Priest describes senior Vatican Cardinal’s comments as ‘like Trump’

Fr Tony Flannery, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests, said there are “polarised positions” in the Church and in the Vatican itself on possible reform

By Noel Baker

A Redemptorist priest who has been suspended from active ministry for the past eight years has described comments by a senior Vatican Cardinal as “like Trump” amid a deepening row over potential reforms in the Catholic Church.

Fr Tony Flannery, a co-founder of the Association of Catholic Priests and an advocate of the ordination of women priests, made his comments after a report this week in the National Catholic Reporter quoted Cardinal Luis Ladaria of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) as saying it had done “everything possible” to come to some type of resolution with him, but this had been unsuccessful.

In the same article, Cardinal Ladaria defended his office’s request that Fr Flannery sign four strict oaths of fidelity to Catholic teaching, saying while this was “very unpleasant”, it was required to maintain fealty to Church guidelines.

The Cardinal was quoted as saying: “We have tried always to maintain our respect towards Fr Flannery, but the duty that we have, according to the arrangement of the church, is to protect the faith and therefore to indicate some things that do not conform with this faith.”

Fr Flannery, 73, had said that unless he signed the oaths he had been informed he should not return to public ministry.

The row has now deepened, with the ACP tweeting a link to the NCR article and stating it is “very disturbed” by the comments as to the nature of the engagement with Fr Flannery.

It said if the report had quoted the Cardinal accurately “then it must be said, that he is misleading Catholics and the public. This is disturbing.”

Fr Flannery himself tweeted on Tuesday night “Ladaria is a Jesuit; he knows what ‘dialogue’ entails. He must know this statement is false. This has upset me this evening”.

He told the Irish Examiner he has no intention of leaving the priesthood or the Redemptorists, but could not rule out the possibility that he might be fired.

He said in eight years he had had no direct correspondence from the CDF and so the Cardinal’s assertion to the contrary was, in his view, “totally false”.

“The only thing I can compare that to is Trump,” he said, adding that what was said is “clearly contrary to all the evidence”.

Fr Flannery said there are “polarised positions” in the Church and in the Vatican itself on possible reform, but that the recent issue over the oaths of fidelity “in tone and content is like something from the 19th century”.

“To some extent this is like the end of the road in dealing with the Vatican,” he said.

In a comprehensive statement issued earlier on his website by way of response to the comments made by the Cardinal, Fr Flannery said the CDF under Cardinal Ladaria or his two predecessors “never communicated directly with me”.

“How do you dialogue with someone when you won’t speak to them?” he asked.

He said he was “totally unaware” of any other discussions held at a higher level and added: “All I ever got were demands for statements and signatures, and lists of punishments meted out to me. In fact the very first I knew of the whole process was, in 2012, when I was presented with two documents, outlining my ‘heretical’ writings, and the sentence being imposed. And the Cardinal says they have done everything to dialogue with me.”

Complete Article HERE!

U.S. bishop-elect resigns over abuse allegation weeks before taking office

Father Michel Mulloy

By Philip Pullella

An American bishop-elect has resigned just weeks before he was due to start the job, following an allegation that he had sexually abused a minor, Catholic Church officials said on Monday.

Father Michel Mulloy, 66, was appointed by Pope Francis on June 19 to be bishop of Duluth, Minnesota and was due to be formally installed in a ceremony on Oct. 1.

It is almost unheard of for a bishop-elect to resign between the time of his appointment and installation. The episode pointed to the continuing impact the abuse scandal is having on the 1.3 billion-member Roman Catholic Church.

It was not immediately possible to contact Mulloy or his lawyers for comment on Monday, a public holiday in the United States.

A Vatican statement said Pope Francis had accepted Mulloy’s resignation, but gave no more details.

The diocese of Rapid City, South Dakota, where Mulloy had served as a priest, released a statement saying it had last month “received notification of an allegation against Father Mulloy of sexual abuse of a minor in the early 1980’s”.

The diocese said that when it received the allegation, police were informed and Mulloy was instructed to refrain from public ministry while a Church investigation determined if the allegation was credible.

A diocesan board made up of mostly lay members reviewed the investigation’s findings and concluded that the accusation “met the standard” for further investigation, the diocese said.

Mulloy submitted his resignation after he received a summary of the allegation, the diocese added.

A spokesman for Rapid City’s police force said there was no active investigation into the bishop-elect. Police in Duluth did not immediately respond to calls for comment.

For the past two decades the Roman Catholic Church around the world has been hit by a raft of sexual abuse cases and has spent billions of dollars in settlements, expenses that in many cases have led to the closing of parishes and schools.

