Pope Francis says 2% of clerics are sexual abusers

Italian newspaper, La Repubblica, quotes Pope Francis

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About two per cent of Roman Catholic clerics are sexual abusers, an Italian newspaper on Sunday quoted Pope Francis as saying, adding that the pontiff considered the crime “a leprosy in our house”.

But the Vatican issued a statement saying some parts of a long article in the left-leaning La Repubblica were not accurate, including one that quoted the Pope as saying that there were cardinals among the abusers.

The article was a reconstruction of an hour-long conversation between the pope and the newspaper’s founder, Eugenio Scalfari, an atheist who has written about several past encounters with the Pope.

Pope disheartened by ‘very grave’ data

“Many of my collaborators who fight with me (against paedophilia) reassure me with reliable statistics that say that the level of paedophilia in the Church is at about two per cent,” Francis was quoted as saying.

“This data should hearten me, but I have to tell you that it does not hearten me at all. In fact, I think that it is very grave,” he was quoted as saying.

The pope was quoted as saying that, while most paedophilia took place in family situations, “even we have this leprosy in our house”.

According to Church statistics for 2012, the latest available, there are about 414,000 Roman Catholic priests in the world.

The Vatican issued a statement noting Scalfari’s tradition of having long conversations with public figures without taking notes or taping them, and then reconstructing them from memory. Scalfari, 90, is one of Italy’s best known journalists.

While acknowledging that the conversation had taken place, Vatican spokesman Father Federico Lombardi issued a statement saying that not all the phrases could be attributed “with certainty” to the Pope.

Lombardi said that, in particular, a quote attributed to the Pope saying cardinals were among the sex abusers was not accurate and accused the paper of trying to “manipulate naive readers”.

Last week, the Argentine Pope held his first meeting with victims of sexual abuse by priests.

He told them the Church should “weep and make reparation” for crimes that he said had taken on the dimensions of a sacrilegious cult. He vowed zero tolerance for abusers and said bishops would be held accountable if they covered up crimes by priests in their diocese.

Complete Article HERE!

Report: Archbishop Nienstedt being investigated by firm hired by archdiocese

Surprise, Surprise!

By Grant Gallicho

Archbishop John Nienstedt of St. Paul and Minneapolis is being investigated for “multiple allegations” of inappropriate sexual conduct with seminarians, priests, and other men, according to the archbishop’s former top canon lawyer, Jennifer Haselberger. The investigation is being conducted by a law firm hired by the archdiocese. Nienstedt denies the allegations.

Nienstedt02The investigation was spurred by information the archdiocese received late last year, according to another person with knowledge of the investigation. (This inquiry is not related to a December 2013 accusation that Nienstedt touched a boy’s buttocks during a confirmation photo shoot. The archbishop denied that allegation, and, following an investigation, the county prosecutor did not bring charges. Reportedly the case has been reopened.) Near the end of the year, it came to light that a former Twin Cities priest had accused Nienstedt of making unwanted sexual advances.

The archbishop agreed to hire an outside law firm to investigate the accusation. By early 2014, the archdiocese had selected the top-ranked Minneapolis firm of Greene Espel. Nienstedt, along with auxiliary bishops Lee Piché and Andrew Cozzens, flew to Washington, D.C., to inform the apostolic nuncio of the allegations. Over the course of the investigation, lawyers have interviewed current and former associates and employees of Nienstedt—including Haselberger, who resigned in protest in April 2013.

“Based on my interview with Greene Espel—as well as conversations with other interviewees—I believe that the investigators have received about ten sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety on the part of the archbishop dating from his time as a priest in the Archdiocese of Detroit, as Bishop of New Ulm, and while coadjutor and archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” Haselberger told me. What’s more, “he also stands accused of retaliating against those who refused his advances or otherwise questioned his conduct.”

The allegations are nothing more than a “personal attack against me due to my unwavering stance on issues consistent with church teaching, such as opposition to so-called same-sex marriage,” Nienstedt said in a written statement. He also suspects that accusers are coming forward because of “difficult decisions” he has made, but, citing privacy laws, he would not elaborate.

