NZ priest’s secret children to come out of hiding

The secret children of a Catholic priest in New Zealand are about to reveal their identity to their local bishop, and a New Zealander who personally briefed the Pope on the topic says the Vatican has recognised the right to know one’s parents

By Phil Pennington

The adult siblings are among thousands internationally who have contacted the Coping International website, which offers support to the children of clergy.

The site’s founder Vincent Doyle – an Irish man who himself is the son of a priest – said he expected many more New Zealanders who are priests’ children, or their mothers, to come forward as they gained courage to speak up.

“We’ve been contacted from a number of people in New Zealand – one family where there’s more than one child to the same priest, to the same woman – but they’re going to be making moves in the coming future to the respective diocese and they’ll be contacting the bishop concerned.”

The family had contacted his website in the last three months, and granted him permission to speak a little about their situation, but most details remained confidential such as how many children there were and where they had grown up.

They were among 13,500 people worldwide who had been in touch with Mr Doyle since he started the website in late 2014.

Vincent Doyle meets Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Permanent Representative of the Holy See to the United Nations, in mid-October to talk about the children of clergy.

His site gained international prominence in August this year when featured in a new series by the Boston Globe’s Spotlight unit, which is famous for exposing clerical sex abuse of children.

The response to the website has forced the Vatican to acknowledge the issue, and last month it began working on guidelines for how to respond.

“The expectation would be that the [priest] should go and be a father to his child,” said Bill Kilgallon, an Aucklander who personally briefed the Pope last month on the issue as part of the Pontifical Commission to help protect children.

Mr Kilgallon said the Catholic Church had no idea yet how many children have been conceived by priests.

The search phrase “I am pregnant and the father is a Catholic priest” featured in about 1500 of 96,000 hits on Coping International’s website, which its founder pointed out would be mostly from English speakers with Internet access.

“How many don’t fall into that category?” Mr Doyle said.

A psychotherapist in his 30s, he found out six years ago that his godfather, Father John Doyle, was also his biological father.

He made the realisation when he came across some poetry the priest had written, and had since taken his father’s name.

The church hierarchy had mostly responded well when children had come forward, Mr Doyle said, although some priests had been shocked or resistant.

The youngest child they had been alerted to was just three years old, and the oldest an 80-year-old woman. In one case, they knew of a priest who had six children by different women, while one priest who worked in the United States had a family in the Philippines.

Mr Doyle insisted the clerical response was not the priority for his organisation, but rather the goal was to help children whose mental health had suffered without knowledge of their father, or having to keep that knowledge secret as with the New Zealand family.

“There have been efforts to kind of stifle their wellbeing, and to keep them quiet and enforce secrecy,” Mr Doyle said.

“This secrecy more than often comes from family or relatives or friends: the community around you. Not the Pope, the Vatican, the bishop, especially in today’s society in a country like New Zealand.

“They must, must get this right. This is the first time in history the church has really done this … they can’t just put out some guidelines… If they mess this up they will traumatise thousands of people.”

Mr Kilgallon acknowledged there might be complications, such as a priest’s financial obligations to a child, or the need for DNA paternity testing, but these were purely secondary to the primary responsibility of the priest.

“We’ve acknowledged … children have rights and one of the rights is to know their parents.”

“The difficulty is when children are born in a situation where the father is a priest who’s not supposed to be in a relationship and fathering children. This can often lead to the relationship being kept secret, the identity of the father being denied to the child.”

Complete Article HERE!


Retired priest: Catholic church knew of Guam sex abuses for decades

By Haidee V Eugenio


World’s largest clergy abuse survivors network says abusive priests ‘dumped’ in faraway places

Guam’s Catholic church leadership has known for decades about clergy sex abuses that happened as early as the 1950s, a retired priest said in a signed statement released Nov. 1. The statement was released in connection with civil lawsuits filed by several former altar boys, who allege sexual abuse at the hands of Guam priests decades ago.

He said his only form of punishment for molesting at least 20 boys at the time was to say prayers — as instructed by then-Archbishop Apollinaris W. Baumgartner.

Retired priest Louis Brouillard, now 95 and living in Minnesota, said his sexual contact with children when he was on Guam was known to other priests, including Baumgartner, the highest Catholic leader on Guam from 1945 to 1970. Brouillard served as a priest on island from the late 1940s to 1981.

Brouillard said Baumgartner approached him to talk about the “situation.”

“I was told to try to do better and say prayers as a penance,” Brouillard wrote. “I believe the Catholic Church should be honest and truthful regarding what happened on Guam during my time there.”