The U.S. Church is still reeling from a Pennsylvania grand jury report that revealed that priests had abused about 1,000 people over seven decades in that state alone.

Complete Article HERE!

Catholic diocese paid paltry sums to two poor, black abuse victims

A SURVIVOR of clerical abuse, and now the Mississippi coordinator of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), has blasted the Jackson Diocese and a Franciscan order over paltry compensation payments made to two black men who were abused by a friar in the 1990s.

Mark Belenchia

by Barry Duke

Mark Belenchia, above, was commenting on the settlements made to La Jarvis Love and Joshua Love who suffered abuse at the hands of Paul A West.

The former Franciscan friar and fourth-grade teacher has been extradited from Wisconsin to Mississippi to faces sexual battery charges.

Belenchia, whose abuse by a Catholic priest began when he was around 13 and lasted for three years, said of the settlements:

They were harmed as children and they were harmed as adults. The Diocese of Jackson and the Franciscan order ought to be ashamed of their performance.

Reporting for Religion News Service, Michael Rezendes wrote:

The men making the allegations, La Jarvis Love and Joshua Love, both 37, are cousins who grew up together and encountered West in the 1990s, when he was a teacher and later the principal at the St. Francis of Assisi School in Greenwood, Mississippi.

Three years ago, the cousins reported that West sexually assaulted them on school grounds and on road trips, including one to a New York summer camp established by the Franciscans, a Roman Catholic religious order.

As The Associated Press first reported, nearly two years ago La Jarvis Love and Joshua Love each agreed to settle their claims for $15,000 – far less than most clergy abuse victims receive.

A third man, Joshua’s younger brother, Raphael, also alleged West sexually abused him and reported the abuse to church authorities in 1998, after which West returned to Wisconsin. Raphael Love rejected a settlement similar to those signed by his brother and cousin.

In November, La Jarvis Love and Joshua Love filed a lawsuit in federal district court in New York, claiming the Franciscans pressured them into signing low-ball settlements that required their silence about their allegations. At the time they signed the settlements, they were not represented by an attorney.

“They felt they could treat us that way because we’re poor and we’re Black,” Joshua Love told the AP.

Father James Gannon, the leader of a Wisconsin-based group of Franciscan Friars, negotiated the settlements. Last summer, he denied that racism or the Loves’ poverty were factors in the amount of money offered . “Absolutely not,” he told the AP.

In 2006, the Catholic Diocese of Jackson, which includes Greenwood, settled lawsuits covering 19 victims — 17 of whom were white – for $5 million. That average payout of $263,000 for each survivor is 17 times that offered to each of the Loves. Payments in more recent settlements nationally have ranged far higher.

Gannon also attempted to negotiate a similar agreement with Raphael Love, Joshua Love’s younger brother, who is serving two life sentences in a Tennessee prison for a double homicide he committed as a juvenile. Raphael Love refused Gannon’s offer because, he said, the amount was not enough to hire a criminal attorney willing to argue that he deserves a new trial.

West, 60, did not contest his extradition at a hearing in Outagamie Country, Wisconsin on August 17. He arrived at the Leflore County Jail in Greenwood, Mississippi, earlier this week following an investigation by the Mississippi Attorney General’s public integrity division.

West also has been charged with second-degree sexual assault of a child in Wisconsin.

Complete Article HERE!

3 women settle suit against Austin priest convicted of assault

By Katie Hall

Three women have settled a lawsuit against an Austin priest who was found guilty last year of groping a woman while performing her last rites.

The lawsuit was filed last month against the Rev. Gerold Langsch, 76, and the Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers, which operates St. Paul’s Catholic Church, where Langsch previously worked.

The lawsuit alleged that Langsch used the application of holy oil as a ruse to grope women. Langsch has previously declined to comment on the allegations.

“The lawsuit and claims by these brave, wonderful women against the Schoenstatt Order and its priest were mediated and successfully resolved,” said their attorney, Sean Breen. “I am so proud of and happy for each one of them and so grateful for our system of justice.”

The parties involved in the lawsuit did not share the settlement amount.

Langsch was found guilty in June 2019 of a charge of assault against an elderly or disabled person, and he was given two years’ probation and ordered to pay a few thousand dollars in fines, court documents show. The court judgment also prohibits him from any ministry participation.

Langsch served as the pastor of St. Paul Parish in Austin from December 2015 to February 2019. The Diocese of Austin has said that Langsch was removed from the parish eight days after receiving a report unrelated to his arrest that stated he had failed to maintain proper boundaries with an adult.

