Church in Aiea, Hawaii. Other public accusations claimed that Mannetta sexually abused two altar boys in 1994 and another youth between 1997-1998.
  • Antonio C. Cruz. In September 2016, a former altar boy, Ramon Afaisen De Plata, 62, publicly claimed he saw Cruz sexually abuse an altar boy in Chalan Pago in 1964. Cruz was assigned to Our Lady of Peace and Safe Journey Church in Chalan Pago after its dedication in 1959. He also serves at the Saint Anthony and Saint Victor Church in Tamuning. Cruz died in November 1986 at the age of 62.
  • Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron. Starting in May 2016, former altar boys accused Apuron of sexual abuse in the 1970s when he was parish priest at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat. Apuron is facing a canonical trial at the Vatican over the allegations, and Pope Francis has already named his successor. Apuron has denied all allegations.
  • Gale Leifeld. Leifeld was accused of sexually abusing students at St. Lawrence Seminary in Wisconsin. According to BishopAccountability.org, Leifeld is said to have sexually abused at least several dozen St. Lawrence Seminary students. One of the men claimed that Leifeld often spoke about the time he spent on Guam. Leifeld died in June 1994.
  • John H. Wadeson. Wadeson was publicly accused of abusing children between 1973 and 1977 while he was serving in Los Angeles. In 2004, Wadeson was included on a list of priests accused of sexual abuse by the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. In 2014, it was discovered that Wadeson was working as a priest on Guam, from 2000 until 2014.
  • John Hugh Sutton. He worked on Guam from 1971 until about 1975 at Father Duenas Memorial School and Seminary in Mangilao. Between 2014 and 2015, a lawsuit claimed Sutton sexually abused a student while he was a teacher at Notre Dame Middle-High School in Wichita Falls, Texas. Sutton died on Sept. 11, 2004. In September 2016, a Dallas-based law firm reached out to anyone who had information about Sutton.
  • Louis A. Brouillard. Brouillard’s first public admission of sexually abusing boys was through a phone interview with Pacific Daily News in August, a few days after a former altar boy publicly accused Brouillard of molesting him in 1956. Since then, Brouillard talked to other media and signed a statement in support of a lawsuit against him. Brouillard said he sexually molested at least 20 boys on Guam. He was ordained as a priest on Guam in 1948 and served on island until about 1985. He taught at the San Vicente and Father Duenas Memorial School, and was scout master for the Boy Scouts of America on Guam in the 1970s. The Archdiocese of Agana has apologized at least three times to Brouillard’s alleged victims.
  • Randolph “Randy” Nowak. He served at the Our Lady of Mount Carmel Church in Agat between 1982 and 2005. His other assignments included Honolulu in 1989. In 2010, Nowak was publicly accused of sexually abusing a minor between 1961 and 1966 at Saint Mary’s Seminary in Glenclyffe, New York.
  • Raymond Cepeda. In 2010, the Archdiocese of Agana confirmed that Cepeda was removed from priesthood after it investigated allegations of sexual abuse against Cepeda. He served at Santa Barbara Church in Dededo and the Dulce Nombre de Maria Cathedral-Basilica in Hagåtña.

Complete Article HERE!

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11/5/16

Vatican condemns radio station over anti-gay comments on quake

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File under: Me thinks she doth protest too much.

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The Vatican has condemned a right-wing Catholic radio station after a broadcast said the recent earthquakes in Italy were “God’s punishment” for gay civil unions.

The remarks, made on the station Radio Maria, were “offensive and scandalous”, the Vatican said.

A Dominican friar said the quakes, including one in August that killed nearly 300, were caused by sins of man.

He said these included the approval of same-sex civil unions last May.

But the Vatican rejected the remarks as pagan, and said they had nothing to do with Catholic theology.

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“They are offensive statements for believers and scandalous for those who do not believe”, said Monsignor Angelo Becciu, deputy secretary of state, who is close to Pope Francis.

Monsignor Becciu said Radio Maria, which has come under criticism in the past for comments seen as anti-Semitic, had to “moderate the tone of its language” and conform to the Church’s message of mercy.

But the friar at the centre of the scandal stood by his description of the quakes as divine intervention.

“Just read the catechism,” Father John Cavalcoli said, referring to Roman Catholic religious instruction.

Radio Maria has published a statement (in Italian) on its website, saying the offensive comments did not reflect the views of the station.

Complete Article HERE!

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