11/10/17

Brooklyn Diocese Names 8 Priests Who Sexually Abused Children

Ricardo Gonzalez, 48, said in an interview on Thursday that he was around 11 years old when the Rev. James Lara began to abuse him.

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Over the past 25 years, a university professor named Jaime Lara built an illustrious career in the academic world of sacred art history. He was a professor at Yale University for more than a decade, wrote five books and won more than a dozen prestigious awards and fellowships. Since 2013, he has been a professor of medieval and renaissance studies at Arizona State University.

But through his rise, Mr. Lara has kept a secret. On Thursday, the Roman Catholic Diocese of Brooklyn revealed that 25 years ago, Mr. Lara, then known as the Rev. James Lara, was laicized by the Vatican for sexually abusing children.

The Brooklyn diocese hid Father Lara’s secret from the public, but quietly posted Mr. Lara’s name on its website on Thursday morning, confirming that he had been laicized, or defrocked, for the abuse. Later in the day, the diocese posted the names of seven more former priests who were defrocked for child sexual abuse offenses, in an effort to protect children who might come into contact with them.

The public posting was meant to partly answer victims and their advocates who have pleaded for decades for the publication of all of the names of priests credibly accused or defrocked for child sexual abuse, to prevent the abuse of additional children. About 15 dioceses around the country have published partial lists.

In a statement, the Brooklyn diocese said Thursday’s release was inspired by the findings of its Independent Reconciliation and Compensation Program, a mediation panel that is awarding settlements to victims of its priests

“When the diocese launched the I.R.C.P. back in June, Bishop DiMarzio said that he would never stop working toward reform and he reaffirmed his commitment to the protection of children,” said Carolyn Erstad, a spokeswoman for the diocese, referring to Bishop Nicholas A. DiMarzio, the leader of the diocese. “I think what we are seeing here are those words in action.”

The other priests listed were Joseph P. Byrns, who served from 1969 to 2002; William E. Finger, who served from 1962 to 1980; Stephen Placa, who served from 1995 to 2002; Thomas O. Morrow, who served from 1971 until 1987; Romano J. Ferraro, who served from 1960 to 1988; Charles M. Mangini, who served from 1968 to 1993; and Christopher Lee Coleman, who served from 1994 to 2011.

Mr. Mangini declined to comment; the other six could not be reached.

Those seven priests represent a fraction of the Brooklyn and Queens clergy implicated in the 233 claims before the compensation program, which is awarding settlements to victims who agree to drop further action against the diocese. A website that tracks abuse allegations against priests, Bishopaccountablity.org, list 55 priests as accused abusers in the diocese since the 1930s, but the total number is unknown.

Victims of Father Lara, who served in Brooklyn for 19 years, and victim advocates said on Thursday that while they were glad that his name was being publicized, they felt it was too little too late.

“There is no excuse for a supposedly moral institution to wait 25 years to release a pedophile priest’s name,” said Mitchell Garabedian, a lawyer portrayed in the Oscar-winning film “Spotlight,” about clergy sexual abuse. He is representing three people who claim they were abused by Mr. Lara between the ages of 9 and 11. “Because of the church’s immoral behavior, dozens, if not hundreds, of children have probably been sexually abused by Father Lara, and their lives have been destroyed and their families’ lives have been destroyed.”

Jaime Lara, a professor of medieval and renaissance studies at Arizona State University, was once the Rev. James Lara, who was laicized by the Vatican for sexually abusing children.

Mr. Lara did not respond to a request for comment.

Thursday’s disclosure appears to be the first time the diocese has formally acknowledged the names of priests laicized for child sexual abuse. At least five people who say they were abused by Father Lara have applied for compensation.

Ricardo Gonzalez, 48, who has received compensation, said in an interview on Thursday that he was around 11 years old when Father Lara began to abuse him.

He met Father Lara, he recalled, at a summer program at Public School 321 in Park Slope. Father Lara seemed to always be hanging around the gym, and when he offered to take him and his younger brother and sister to the movies and for ice cream, they were thrilled.

But little by little, in a process common to child sexual abusers known as grooming, Father Lara became intimate with Mr. Gonzalez. “He wanted me to kiss him, he would get on top of me, he would say you can do better than that,” he said, remembering the terror he felt when invited to the rectory. “He would make me touch him in his private parts.”

As the abuse continued, Mr. Gonzalez, who is now a hairdresser, dropped out of high school and at one point attempted suicide, he said. As an adult, he has tried to track down Mr. Lara, and called institutions that had hired him to tell his story. But he felt he was never believed.