“I have never engaged in sexual misconduct and certainly have not made any sexual advances toward anyone,” Nienstedt told me. “The allegations are a decade old or more, prior to my service as archbishop of St. Paul and Minneapolis,” he continued, emphasizing that “none of the allegations involve minors or illegal or criminal behavior.” The “only accusation,” Nienstedt explained, is of “improper touching (of the person’s neck),” and was made by a former priest.

The archbishop has been under intense scrutiny since September 2013, when Haselberger went public with damning accounts of the way the archdiocese had dealt with clerics accused of sexual misconduct. One of those priests was Curtis Wehmeyer, a man with a history of inappropriate sexual behavior who was nevertheless promoted by Nienstedt to become pastor of two parishes. Wehmeyer went on to molest children at one of those parishes. One of the questions investigators have been asking is whether the archbishop had an unprofessional relationship with Wehmeyer.

“Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer was an archdiocesan priest and I was his archbishop,” Nienstedt said. He characterized his relationship with Wehmeyer as “professional” and “pastoral,” and explained that it preceded his “learning of [Wehmeyer’s] sexual abuse of minors.”

Nienstedt was named an auxiliary bishop of Detroit in 1996, and became bishop of New Ulm, Minnesota, in 2001. Just six years later he was appointed coadjutor of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. He was installed as archbishop in 2008. Before long, Nienstedt had established one of the signature issues of his episcopate: homosexuality. His statements on that issue add controversy to the investigation of his own behavior.

“Those who actively encourage or promote homosexual acts…formally cooperate in a grave evil and, if they do so knowingly and willingly, are guilty of mortal sin,” Nienstedt wrote late in 2007. That echoed a column he wrote the year before—while bishop of New Ulm—cautioning Catholics against watching Brokeback Mountain, a film about two married cowboys who fall for one another. He wondered whether Hollywood knew just how dangerous their “agenda” was: “Surely they must be aware that they have turned their backs on God and the standards of God in their quest to make evil look so attractive.”

Before the 2010 midterm elections, Nienstedt turned his attention to the burgeoning gay-marriage movement. He recorded an introduction on a DVD opposing gay marriage, which was sent to four hundred thousand Minnesota Catholics. The same year a Catholic mother wrote to him pleading for acceptance for her gay son. He recommended she consult the Catechism. “Your eternal salvation may well depend upon a conversation [sic] of heart on this topic,” he replied. And in 2012, Nienstedt led a coalition of religious leaders pushing for an amendment to the state constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Reportedly, Nienstedt committed $650,000 to those efforts. The amendment failed.

But by the fall of 2013, Nienstedt’s focus would be pulled away from gay marriage to an issue of greater urgency: the sexual abuse of children by priests. In September of last year, Minnesota Public Radio reported that the archdiocese was aware of Fr. Curtis Wehmeyer’s history of misconduct when Nienstedt promoted him to pastor. He refused to inform the parish staff of Wehmeyer’s troubling past. The cleric eventually molested the children of a parish employee.

As MPR and other news outlets continued coverage of that and related stories, Archbishop Nienstedt announced a task force that would review “any and all issues” related to clergy misconduct. Its fifty-three page report—released April 14—criticized the archdiocese for “serious shortcomings,” but did not mention the investigation of Nienstedt. That’s because the task force “was established to review the archdiocesan policies on clergy misconduct toward minors,” Nienstedt said. By the time Greene Espel learned about the task force, the group had “disbanded,” having completed its report, according to Bishop Piché. “Nevertheless,” he continued, “a call from an archdiocesan official promptly was made to a former member of the task force.” The task force has stated that it will not speak publicly about its report. *

Around the time the task force published its report, Greene Espel attorneys phoned Haselberger to set up a meeting, but she was skeptical. “There is no precedent in the church for an investigation of this kind,” she told me. Since she resigned last year, “the archdiocese has been distinctly hostile toward me.” That “caused me to wonder if this was some sort of trick.” Her skepticism diminished when she met with the lawyers days later. They produced a January 31 letter from Nienstedt to auxiliary Bishop Lee Piché authorizing him to oversee an investigation, Haselberger said, along with an e-mail naming another priest to act as a liaison between the archdiocese and the investigators.

