05/13/17

Cardinal George Pell accused of sexually abusing two choirboys, book claims

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Vatican’s financial chief, who has always denied wrongdoing, faces fresh allegations of abuse, relating to his time as archbishop of Melbourne

Cardinal George Pell, Australia’s most senior Catholic, is accused of abusing two boys at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in the 1990s.

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New allegations of child abuse are being levelled against Cardinal George Pell, the Vatican’s financial chief and the most senior figure in the Australian Catholic church.

Fairfax Media has reported claims contained in a new book, Cardinal: The Rise and Fall of George Pell, that he sexually abused two choirboys at St Patrick’s cathedral after becoming archbishop of Melbourne in the 1990s.

The author Louise Milligan first flagged these claims on the ABC’s 7.30 Report in July last year. But according to Fairfax Milligan’s book, to be released on Monday, contains details of the accusations that have not been made public before.

After the 7.30 Report Pell accused the ABC of conducting a “scandalous smear campaign.”

Cardinal Pell’s office issued a statement on Saturday saying the cardinal had “not been notified by the Victorian Office of Public Prosecutions or Victoria police of the status of their investigations, which have been underway since at least February 2016.”

“Cardinal Pell will not seek to interfere in the course of justice by responding to the allegations made by Melbourne University Press (publisher of Milligan’s book) and media outlets today, other than to restate that any allegations of child abuse made against him are completely false,” the statement said.

“He repeats his vehement and consistent denials of any and all such accusations, and stands by all the evidence he has given to the royal commission.”

The boys, students at St Kevin’s College, sang in the cathedral choir and were allegedly abused by the archbishop in a room somewhere in the precincts of the cathedral. They left the choir and the school shortly afterwards.

Milligan claims one of the choirboys died of a drug overdose in 2014. His mother was subsequently told by the second boy that they had been abused by Pell when they were teenagers at the cathedral.

Milligan writes that both spoke to the Sano taskforce established to investigate allegations that emerged during a parliamentary inquiry in Victoria and the later royal commission into child abuse.

Pell has now been accused of abusing boys at three stages of his career: as a seminarian, a priest and as archbishop of Melbourne.

He has denied all these allegations on a number of occasions. No charges have ever been laid against him in relation to them. The cardinal, prefect of the secretariat for the economy at the Vatican, has stated that he willingly co-operated with the detectives of the Victoria police when they interviewed him in Rome in October last year.

Sano has also investigated allegations that as a young priest Pell abused boys in the swimming pool of his hometown Ballarat. Pell also denies these allegations.

Milligan writes that Pell and his defenders have been able to “bat off or gloss over” the swimming pool allegations by casting them as “horseplay or a bit of rough and tumble … The story of [the choirboys] has no such ambiguity. If these allegations are true, they point to utter, sinful hypocrisy.”

Citing ill health, Pell declined to return to Australia to give evidence to the royal commission in person last year and instead gave evidence by videolink from Rome. In February this year the Australian senate called on the cardinal to return home “to assist the Victorian police and office of public prosecutions with their investigation into these matters.”

Pell dismissed the parliamentary resolution as “an interference on the part of the Senate in the due process of the Victoria Police investigation.”

According to reports, the police have now twice sent briefs of evidence concerning Pell to the Victorian office of public prosecutions.

The Guardian is not claiming Cardinal Pell is guilty of any allegations of sex abuse, only that they have been investigated by police.

Operation Sano continues.

The Guardian contacted the Vatican, Pell’s office in Rome and his office in Australia for comment.

Complete Article HERE!

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05/9/17

Minnesota bishop accused of coercion in clergy abuse case

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Lawsuit accuses Crookston bishop of threatening alleged abuse victim and failing to report abuse. 

Patty Vasek looked on as her husband Ron Vasek said he was abused by Msgr. Roger Grundhaus at 16 and how 46 years later, as Ron studied to become a deacon, Bishop Hoeppner threatened to prevent him from becoming a deacon

Crookston Bishop Michael Hoeppner threatened to retaliate against a man who told him that a former top official in the Crookston diocese had sexually molested him as a child, according to a lawsuit filed in Polk County district court.

It marks the first time in the nation that a U.S. bishop has been individually sued for coercion in a clergy abuse lawsuit, said attorney Jeff Anderson, who is holding a news conference at 11 a.m. Tuesday.

The lawsuit, filed by Ronald Vasek, also claims that the bishop failed to release the sex abuse allegation against the now-retired Monsignor Roger Grundhaus as required by a 2015 court order.

“The coercion and concealment in real-time demonstrates the crisis continues, ” said Anderson.

More than 500 claims of sex abuse by Minnesota clergy have been made in the past four years, most through a three-year law that allowed older civil cases to be filed. Catholic leaders across the state have said that the abuse scandal is in the past, and that reforms have been made.