Brouillard made a video at his Pine City, Minnesota, residence and signed a written statement dated Oct. 3 in support of a former altar boy’s Nov. 1 lawsuit against him for allegedly sexually abusing him six decades ago.

“I am making this video to reach out to the parishioners of the Archdiocese of Guam, and anyone I may have harmed, to ask forgiveness for action done by me many years ago,” Brouillard said in the statement attached to the lawsuit against him and others.

Leo Tudela, 73, pulls off his eyeglasses as he is overcome with emotions during his testimony in support of Bill 326 at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna on Monday, Aug. 1. Tudela testified that as a child, he served as an altar boy with the Mount Carmel Church in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan until he was given the opportunity to attend Catholic school on Guam. Tudela told lawmakers during his testimony that he was sexually abused by three members of Guam's Catholic Church, including a priest, on three different occasions.

Leo Tudela, 73, pulls off his eyeglasses as he is overcome with emotions during his testimony in support of Bill 326 at the Guam Legislature in Hagatna on Monday, Aug. 1. Tudela testified that as a child, he served as an altar boy with the Mount Carmel Church in Chalan Kanoa, Saipan until he was given the opportunity to attend Catholic school on Guam. Tudela told lawmakers during his testimony that he was sexually abused by three members of Guam’s Catholic Church, including a priest, on three different occasions.

Leo Tudela, now 73, said Brouillard sexually abused him at a church rectory and during Boy Scouts of America activities in the 1950s. Tudela said the abuse started when he was 13 years old.

Through attorney David Lujan, Tudela sued not only Brouillard but also the Archdiocese of Agana and up to 50 other people who may have a role in covering up, concealing or disguising Brouillard’s sex abuses, among other things, the lawsuit states.

On Aug. 1, Tudela publicly accused Brouillard of sex abuse when Tudela testified in support of a bill lifting the statute of limitations for child sex abuse cases. A few days later, Brouillard, who was called at his Minnesota home, admitted that he abused multiple boys while he was a priest on Guam.

The church and some of its priests on Guam can be sued over sex abuses for the very first time only this year, courtesy of a new law that lifts all civil statutes for child sex abuse cases.

‘Geographic solution’

Brouillard, who was ordained as a priest on Guam in 1948, left the island in 1981.

Although church leadership on Guam was aware of Brouillard’s sexual abuse of boys on Guam, Brouillard left island and was allowed to serve as a priest in at least three parishes in Minnesota.

It was only in 1995 that Brouillard was removed from ministry, following credible allegations of child sexual abusethere.

The world’s largest and oldest network of clergy abuse survivors, called the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said Brouillard’s case is not unique.

“He was given what advocates like to call ‘the geographic solution.’ Brouillard was sent as far away as possible so that victims could not find him. He was still paid so that he would keep quiet,” said Joelle Casteix, SNAP’s volunteer Western regional director.

“Abusive priests are dumped in unsuspecting communities so that the priest and his home diocese can escape legal accountability. The fact that Brouillard somewhat admitted his crimes is remarkable. Hopefully, that gave his brave victims some sense of vindication,” Casteix said.

It is also only this year, starting in May, that former altar boys have come forward to publicly accuse priests on Guam of sexually abusing them decades ago. Former accusations against priests were done by relatives of alleged victims.

Current and former members of the Catholic church who have so far been publicly accused of sexual abuse include Archbishop Anthony S. Apuron, who is now facing a canonical trial at the Vatican, Brouillard, and the late Brother Mariano R. Laniyo.

The late priest John H. Sutton, who worked on Guam from 1971 to 1974, was accused in 2015 by a man of raping him repeatedly when he was a student in Texas.

In 2014, the San Francisco Archdiocese in California removed the Rev. John Howard from ministering in the city after he was removed from his post on Guam over allegations he molested two boys four decades ago while serving in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.

Tudela is not the only former altar boy who has sued the Archdiocese of Agana and clergy members over sex abuse. Three others — Roland Sondia, Walter Denton and Roy Quintanilla — filed separate lawsuits on Nov. 1 against Archbiship Anthony Apuron, the archdiocese and up to 50 others. They allege Apuron sexually abused them in the 1970s, when he was parish priest in Agat.

Lujan said he is representing at least a dozen more victims of alleged child sex abuse on Guam, and the alleged perpetrators include other priests who were not previously publicly accused.

The second batch of lawsuits involving former altar boys and others is expected to be filed this week, Lujan said.

‘Crossed the line’

Brouillard’s two-page signed statement outlines his sex abuse of minors during the more than four decades he was on Guam, holding many positions in the Catholic church.