“I did this for the benefit of the archdiocese,” Nienstedt explained, because “I knew it would be unfair to ignore the allegations simply because I knew them to be false.” And that’s what he would have done if he learned of similar allegations against any priest, the archbishop said.

Haselberger informed Greene Espel attorneys of a letter she’d seen from Wehmeyer to Nienstedt thanking the archbishop for a recent dinner. She also told investigators that the archbishop had asked for assistance in arranging for him to visit Wehmeyer in the inpatient sex-offender treatment program where he was residing before sentencing. At the time he had not met with Wehmeyer’s victims or their family, according to Haselberger. The archbishop denied that he sought such assistance, and said he never visited Wehmeyer in prison or at any treatment facility.

Greene Espel lawyers wanted to know whether Nienstedt asked to visit any other detained priests. Two other priests had been in jail while Nienstedt was in St. Paul. They had both been released by January of 2013, when Nienstedt wanted to visit Wehmeyer. “To my knowledge,” Haselberger replied, “he never visited them or expressed any desire to do so.” As far as she could recall, Nienstedt struck up a friendship with Wehmeyer “after I warned him about Wehmeyer’s history in 2009.” Nienstedt said that the two had a “professional, pastoral relationship” before he learned that Wehmeyer had abused children.

Haselberger asked the Green Espel attorneys what the firm planned to do with the information it was gathering. “They said that their task was to investigate, and that they would be providing a report to the archdiocese,” she said. Once the report is complete, Nienstedt told me, it will be given to the pope’s ambassador to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, who will presumably inform the pope about its contents.

“I pray that the truth would come out as a result of the investigation,” Nienstedt said.

Complete Article HERE!

Seattle Archdiocese pays $12M to settle sex abuse claims

“I deeply regret the pain suffered by these victims,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said. REALLY? He doesn’t regret the rapist clergy or his predecessors who facilitated the rapists. Is anyone else sick to death with these non-apology apologies? This kind of ridiculous contrition wouldn’t even hold up in a confessional. SHAME!

The Archdiocese of Seattle announced Tuesday it has paid $12.1 million to settle 30 claims of sexual abuse by members of two church-run schools in western Washington.

SartainThe abuse claims were made by students at schools run by the Christian Brothers, which is a teaching order that operated the Briscoe School in the Kent Valley and Seattle’s Bishop O’Dea High school, according to the Archdiocese.

“I deeply regret the pain suffered by these victims,” Archbishop J. Peter Sartain said in a news release. “Our hope is that this settlement will bring them closure and allow them to continue the process of healing.”

The archdiocese continues to operate O’Dea but the Christian Brothers are no longer involved. Archdiocese spokesman Greg Magnoni says the Briscoe School closed in the late 1960s.

The most recent cases in the proceeding are nearly 30 years old, with some dating back almost 60 years, according to the Archdiocese.

In a statement issued Tuesday evening, Seattle sexual abuse attorney Michael T. Pfau said the settlement will “put an end to an ugly chapter for the Archdiocese involving these two schools.”

“The Archdiocese, under the leadership of Archbishop Sartain, did the right thing and acknowledged the tremendous amount of pain and suffering that our clients, their families, and our community have endured,” the statement reads. “This settlement is the first step in allowing all parties to focus on the future. It also allows the Archdiocese to move beyond its partnership with the Christian Brothers, a relationship that led to the abuse of scores of children.”

The settlement was funded by archdiocesan insurance programs.

Pfau says the men will also receive settlement money from the Christian Brothers bankruptcy proceeding.

Complete Article HERE!

Diocese of Winona explains why it’s paying priest who admitted abuse

Curious that they have to “follow the law” when it involves paying a priest rapist, but not paying the victims of the priest rapist.

By Jerome Christenson

The Diocese of Winona has offered a public explanation of why it continues to pay pension benefits to a defrocked pedophile priest, a week after the revelation was made public by a law firm suing the diocese.Diocese of Winona

“Recently, there has been criticism of the Diocese of Winona for providing former priest, Thomas Adamson, with his pension benefits,” reads a statement released first to parishioners, then to the public.

“The provision of Mr. Adamson’s benefit is not discretionary or voluntary, it is required by law,” the statement continues.