The lawsuit, however, claims that Vasek met with Hoeppner in 2010 and reported that Grundhaus has engaged in unpermitted sexual contact with him in about 1971. Vasek was 16 at the time, and had been invited to accompany Grundhaus on a trip to Ohio for a meeting of canon lawyers, the complaint says.

Bishop Hoeppner

Vasek also reportedly asked the bishop how the allegation would affect his involvement in the diocese’s church deacon program. The bishop told him it wouldn’t be a problem, the complaint says, as long as he didn’t tell anyone else.

Grundhaus’ abuse report apparently was put in the diocese’s then-confidential abuse files.

In 2014, those files were supposed to be made public as part of a court order from a different clergy abuse case. In October of 2015, Vasek claims that the bishop summoned him to his private residence.

The bishop asked Vasek to sign a diocese-written letter retracting the abuse allegation, according to the complaint, because “Msgr. Grundhaus was unable to minister in the other diocese because they had plaintiff’s report of abuse in their files.”

The letter was authored by Msgr. Michael Foltz, the Crookston diocese vicar general, the lawsuit says. Vasek said he was threatened with retaliation if he didn’t sign it.

According to the complaint: “The bishop indicated to the plaintiff that if he should refuse to sign the letter, the bishop would have difficulty ordaining plaintiff as a deacon … and that plaintiff’s son’s priesthood in the Diocese of Crookston would be negatively impacted.”

Since 2014, Crookston has released the names of six priests who were credibly accused of sexually molesting minors. Grundhaus is not on that list. The diocese also is as a defendant in the lawsuit.

At the news conference, Vasek and his son will speak publicly for the first time about the incident.

The Crookston Diocese said it is “deeply saddened and troubled” by the allegations, and plans to “conduct a thorough investigation into this matter.”

“Bishop Hoeppner categorically denies that he in any way forced, coerced or encouraged Mr. Vasek not to pursue his allegations regarding Mons. Grundhaus,’’ the diocese said in a written statement.

Complete Article HERE!

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04/19/17

Late Ottawa Catholic bishop who managed sex abuse complaints now accused of sex abuse

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An Ottawa man says he was sexually abused in August 1979 by Bishop John Beahan, who was then one of the most powerful figures in the Archdiocese of Ottawa.


An Ottawa man says he was sexually abused in August 1979 by the late Bishop John Beahan, who was once the second-highest-ranking member of the Ottawa clergy

By Andrew Duffy

The man, now 52, has launched a $2-million lawsuit against the Catholic archdiocese. It represents the first time that Beahan, once the second-highest-ranking member of the Ottawa clergy, has been named in a sex abuse lawsuit.

The allegations also raise a potential motive for Beahan to dismiss sex abuse claims made against fellow clergy members in the 1970s and 80s.

Appointed auxiliary bishop in May 1977, Beahan also served for 12 years as vicar general — essentially, the archdiocese’s chief administrative officer — until he suffered a fatal stroke in March 1988. In his role as vicar general, Beahan would have been responsible for managing complaints lodged against abusive priests.

In a statement of claim filed earlier this month, the man — identified only as M.D. — says he was an altar boy at Nepean’s St. Maurice Parish in the late 1970s, when Rev. Dale Crampton was pastor.

Crampton is the most notorious perpetrator in Ottawa’s clergy sexual abuse scandal, a pedophile with more than 10 known victims. He killed himself in October 2010 by jumping from an Ottawa highrise.

M.D. claims that Crampton sexually abused him for two years from time he was 13 years old.

In an interview with the Citizen, M.D. said Crampton invited him to a West Carleton cottage in August 1979. M.D. said he agreed to go because he didn’t want to explain to his parents why he was reluctant to spend time alone with the priest.

Bishop Beahan appeared at the cottage unannounced on Saturday afternoon. “I sat down beside him, we were kind of introduced, and then I remember Father Crampton said he had to go into town to do groceries or something,” M.D. said. “He left me and Bishop Beahan alone.”

They talked for a while, M.D. said, until Beahan began to flatter him, touch, kiss and fondle him. The bishop, he said, asked, “Does Father Dale do this, too?” They moved to Crampton’s bedroom, M.D. said, where the abuse escalated to masturbation and simulated sex acts.

“I remember thinking, ‘Man, I’ve been set up here,” he said. “I was nervous, scared, confused, all three.”

At one point, he heard Crampon return from his errand, but the priest did not intervene. “I wanted to go home,” he said. “I was so concerned they’d come into my room (that night), but they never did. They did drink quite a bit.”

Beahan was gone the next morning.

The lawsuit’s allegations are still to be tested in court. A spokesman for the diocese, Deacon Gilles Ouellette, said it does not comment on matters before the courts.