He managed the Boy Scouts and served as its president on Guam. He was assigned at the Santa Teresita Church in Mangilao. His other job was teaching sexual education to the boys in the parish.

“Looking back now, I realize that I crossed the line with some of my actions and relationships with the boys,” Brouillard said. “During some of the sex education talks, while at Santa Teresita, I did touch the (private parts) of some of the boys and some of the boys did perform oral sex on me. Some of these incidents took place in Mangilao at the rectory of the Santa Teresita Church.”

Brouillard said because of the many years that have passed, he does not remember the exact dates and times or the names of the boys involved.

“There may have been 20 or more boys involved. Other locations where the sexual contact may have happened would be at San Vicente and Father Duenas Memorial Schools,” he said. “At that time, I did believe that the boys enjoyed the sexual contact and I also had self-gratification as well.”

Brouillard said he has come to learn the name of one of the boys he had sexual contact with at the Santa Teresita rectory.

“His name is Leo Tudela. He is from the island of Saipan. I apologize to you Leo and the rest of the boys that I may have harmed. I regret with all my heart any wrong I did to them. I pray for all the boys I may have harmed and ask for their forgiveness and for forgiveness from God,” the retired priest said.

Meanwhile, Pope Francis named on Oct. 31 a successor to Archbishop Apuron, now 71.

The pope appointed Detroit Bishop Michael Jude Byrnes as coadjutor archbishop of the Archdiocese of Agana. As coadjutor archbishop, Byrnes has the right to succeed Apuron if Apuron resigns, retires or is removed. Under church law, bishops are required to resign at 75. Byrnes arrives on Guam on Nov. 28.

Editor’s note: A previously published version of the story named another priest as someone who had been removed by the San Francisco Archdiocese in 2014. The priest who was removed was the Rev. John Howard.

Complete Article HERE!


Court files reveal new details behind St. Paul Archdiocese troubles

Documents give more insight into investigation of former Archbishop John Nienstedt and ex-priest Curtis Wehmeyer.



Former Minneapolis-St. Paul Archbishop John Nienstedt, shown in 2015, drew concern over his interactions with seminarians during his time in St. Paul, according to recently released documents.

The Ramsey County attorney’s office released the final mountain of documents from its criminal investigation into the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis this week, providing new details of allegations of sexual advances by former Archbishop John Nienstedt and of the church’s mishandling of convicted sex offender Curtis Wehmeyer.

Nienstedt’s interactions with seminarians drew concern from young men and clergy leaders more recently than had been revealed before, including during his seven-year tenure in St. Paul ending in 2015, according to files. That’s in addition to the previously reported allegations of sexual improprieties with adult men made by former colleagues in the Detroit area dating to the 1970s.

Documents show that former Archbishop Harry Flynn — like Nienstedt — gave special attention to Wehmeyer, a former priest, including overriding a 1996 recommendation by the archdiocese’s vocation office that Wehmeyer not be admitted into seminary.

By 2013, and after multiple episodes of sexual misconduct, Wehmeyer was convicted of sexually abusing two boys in Wehmeyer’s camper when it was parked outside his St. Paul church. He was sentenced to five years in prison.

Documents also indicate that Wehmeyer used that camper to visit the lake home of Joseph Kueppers, the archdiocese’s chancellor for civil affairs, where Wehmeyer would spend some weekends from about 2007 to 2012. According to a deacon with a lake home nearby, Wehmeyer sometimes performed Sunday masses at the lake home. Kueppers, a former parishioner of Wehmeyer, was noted for “not disclosing information” by attorneys investigating Nienstedt.

Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, pleaded guilty in 2012 to molesting two children.

Curtis Wehmeyer, a former priest in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, pleaded guilty in 2012 to molesting two children.

Nienstedt, who had a social relationship with Wehmeyer, has denied any sexual relationship with him. In files from the St. Paul police investigation also made available this week, Wehmeyer says the same, that he had no sexual relationship with the archbishop. He blames much of his troubles on his drinking.

The wide-ranging documents — edited for confidentiality — represent the final pieces of the investigation completed by Ramsey County Attorney John Choi this year. Choi had filed a criminal lawsuit against the archdiocese, charging it with failure to protect children in the Wehmeyer case. The charges were dropped in July in an agreement requiring the archdiocese to publicly admit its guilt and follow new procedures in dealing with abuse.<

The nearly 1,000 pages of documents were released in response to a freedom of information request filed by the Star Tribune.

The county looked into whether Nienstedt or the archdiocese gave preferential treatment to Wehmeyer over the years. The question arose because Wehmeyer had so many red flags — including soliciting sex in a bookstore, using boys’ bathroom in a parish school, apparent cruising for sex in a park and angry outbursts.

