Cloyne report may be issued next week

THE CLOYNE report may be published next week.

Prepared by the Murphy commission, it follows an investigation into the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations by church and State authorities over a 13-year period in the Catholic diocese of Cloyne.

Yesterday Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said it was “likely the report can be brought before Cabinet on Tuesday week and be published very shortly thereafter.”

Speaking on RTÉ Radio 1’s This Week programme he indicated the delay in publication of the report was due to “a long-drawn-out process of consultation involving lawyers who had an interest in the matter”.

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The completed report was presented to the former minister for justice Dermot Ahern on December 23rd last.

Its findings concern clerical child sex abuse allegations made between January 1st, 1996, when the Catholic Church in Ireland first introduced child protection guidelines, and February 1st, 2009.

It was ordered by the government in January 2009 after publication the previous month of a report on the Cloyne diocesan website that found child protection practices there were “inadequate and in some respects dangerous”.

That report had been prepared by the church’s own child protection watchdog, the National Board for Safeguarding Children.

The government extended the remit of the Murphy commission to include Cloyne.

The commission at the time was also investigating the handling of clerical child sex abuse allegations against a sample 46 priests in the Dublin archdiocese.

It published that Dublin report in November 2009.

Its Cloyne report contains 26 chapters, is about 400 pages long, and includes findings on all 19 priests who faced abuse allegations there over the 13-year period investigated.

On April 8th last, president of the High Court Mr Justice Nicholas Kearns decided parts of the report should not be published pending the outcome of criminal proceedings against one priest.

US bishop resigns after alleged paedophile flees

Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday accepted the resignation of a US bishop accused of allowing an alleged paedophile priest from his diocese to flee to Mexico, as the Vatican takes action on abuses.

Bishop Daniel Walsh of the diocese of Santa Rosa in California resigned under an article in Catholic Church law invoking a “grave cause”, which can include a failure by the prelate in question to denounce a case of paedophilia.

Walsh, 74, is one year younger than the minimum retirement age for bishops.

Benedict last year called for a zero tolerance approach to child abuse by clergymen and called on bishops to work together with local law enforcement, following thousands of paedophile scandals across Europe and the United States.

Father Xavier Ochoa admitted to the bishop in April 2006 that he had abused young boys but the police were only told three days later by a diocesan lawyer.

By that time, Ochoa had fled to Mexico where he is still at large.

The diocese was ordered to pay five million dollars (3.5 million euros) to the three victims, as well as 20,000 dollars from Walsh personally.

The alleged acts committed by Ochoa included rape and forced oral sex.

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State Department action on ‘LGBT rights’ could split Catholic countries

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has praised State Department action on “LGBT” rights which includes support for Gay Pride marches and a Lady Gaga concert in Rome.

But two critics said U.S. advocacy is “far beyond the mainstream” and risks alienating the Church from social life in Catholic countries.

“The administration has made the LGBT agenda one of the cornerstones of their foreign policy,” said Austin Ruse, president of the Catholic Family and Human Rights Institute.

“They have directed their embassies everywhere to monitor and assist domestic homosexual movements whether the host country and their people accept it or not.”

“The U.S. is very powerful and can force governments to submit to its social policy views,” Ruse told CNA June 28.

Rebecca Marchinda, director of advocacy for the U.N.-focused World Youth Alliance, warned that U.S. activism—in Catholic countries especially—could result in the alienation of “the Church from the public sphere and the debate about these issues.”

“Instead of recognizing that states have legitimate reasons for recognizing marriage and family as an institution (and not other arrangements), the U.S. will help to pit the Catholic Church against civil society by stating that opposition to the U.S. ideas is based solely on outdated religious ideas.”

Some of these legitimate reasons, she noted, exist prior to religion and promote dignity and the common good.

Secretary Clinton discussed the U.S. administration’s role in homosexual advocacy at a June 27 LGBT Pride Month celebration co-hosted by the State Department and the organization Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies.

The U.S. Embassy in Rome played an “instrumental role” in bringing Lady Gaga to Italy for a EuroPride concert, Clinton said. Organizers of the event “desperately” wanted the American music star to perform and a letter to Lady Gaga from Ambassador David Thorne played a key role in securing the agreement.

“Over one million people attended the event, which included powerful words in support of equality and justice,” Clinton said.

Lady Gaga, a leading advocate for homosexual political causes, has also created several highly sexualized music videos that use Catholic religious symbols.

Paola Concia, a homosexual deputy of Italy’s Democratic Party, told the Italian newspaper Il Fatto Quotidiano that Ambassador Thorne’s intervention in the event was “surely” influenced by the political situation in Italy—the only founding nation of the European Union without a law on so-called homosexual rights.