“I want everyone to know who he is,” he said. “I want him to lose his job, I want him to not have a drink of water. He ruined the little belief that I have. He is a very, very horrible person.”

Another victim, who asked to be referred to by his middle name, Armando, to protect his identity, noted that Mr. Lara favored Hispanic boys. He recalled how Father Lara seemed to always be around at St. Francis Xavier in Park Slope, as chaplain of the Boy Scouts and head of the altar boys.

He said he was abused from age 11 until he started college. Once, Father Lara bought him a sweatshirt from a trip to Scotland, he recalled, and asked him to strip naked before allowing him to put it on.

“I spent my life, not remembering,” Armando, 52, said. “I thought, I’m lucky, it didn’t impact me, God must have blessed me.” But three years ago, he said, the memories caught up with him, and his life began to fall apart. “I was just able to hold off a little longer,” he said.

Victims and their advocates had been tailing Mr. Lara for years. Robert M. Hoatson, a former priest who helps victims, said that he wrote to the University of Notre Dame around 2012 to warn it about Mr. Lara, who was a visiting professor at the time.

But then he went to at Arizona State University in Tempe as a research professor in the Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Studies. He continued to publish articles and books, and serve on the board of directors of the Society for the Arts in Religious and Theological Studies.

On Thursday, Arizona State University said that in response to the diocese’s revelation, it had asked Mr. Lara for his resignation and that he had given it.

Complete Article HERE!

10/27/17

Clerical sex abuse disclosures skyrocket in pope’s Argentina

In this Oct. 11, 2017 photo, Karen Maydana, center, Mailin Gobbo, behind right, and Yasmin Detez, behind left, pose for a photo at San Jose Obrero church in Caseros, in the province of Buenos Aires, Argentina. The schoolmates returned to the church and adjacent school they’d attended to describe to journalists what had happened, saying they hoped it would help protect children.

Karen Maydana says she was 9 years old when the Rev. Carlos Jose fondled her at a church pew facing the altar. It was her first confession ahead of her first Holy Communion.

She blames the trauma of that moment in 2004 for a teenage suicide attempt. And yet she never spoke about it publicly until this year. After hearing that two women who attended her school in the Argentine town of Caseros were allegedly abused by the same priest, she joined them as complainants in a case that in July led to his arrest for investigation of aggravated sexual abuse.

“Unfortunately, there are many of us. But speaking about it now also gives you strength to carry on,” Maydana, 22, said. “I have a 9-year-old niece who’s receiving her Communion this year, and this is not going to happen to her.”

The allegations are part of a growing trend: While Pope Francis struggles to make good on his “zero tolerance” pledge to fight clerical sex abuse worldwide, victims in his native Argentina are denouncing abuses in unprecedented numbers. An analysis by The Associated Press shows that the number of clerics publicly identified as alleged sexual abusers has increased dramatically in the last two years.

Experts attribute the spike to a cultural shift as victims feel more emboldened to denounce abuse, prosecutors are more inclined to investigate complaints of even decades-old abuse, the media are increasingly aggressive about reporting them and courts are willing to hand down stiff sentences.

“It’s a domino effect,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of BishopAccountability.org, a U.S.-based group that compiles a clergy abuse database.

In the U.S., confidential files on hundreds of pedophile priests have been released either through civil litigation, settlements or court order. The contents have revealed that top church officials worked behind the scenes to control the sex abuse scandal and keep it from authorities as well as parishioners.

“What is really remarkable here is that the survivors in Argentina don’t have the same powerful legal tools that we see in other countries,” Barrett Doyle said. “And yet, we’re still seeing the significant increase in cases.”

The AP compiled a list of 66 priests, nuns and brothers who have been accused since 2001 of abusing dozens of people, most of them children. The figures were gathered from testimonies by victims, judicial and church documents, and local media reports corroborated in conjunction with the BishopAccountability.org database. The number of new reports remained in the single digits each year from 2000 to 2015. But since the start of last year, victims have named 21 more, most accused of decades-old abuse.

“In Argentina, the abuse crisis is just beginning,” said San Francisco Bishop Sergio Buenanueva in Cordoba province, who leads a church council on clerical abuse. “I’m sure the Argentine church is going to face increasing numbers of these disclosures.”

To deal with the expected increased caseload, he said the church is planning to create its first comprehensive database of clerical abuse.  Buenanueva also recently returned from the Vatican, where he met with members of Francis’ sex abuse advisory commission to discuss prevention policies for Argentina, including training of clergy to detect potential abusers and victims.