A team from Kinsale Management Consulting that was asked to review the personnel files leading up to Wehmeyer’s sex abuse charges concluded, “If he hasn’t offended already, he’s going to,” according to a St. Paul police investigator.

The files include archdiocese correspondence, interviews with archdiocese officials involved in clergy misconduct issues, statements filed in the Nienstedt investigation, and interviews by county attorney investigators. They follow a batch of court files released by Choi in July.

The documents indicate new allegations against Nienstedt. A former seminarian at St. Paul Seminary told investigators that before a group photo with Nienstedt at a 2010 event at the new Twins stadium, Nienstedt put his arm around him and “caressed my neck and back in a manner that was very uncomfortable to me.”

A former St. Paul priest reported he left the priesthood about 10 years ago because of a friendship with Nienstedt that became uncomfortable, and that the former archbishop seems to have derailed his attempt to become a priest again in another diocese.

Likewise, a seminarian from Nienstedt’s days in Michigan, who claimed he also rebuffed a Nienstedt advance, said he believes the former archbishop tried to undermine his career because he didn’t want to work in the same place as Nienstedt.

“There are troubling patterns suggested by the evidence thus far: alleged unwelcome advances, inappropriate interaction with seminarians, and reprisals among those that don’t reciprocate those advances,” wrote an archdiocese official in a 2015 memo to archdiocese leadership.

He notes that some archdiocese staff have noted “odd letters written to seminarians … in which warm and affectionate language is used.”

Nienstedt has repeatedly stated he has not engaged in sexual misconduct, and blamed some of the reports on the tough stance he has taken on gay marriage.

“I am a heterosexual man who has been celibate my entire life,” Nienstedt wrote in July. “I have never solicited sex, improperly touched anyone and have not used my authority to cover up, or even try to cover up, any allegation of sexual abuse.”

Rev. Kevin McDonough, the archdiocese’s longtime point person on clergy abuse, is discussed in some files. A consultant working at St. Peter Claver Church in St. Paul, which McDonough also served, recalled the priest there saying, “I have to get someone out of town quickly.”

This was after a priest had been accused of sexually abusing the daughter of a woman with whom the priest had been having an affair, said the consultant. Boxes of the priest’s belongings were stored at St. Peter Claver, the consultant said

Another St. Peter Claver consultant said that McDonough did not use his own computer for much or most of his work, but rather used his assistant’s. And McDonough refused to let the consultant recycle and reuse church computers.

In a 2013 letter to members of St. Peter and Incarnation Church, which he also oversaw, McDonough attacked abuse victims’ request for the archdiocese to make public the list of priests accused of sexually abusing minors. “This is a content-less issue,” he wrote, as many of the people on the list haven’t been criminally charged but didn’t have a chance to defend themselves. “Nothing in this issue, I believe, has any direct personal relation to me.”

Subsequent document releases indicated McDonough’s involvement in various cases.

The St. Paul police files include an interview with Wehmeyer speaking from prison to police investigators. The former priest attributed his egregious behavior to excessive drinking and to coping with his own personal issues, adding “I’ve got a lot to deal with.”

Complete Article HERE!


Deep pocketed interests denied justice to church abuse survivors

By Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

child sex abuse

I have said it before and I will say it again:

Accountability and transparency for the crimes of childhood sexual abuse today and in the future absolves no one from the accountability and transparency for the sexual crimes committed against children in the past.

Deep pockets denied the rights of all those who were sexually abused as children.

Their right to access justice in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania was denied them by groups that had much to lose; the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, the Altoona-Johnstown Diocese along with the other Pennsylvania dioceses as well as the insurance industry and  and several business lobby groups.

Mostly, however, the opposition to the retroactive measure, statute of limitation reform, was led by Archbishop Charles Chaput, by way of the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference which he leads, and the heads of the Pennsylvania dioceses who dutifully follow orders.

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

Sister Maureen Paul Turlish

And why? Is it money? Hardly.

Keep in mind that about $10 million dollars has been spent defending Msgr. William Lynn.

One can only guess at how much the public relations firm and the lobbyists from the Pennsylvania Catholic Conference are costing [the church]. That will likely never be known.

Then what is it?

It’s the fact that the bishops, the members of the hierarchy, will continue to do whatever they have to do, and what they have done for decades if not centuries.

And that is to do whatever it takes to protect a powerful institution and its secrets.

The safety and protection of the most vulnerable, the children, was never their priority regardless of the words of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Complete Article HERE!