M.D. said he didn’t deal with the emotional turmoil caused by his abuse for decades, and relied on alcohol to numb the pain: He developed a stutter, was uncertain of his sexuality, found intimacy difficult, and was often suicidal. It was only after reading about Crampton’s history of abuse in the Citizen last year that he resolved to confront his past.

He told his therapist, then his wife, children, siblings and parents about what happened. A father of three, M.D. said all of his most important relationships have been damaged by it. “My children deserved a more attentive, loving father,” said M.D., who works in the funeral services industry.

M.D.’s lawyer, Rob Talach, said his client’s allegations support the notion that there existed in the 1970s and 80s a close-knit circle of child abusers in the Ottawa clergy, and that Beahan — the senior diocesan official responsible for managing abuse complaints — was part of it. “When the shepherd is the wolf,” he said, “it’s pretty hard to protect the flock.”

In June 1986, Crampton was charged after a group of parents from St. Maurice Parish went to the police with sex abuse allegations. The parents approached police in March after becoming frustrated by the inaction of then Archbishop Joseph-Aurèle Plourde and Bishop Beahan.

Crampton was at the hub of the archdiocese’s small circle of child abusers.

He was a longtime friend of Rev. Barry McGrory, who was convicted in 1993 of sexual assault, and now faces charges in connection with three other alleged victims. Crampton and McGrory were friends while students at St. Patrick’s High School in Ottawa, and later attended the seminary together.

As a young priest, Crampton travelled with Beahan to New York City for the visit of Pope Paul VI in October 1965, and worked with him at St. Elizabeth Parish.

In 1974, Crampton became one of two priests elected to the Ottawa Catholic School Board. His Catholic board colleague, Rev. Kenneth Keeler, would be charged with abusing three boys in the 1970s and 80s.

Keeler’s criminal trial was halted by his sudden guilty plea. During early testimony, court heard that the priest would select young boys to share his bed at St. Brigid’s Summer Camp for needy children in Low, Quebec. One witness also testified that he saw what appeared to be Keeler masturbating Beahan on a cottage balcony at the camp. Keeler denied the incident took place.

Complete Article HERE!

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04/7/17

Pope dismisses priest who stole $300K from bishop, hospital

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Edward J. Arsenault

Pope Francis has dismissed a Roman Catholic priest from New Hampshire who was convicted of stealing $300,000 from a hospital, a bishop and a deceased priest’s estate.

Monsignor Edward Arsenault, who served as the face of the church in the state during a sex abuse scandal, pleaded guilty to three theft charges in 2014. He was transferred Tuesday to home confinement and is up for parole Feb. 19, 2018.

The Diocese of Manchester said Friday that Arsenault was removed from the priesthood Feb. 29 and no longer has “faculties to act, function, or present himself as a priest.”

“Dismissing a priest from the clerical state is very serious and taken very seriously by the Holy See,” said Father Georges de Laire, the Diocese’s vicar for canonical affairs, who conveyed the decision to Arsenault on Thursday.

“It is not a decision that is reached lightly as it implies pain for the former cleric and those who may have been affected by him,” he said.

Arsenault could not be reached for comment Friday. Prosecutors said Arsenault billed the church for lavish meals and travel for himself and often a male partner.

He was convicted of writing checks from the dead priest’s estate to himself and his brother and billing a hospital $250 an hour for consulting work he never did.

Arsenault held senior positions in the New Hampshire diocese from 1999 to 2009. He had been the top lieutenant for then-Bishop John McCormack, handling both a clergy sexual abuse crisis in New Hampshire and orchestrating the church’s new child protection policies.

In 2009, Arsenault became president and CEO of Saint Luke Institute in Maryland. He resigned in 2013 as allegations arose over the misuse of church funds.

The investigation did not involve Saint Luke, a prominent education and counseling center based in Silver Spring, Maryland, with sites in other parts of the United States and in Britain. The center treats priests with a range of mental illnesses and has played a key role in addressing the problem of sexually abusive clergy.

Complete Article HERE!

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04/6/17

Renegade Catholic order in UK ‘harbours clergy accused of sexual abuse’

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Two priests accused of abuse allegedly found refuge in Kent with Holocaust denier Richard Williamson’s SSPX Resistance

Richard Williamson ordained a bishop without papal approval in 2015 and was excommunicated by the Vatican.

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A British Catholic priest who has been excommunicated twice by different popes is allegedly harbouring clergy accused of sexual abuse in his renegade religious order.

Richard Williamson, who was illicitly ordained as a bishop in 1988 by an ultra-conservative group, the Society of St Pius X (SSPX), and later convicted of Holocaust denial by a German court, is now head of the “SSPX Resistance”, based in Broadstairs, Kent.