One of the women who filed the lawsuit, whose report led to Langsch’s arrest in March 2019, reported the assault to Austin police in October 2018 soon after it happened, according to Langsch’s arrest affidavit. The woman had been ill and Langsch performed her last rites. The woman later survived her illness.

The woman knew Langsch prior to the assault, Austin police investigators said. When he arrived to perform her last rites, he used a bottle of holy water to anoint the woman’s chest three times, before he pulled out a separate bottle of lotion and began to apply it to her chest.

Langsch massaged and pinched the woman’s breast while asking, “Does that feel good?” the affidavit says. He also tried to put his hand down her pants, the documents says.

By the time Langsch was found guilty, other women had reported to the police that he “had breached boundaries or inappropriately touched them,” according to a statement that the Diocese of Austin released last month.

The second woman named in the suit said that Langsch put his hands down her back, under her shirt, also using oils. The third woman said Langsch offered to pay her $100 to apply the oils to her naked body.

The suit also alleged that in 2017 St. Paul’s Catholic Church received a report from a fourth unnamed woman who said Langsch touched her chest under her shirt. That woman was not a plaintiff in the suit.

The woman spoke to another priest to report the assault, and he “brought out a picture of Father Langsch, and the victim positively identified Langsch as the perpetrator,” the suit said. “Despite the report, Langsch continued to operate as head pastor of St. Paul’s.”

The Rev. James Misko, the vicar general for the Diocese of Austin, refused to answer questions about the 2017 allegations. In a statement, the Diocese of Austin said that officials first became aware of Langsch’s misconduct in February 2019.

Austin police Lt. Patricia Cruz, who works in the Sex Crimes Unit, said police are not required by law to report assault allegations against priests to their local diocese.

Officials with the Secular Institute of Schoenstatt Fathers also refused to answer questions about the earlier allegations against Langsch and also released a separate statement.

“We ask for continuing prayers for everyone involved that they feel God’s consoling presence as all who were affected by this heal and rebuild their lives,” the institute’s statement says. “We remain committed to caring for all those entrusted to us.”

Complete Article HERE!

Following priest arrest, advocates for the sexually abused share insight on what signs to look for

According to the experts, 93 percent of child sexual assault victims know the perpetrator.

By Roxanne Elias

Following the arrest of a Findlay priest, advocates of sexually abused victims are shedding light on how sexual abuse can happen to some of your most vulnerable loved ones.

“It’s shocking that in 2020 we’re still here with a clergy sexual abuse crisis in this country,” said Claudia Vercellotti.

For more than 20 years, Vercelloti been a spokesperson and volunteer with the Ohio Survivors Network of those abused by priests, also known as SNAP.

Vercellotti says she’s relieved to learn the FBI is spearheading an investigation following the arrest of Findlay pastor Michael Zacharias, who is facing federal sex trafficking of a minor charges.

Her organization is now helping victims on the road to recovery.

“Later it may be easier to say, ‘why didn’t you just ask for help?’ But to realize when you’re in the middle, it’s very difficult. And you’re feeling all sorts of different emotions that makes it really hard to make a rational choice to speak up,” said Dr. Victoria Kelly, the vice chair of Education in the Department of psychiatry at the University of Toledo.”

According to Dr. Kelly, 93-percent of child sexual assault victims know the perpetrator.

“When you’re in a position of authority over a child, like a priest, you have a passport for credibility into their lives, and those relationships are often encouraged unknowingly by your family. You know, it’s an honor when a priest takes interest in you,” said Vercellotit.

Dr. Kelly says there are several red flags to look for if a loved one is being sexually abused. They include changes in behavior such as not wanting to be left alone or physical signs of trauma in genital area.

And as for the abuser, there are signs to look for too.

“Warning signs of the grooming behaviors could be if an adult doesn’t respect the boundaries that a parent has set for their child, or they don’t take no for an answer. They make excuses or reasons to give special attention to their child or separate the child,” said Dr. Kelly.

Both the doctor and spokesperson for SNAP are now backing the FBI and encouraging other survivors to come forward, whether it be to law enforcement or to others.

“As a parent, caregiver for a child who has experienced sexual assault, it’s also important that you stand up and advocate for your child,” said Dr. Kelly.

“When you’re able to break your silence, when you’re able to tell your truth, you will unconsciously liberate others who are sitting out there watching your broadcast saying me too, me too. This happened to me and that is how we heal,” added Vercellotti.

For help from SNAP you can call 1-877-SNAP-HEAL (1-877-762-7432).

Complete Article HERE!