The ambassador has frequently referred to Secretary Clinton’s phrase that “gay rights are human rights and human rights are gay rights.”

In her June 27 remarks, Secretary Clinton added that U.S. embassy staff in Slovakia worked “overtime” to help make the Pride parade in that country a success after the first one ended in violence.

The staff brought together more than 20 chiefs of mission from other nations to sign a public statement of support for the march and hosted a “respectful, productive debate on LGBT rights.”

“And on the day of the parade, our ambassador marched in solidarity right next to the mayor of Bratislava,” she said.

Clinton said the State Department was also involved in advocating LGBT rights in Honduras, Uganda, Malawi, Russia, Turkey, China and other places.

She noted the United States’ “major effort” at the Human Rights Council in Geneva to support a statement in ending violence and criminalization based on “sexual orientation and gender identity.”

The United States’ Bureau for Western Affairs and its permanent mission to the Organization of American States helped create a special rapporteur for LGBT rights within the Inter-American Commission for Human Rights.

Ruse said such advocacy is not simply about stopping violence against gays.

“They are intent on forcing homosexual marriage and homosexual adoption on countries that are offended by such things. They are intent on forcing sexual orientation and gender identity as new categories of non-discrimination that will trump the rights of religious believers.

“On this topic, this administration is far beyond the mainstream,” Ruse stated.

He said that most people around the world still understand homosexuality as “outside the norm” and as “something to be avoided and certainly not approved.”

“Most people recognize that the homosexual lifestyle is harmful to public health and morals. The effect of the Obama policy is to offend billions of people and force this view on reluctant governments. This is most especially offensive to countries that are predominantly Christian and Muslim. In fact, Christianity and Islam are among the chief obstacles of this agenda and policy.”

Marchinda suggested that Clinton’s comments express a “misunderstanding” about the nature of the debate on LGBT rights and that debate’s relationship to state sovereignty and human rights in general.

“It is worrisome that the United States has moved beyond defending the legitimate rights of all people to be free from violence to helping usurp the laws of (United Nations) member states concerning marriage and local regulations pertaining to parades and other events,” she told CNA on June 28.

“U.S. advocacy on these issues promotes a particular definition of human rights that is not accepted by all nations. It is increasingly a Western definition that the U.S. uses to promote its interests abroad and this definition guides its distribution of foreign aid to developing countries.”

Marchinda noted that there is presently no internationally-accepted definition of terms like “sexual orientation,” “LGBT,” or “gender identity,” though the U.S. continues to use this language in its human rights work.

“This causes confusion among member states of the United Nations and especially among those receiving aid with policy-type strings attached.”

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Priest apologises for abusing parishioner

A 79-year-old Catholic priest has apologised in court to a former parishioner for the ‘torture’ of sexual abuse he subjected her to over a number of years.

Paul McGennis had pleaded guilty to eight sample counts of sexual abuse against the young girl in the 1980s.

The abuse began when she was aged ten and continued for a number of years.

The victim said she lived in fear of the priest who threatened that her family would be expelled from the church if she told anyone.

The abuse took place in the priest’s house at a Dublin City Centre parish and continued after he moved to another parish in Dublin.

The victim said he would give her sweets and toys in the early days of the abuse.

In later years, he gave her money after having sex. In statements to gardaí, she said the abuse continued because she was a child and was scared.

She said she would run errands for the priest and the abuse began one day when she was late returning from an errand and he ‘gave out’ to her. It then took place almost every fortnight in the bedroom of the parish house and in a waiting room.

She said she would be admitted to the house by a housekeeper who was often present in the house, although not in the room, while the abuse took place.

Throughout the abuse she would cry and ask him to stop but he continued, she said. She did not tell her family because she thought she would be ‘battered’ and was afraid to bring shame on them.

She complained to gardaí a number of years ago after receiving counselling following a suicide attempt.

When interviewed by gardaí in 2009, McGennis denied the allegations. He pleaded guilty earlier this year.

At the Dublin Circuit Criminal Court last Friday, McGennis apologised to the victim and her family for the ‘stress and torture I have put them through and for the fact that my initial denials must have made it worse’.

In her victim impact statement, the victim said she would serve a sentence until the day she dies because of the abuse.

She said she lived in fear of seeing her abuser who had ‘taken away my innocence, my childhood memories, my chance of an education and my prospects for the future.’

It continued to threaten her marriage and denied her the chance to have children, she said. It left her without self esteem or the ability to form and maintain relationships. As a teenager she engaged in destructive behaviour.

Lawyers for Paul McGennis said his remorse and apology were genuine and said he was at low risk of reoffending. They asked the judge to take into account his age and medical condition when considering sentence.