Two Catholic SSPX priests who have been accused of sexual abuse have found a refuge in Williamson’s breakaway movement, according to an investigative documentary to be aired on Swedish television on Wednesday.

The Golden Jail, made by Ali Fegan, a Swedish journalist whose interview with Williamson about his Holocaust denial was broadcast in 2009, claims that the SSPX protected priests and failed to report claims of abuse to the police or civil authorities. Internal canonical trials of two men – one French, one English – were allegedly conducted with Vatican approval.

The English priest, referred to as Father S, left the SSPX before the conclusion of the trial to join the SSPX Resistance in 2014, going to live in Broadstairs. He declined to speak to the documentary team.

The French priest, Father P, was found guilty and banned from working with children. He joined the SSPX Resistance, and was filmed celebrating mass at a church in Bordeaux last November. He also refused to discuss allegations against him with the TV journalists.

Williamson’s movement, also known as Respice Stellam, describes itself as “a group of traditional Catholics who wish to practise their faith without compromise to liberalism or modernism”. It says reforms over recent decades have “contributed and are still contributing to the destruction of the church, to the ruin of the priesthood, to the abolition of the sacrifice of the mass and of the sacraments, to the disappearance of religious life.”

More than 100 former SSPX priests around the world have joined the renegade order, according to the documentary. Its headquarters is in a detached property in Broadstairs, named Regina Martyrum House, with a statue of the Virgin Mary in the front garden.

Members of the UK branch of SSPX Resistance celebrate mass each Sunday in a hired room in Earlsfield public library in south London, which recently put on a display of books for Holocaust Memorial Day. A spokesperson for GLL, which manages the library, said: “The hall booking is with the Stella Maris Mass Fund – which is a registered charity.” The booking had been running since January 2015 with no problems reported, the spokesperson said.

Mass is also celebrated by the group in Bingley, West Yorkshire, and Liverpool.

The SSPX confirmed that Father S and Father P were accused of sexual abuse when priests in the order, that canonical trials were held, and that both men later joined the SSPX Resistance.

In the case of Father S, an allegation of sexual abuse was reported to civil authorities in France where he was based at the time, the order said. The SSPX moved Father S to Bristol, where he had therapy for several years. The civil authorities closed the case without further action, according to SSPX. His canonical trial was still in process when the priest left the order to join Williamson’s group.

Father P was found guilty and forbidden to work with children, although permitted to celebrate mass. The families of his alleged victims said they did not wish a complaint to be made to the civil authorities.

“The SSPX, under no legal obligation to report at that time, chose to respect the wishes of these parents,” said the SSPX statement. An alleged victim did make a complaint 25 years later to the police, who are currently investigating, it said, adding: “A number of our priests are cooperating.”

Williamson, who did not respond to Fegan’s or the Guardian’s requests for comment on the allegations regarding the two priests, has a turbulent history in the Catholic church.

The son of an Anglican vicar, he was educated at Winchester College and Cambridge, and later converted to Catholicism. He joined the SSPX, which was highly critical of what it saw as a moral and theological crisis in the church in the aftermath of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s, which sought to make Catholicism more relevant to the modern world.

In 1988, Williamson was one of four SSPX priests ordained as bishops by the SSPX founder, archbishop Marcel Lefebvre, against the orders of Pope John Paul II. All four were instantly excommunicated.

But in January 2009, the excommunication was reversed by Pope Benedict XVI in an attempt at reconciliation with the order. Three days earlier, in a filmed interview with Fegan, Williamson insisted that no Jews were killed in Nazi gas chambers. The Vatican said it had not known of Williamson’s Holocaust denial when it lifted the excommunication.

The move came under fire from Jewish groups and the German chancellor, Angela Merkel. In February 2009, a German court fined Williamson €12,000 after convicting him of Holocaust denial. In 2014 the conviction was upheld on appeal but the fine reduced to €1,600.

The Vatican’s rapprochement with SSPX has continued under Pope Francis, who this week paved the way for recognition of marriages conducted by the order’s priests.

In 2012, Williamson was expelled from SSPX, allegedly for failing to show respect and obedience. He immediately called for a Catholic “resistance”.

Two years ago, Williamson ordained without papal approval another former SSPX priest, Jean-Michel Faure, as a bishop at a ceremony in Brazil. Both Williamson and Faure were excommunicated by the Vatican.

In an email to his supporters around the time of the illicit ordination, Williamson said the “nightingale’s nest” of the Catholic church had been occupied by “modernist cuckoos”.

“Wherever the remainder of the true nightingales are visibly gathered, in whatever makeshift nest, they are in the church, they are the true visible church, and their beautiful song testifies to anyone who has ears to hear that the cuckoos are nothing but cuckoos who have stolen the catholic nest which they presently occupy,” he wrote.

Complete Article HERE!

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