More smoke and mirrors from the Vatican on child sexual abuse

By Kieran Tapsell

Cardinal Desmond Connell, the former archbishop of Dublin, told the Murphy commission in Ireland that mental reservation was deceiving someone without telling a lie. He said it is permissible to use “an ambiguous expression realising that the person who you are talking to will accept an untrue version of whatever it may be.”There is an exquisite piece of mental reservation in a recent announcement from the Vatican. According to Vatican Radio, “The Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors presented a five point plan to the Pope and his closest advisors at this week’s meeting, including the establishment of a ‘new judicial section’ to examine all cases of bishops accused of abusing their office and failing to report crimes committed by priests in their care.”Kieran TapsellThe ambiguous expression in this case is “failing to report crimes” because it does not say to whom the bishops should have reported. Nearly everyone would understand the expression to mean reporting to the police. That is not what the Vatican means. It means reporting to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in every case and only sometimes to the police.

As the Holy See told the Irish foreign minister in 2011, bishops are the governors of their own diocese, and so far as the church is concerned, the only restraint on them is canon law. Bishops can only be put on trial before this new tribunal for breaching canon law. A bishop who fails to report credible allegations of child sexual abuse by clergy to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith is in breach of canon law because that obligation is set out in the decree Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.

Likewise, canon law in the United States since 2002, and for the rest of the world since 2010, requires bishops to comply with domestic civil reporting laws. A failure to do so constitutes a breach of canon law. The recently resigned bishops — Archbishop John Nienstedt and Auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché of St. Paul-Minneapolis and Bishop Robert Finn of Kansas City-St. Joseph, Mo., who was convicted by a Missouri court of failing to report a priest’s possession of child pornography — could be brought before the new tribunal for failing to comply with civil laws on reporting as required by the norms approved in December 2002 by the Holy See for the United States.

Very few jurisdictions in the world have comprehensive reporting laws. Most have reporting laws for children at risk, that is, where they are under the age of 18, but very few have reporting laws that apply to historical abuse, that is, where the abused person is now an adult. In the United States, half the states have such laws and half do not. The United Kingdom, Germany, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Canada do not have them. In 2014 and 2015, the Italian and Polish Catholic bishops’ conferences announced that they would not be reporting child sex abuse offenses by clergy to the police because their civil laws did not require it. Their stance is consistent with canon law.

In Australia, only two out of the eight states and territories require the reporting of historical abuse. Figures produced at the Victorian parliamentary inquiry in Australia suggest that historical abuse amounts to more than 99 percent of all complaints. The same inquiry found that of the 611 complaints of child sexual abuse in the four Victorian dioceses between 1996 and 2012, not one of them had been reported by the church to the civil authorities.

This was understandable because prior to 2014, there was no requirement under Victorian law to report any abuse, whether of children at risk or historical abuse. And the bishops on ordination had sworn an oath to obey all ecclesiastical laws, which in this case meant not reporting these crimes to the police in accordance with the pontifical secret imposed by Pope Paul VI’s Secreta Continere and Pope John Paul II’s Sacramentorum Sanctitatis Tutela.

In those jurisdictions without such reporting laws, unless a bishop walks into a priest’s bedroom and finds him in flagrante delicto with a minor, the pontifical secret prevents him from reporting any knowledge of or allegations about such crimes to the police. If he reports the matter to the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, he has complied with canon law and cannot be charged with “abuse of office,” despite the fact that he has covered up these crimes by not reporting them to the police.

On two occasions now, the U.N. Committee on the Rights of the Child and the Committee against Torture demanded that the Holy See abolish the pontifical secret for child sexual abuse and order mandatory reporting under canon law, irrespective of whether there are civil reporting laws or not. On Sept. 26, 2014, the Holy See rejected the request.

Many media reports describe the setting up of this tribunal as a breakthrough. There is no breakthrough. The announcement does not do away with the pontifical secret and does not extend reporting requirements to the civil authorities. In many cases of cover-up by bishops, there will be no abuse of office because the cover-up has been required by canon law, as the announcements by the Italian and Polish bishops attest.

The pope has always had jurisdiction to dismiss or punish bishops like Nienstedt, Piché and Finn, who have breached canon law. He even has jurisdiction to dismiss them even where they have not breached canon law, as the case of the Australian Bishop William Morris shows.

This announcement is being dressed up as a measure to protect children when all it is doing is setting up a tribunal that would ensure that bishops accused of breaching canon law have the right to be heard. It is another example of clericalism creating smoke and mirrors to give the impression that better protections are being provided for children when the people being looked after are the bishops. The real breakthrough will happen when the Holy See complies with the demands of the United Nations.
Complete Article HERE!