The court was told he now lives at a diocesan centre at Clonliffe College and is living under a direction from the archbishop which governs his ministry and his contact with young people.

He has previous convictions for indecent assault and has served a prison sentence.

He is also co-operating with garda investigation launched as a result of the Murphy Report but Judge Desmond Hogan said that was not related to the current charges.

Judge Desmond Hogan said he needed time to consider the victim impact statement, along with medical and psychological reports submitted by the defence, and adjourned sentence to 29 July next.

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Bishop Retires, exhausted from dealing with clergy abuse cases

Bishop Walsh retires; Bishop Vasa takes over in Santa Rosa

Just six months after being named coadjutor, Bishop Robert Vasa has become Bishop of Santa Rosa. The Vatican announced yesterday it had accepted the resignation of Bishop Daniel Walsh even though he has yet to reach the mandatory retirement age of 75.

Bishop Vasa, 60, formerly Bishop of Baker, Oregon, has developed a reputation as tough and outspoken defender of Catholic orthodoxy. When Bishop Vasa was named coadjutor of Santa Rosa on Jan. 24, Bishop Walsh, who has led the see since 2000, told a local newspaper he would likely retire within a year.

In a February letter to the diocesan faithful, Bishop Walsh, 73, said he had been seeking a replacement for several years. “On October 8, 2008, I wrote to the Apostolic Nuncio to suggest that the time had come to appoint a new bishop to lead the Diocese of Santa Rosa,” wrote Bishop Walsh. “I mentioned in that letter my reasons, particularly that I had accomplished all that I could here in the Diocese and that I was exhausted from dealing with the clergy abuse cases that had arisen over the years.”

“In response to that letter Archbishop Sambi, the Apostolic Nuncio, phoned me and said he would forward my request to the Congregation of Bishops which decides such matters,” said Bishop Walsh. “I received a letter dated December17, 2008 informing me that the Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Giovanni Re, had determined that I should carry on as Bishop of Santa Rosa. The Apostolic Nuncio mentioned that in the future he would do his best to obtain a Coadjutor for the Diocese.”

“I let the matter rest until November 29, 2010 when the Apostolic Nuncio phoned me and told me that the new Prefect of the Congregation for Bishops, Cardinal Marc Ouellet, had reviewed my file and suggested that I write to the Holy Father to ask for a Coadjutor,” Bishop Walsh continued in his February letter. “I followed this suggestion and wrote to the Holy Father on December 5, 2010. On Tuesday, January 11, 2011, Archbishop Sambi phoned me to announce that Bishop Vasa of Baker City, Oregon had been appointed Coadjutor for the Diocese of Santa Rosa. This was confirmed by a letter dated January 18, 2011. The announcement of the appointment was scheduled for January 24, 2011 when you were all informed.”

Bishop Vasa, who led the Diocese of Baker, Oregon, from 2000 until his Santa Rosa appointment, developed a national reputation for his orthodoxy and for his willingness to take decisive action.

“In more than a decade as spiritual leader of central and eastern Oregon’s Catholics, Bishop Vasa gained a national following for efforts to uphold Catholic teaching in the face of what he considered threats and laxity from inside and outside the church,” said a story posted Jan. 24 on the website of The Catholic Sentinel, the newspaper of the Archdiocese of Portland. “He had lay ministers sign an oath of fidelity of Catholic teaching and erased the Catholic identity of a Bend hospital where doctors performed sterilizations. He criticized pro-choice Catholic politicians and once warned against a group of schismatics that denied the Second Vatican Council.”

In 2003, Bishop Vasa banned the dissident group Voice of the Faithful from meeting on any church property in the diocese. In a 2006 column discussing pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Bishop Vasa suggested they might be guilty of “the right-to-murder heresy.” He has long held that Catholic politicians who bring scandal to the faithful by supporting abortion should be denied Communion.

Bishop Vasa was also a prominent and outspoken critic of ‘Obamacare,’ calling it “fatally flawed” for failing to protect the unborn from government-funded abortions and because it did not include ‘conscience’ protections for healthcare providers.

In February 2010, Bishop Vasa announced that the diocese was ending its relationship with St. Charles Medical Center in Bend, Oregon, because the hospital continued to perform tubal ligations.

Bishop Vasa took up residence in the Diocese of Santa Rosa on March 4. Bishop Walsh has said he will retire to St. Anne’s Rectory in San Francisco, his home parish.

In announcing that Pope Benedict XVI had accepted Bishop Walsh’s resignation, the Vatican Information Service said the Holy Father had done so “in accordance with canon 401 para. 2 of the Code of Canon Law.” That provision of Canon Law says, “A diocesan bishop who has become less able to fulfill his office because of ill health or some other grave cause is earnestly requested to present his resignation from office.”

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