Adamson is paid out of the diocesan Priest Pension Fund, created to provide retirement income and health-care benefits to retired diocesan clergy. A priest who has served the diocese and made contributions to the retirement fund for 10 years is vested in the plan, and his right to be paid benefits from the plan is protected by state and federal law.

According to the diocese: “The Diocese cannot elect to withhold vested pension benefits from employees even when the employee has committed misconduct. The Diocese of Winona strictly adheres to the legal obligations associated with the pension plan.”

Adamson, ordained a priest in 1958, continued in active ministry until 1985, after allegations became public that he had sexually abused boys in parishes where he had been assigned. In 2009 he was laicized — officially removed from the Roman Catholic priesthood — by Pope Benedict XVI on the recommendation of Bishop Bernard Harrington.

In a sworn deposition made public earlier this month, Adamson admitted to having sexual contact with at least a dozen boys over two decades of ministry, stopping only when one of his victims came forward publicly in 1984.

While Adamson never faced criminal abuse charges — the statute of limitations had expired — in addition to lawsuits currently before the court, he has been accused of sexual abuse in three civil suits settled out of court, and a fourth suit brought against the Diocese of Winona and the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis was decided in favor of the complainant.

Still, “Thomas Adamson’s laicization does not divest him from receiving his pension benefits,” the diocese states.

“The continued payment of Thomas Adamson’s pension benefits should not be viewed in any fashion as condoning or supporting the horrific crimes he has perpetrated upon children.”

Second priest defies Church of England to marry his same sex partner

Rev Andrew Cain puts wedding pictures on Facebook as first cleric to marry same sex partner stripped of permission to work as a priest

By Andrew Brown

A second priest has defied the Church of England’s official line to marry his same sex partner. On Saturday, the Rev Andrew Cain, vicar of St James church in West Hampstead, London, posted on Facebook pictures of his wedding to Stephen Foreshew.

Rev Andrew Cain, vicar of St James churchThe wedding took place as the first priest to marry his partner, Canon Jeremy Pemberton, confirmed that he had been stripped of the permission to work as a priest in the diocese of Southwell and Nottingham.

Church authorities face difficulties if they try to prevent clergy from contracting perfectly legal marriages.

Both church law and employment law offer protections. Cain, the London vicar, holds his job by the traditional freehold, which means it is almost impossible to dismiss him for doctrinal offences. If the matter goes to court, it will be difficult for the church to argue that its opposition to gay marriage is not doctrinal.

Pemberton, a former missionary, lives in one diocese but works in another, Lincoln, where he is employed as a hospital chaplain by the NHS. No hospital trust could legally sack him for his marriage. Nor does he require the permission of the bishop of Lincoln to hold the job. He is also employed as a “lay clerk” or professional singer in Southwell Minster [cathedral] but his employment there is also protected by laws against discrimination. Despite the measures taken by the church, he can still work as a priest in Lincoln and as a church singer in Nottingham.

What will be hard for both men – and for any other clergy whose same sex marriages become public – will be to find another job. The bishops have appointed the bishop of Norwich, Graham James, to maintain a blacklist of clergy who will not be considered for any future roles.

Priests in training or vicars who hold their jobs on time-limited contracts – as opposed to the older system of freehold which protects Andrew Cain – are much more vulnerable. They can be dismissed or their contracts dropped without obvious redress. Clergy are free to enter into civil partnerships, with the official justification that these need not involve sexual relations, which the church officially condemns outside of heterosexual marriage.

The wrangling over homosexuality has continued without progress for 30 years.

Most evangelicals condemn it, and a large grouping of African churches has used the Church of England’s relative tolerance as an excuse to break away from the Anglican communion. They are threatening to extend their schism to this country, with the help of a network based in an evangelical church in Battersea, south London.

To ward off the possibility of a breakaway, the archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has called for “facilitated conversations” between the two sides in this country. But while surveys show that the great majority of churchgoers are indifferent or liberal on this matter, the committed campaigners on both sides are irreconcilable and bishops are privately dismissive of the chances of reaching any agreement acceptable to hardliners.

Complete Article HERE!

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