Abuse survivors are taking action too. Maydana, and her schoolmates Mailin Gobbo, 29, and Yasmin Detez, 25, recently visited the church and adjacent school they had attended to describe to journalists what had happened, saying they hoped it would help protect children. Four other women have joined their case since they reported the priest to law enforcement.

“I don’t care about exposing myself as long as it leads other people to talk,” said Gobbo, who decided to speak publicly after the birth of her daughter.

The priest is accused of abusing Gobbo and Detez at a pool and at their school.

“He’d make me sit on his lap and ask me if I had been naughty while he kissed my neck and fondled me,” Detez said while Gobbo shed tears next to her.

Jose has told the court he is innocent and said the statute of limitations has expired in any case. He is appealing the arrest order.

Some of the accused remain in the ministry. In several cases, no canonical or judicial investigation was carried out. Some were probed and dismissed. Others, especially in recent years, have led to arrests and convictions.

A court in Entre Rios province this year sentenced a Colombian priest, the Rev. Juan Diego Escobar Gaviria, to 25 years in prison for sexually abusing four boys, one of them 10 years old. It was one of the stiffest sentences handed down to date against a pedophile priest in Argentina.

 ”I feel satisfied with the sentence,” said Alexis Endrizzi, 18, who was molested by Escobar when he was 12. “It sided with the victims.”

Two other priests are awaiting trial on pedophilia charges after they were accused this year in the same small province.

In one of the most shocking cases, prosecutors say at least 20 children at the Provolo Institute for deaf and mute children in Mendoza province were abused. Some of the victims say they were molested by an Italian priest, the Rev. Nicola Corradi, who also had been accused by some of the dozens of abuse victims at the Provolo’s school in Italy but never faced justice there. Corradi, now elderly, was formally charged by Argentine prosecutors in November and is under house arrest awaiting trial in Argentina. Corradi’s attorney declined to comment on his client’s plea or any other detail of the case.

Advocates of priestly abuse victims question how Francis could have been unaware of the allegations against Corradi since he was publicly named by the Italian victims starting in 2009 and most recently in 2014.

One of the cases that has festered for years is that of the Rev. Hector Ricardo Gimenez, who had been detained after several abuse complaints in 1985 and 1996, but was freed by the courts.

In 2013, Julieta Anazco led other women in publicly confronting Gimenez as he celebrated Mass at a hospital chapel, accusing him of abusing her and many others as children decades before.

“He’d jump into the shower with the excuse of washing us,” said Anazco, who went on to become president of the Survivors’ Network of Ecclesiastical Abuse.

The Archbishopric of La Plata said in a statement to the AP that the church had found Gimenez guilty of previous abuses and that he had been banned from ministerial duties, a common church sanction for elderly priests accused of abuse.

It also said that Anazco came to a meeting at the La Plata archbishopric in 2015, and that an official for the archdiocese heard her complaints and “shared the cruelty of these crimes and the importance that no one guilty of them remains unpunished.”   

Anazco’s criminal complaint initially was dismissed, but was later reopened and remains pending, according to her attorney.

The AP tried to reach Gimenez, who is in his eighties, at the nursing home where he now lives in the city of La Plata but he declined to comment.

No official numbers on clerical abuse have been published by Argentina’s church, government or its judicial system, and the issue is still something of a taboo.

But Pope Francis tried to break the stigma by phoning Rufino Varela after he revealed that he had been abused as a child by a priest at a school that Argentine President Mauricio Macri also attended. Other students at the school told the AP that they suffered abuse by the same priest, who has since died.

Francis has pledged “zero tolerance” for abuse, but he has also said he never had to confront the issue as archbishop of Buenos Aires, where he served from 1998 to 2013. Recently, he has acknowledged that the church was “late” in recognizing the scale of abuse and the damage it wreaked on victims, and said the practice of cover-up and moving pedophiles around was to blame.

Many Argentine victims of abuse say they feel abandoned by the church.

 ”You realize the complicity, the cover-up of the church hierarchy that goes all the way up to the Vatican,” Anazco said.

Complete Article HERE!

10/14/17

The Catholic Church knew he was an abuser, but helped him get a job in public schools

Melanie Sakoda holds a sign as she participates in a demonstration with SNAP, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, outside of the offices of the San Francisco Archdiocese in 2010.

By Rick Anderson

[T]ime and again, the record shows, Brother Edward “Chris” Courtney was accused of child sexual abuse in the Roman Catholic schools where he taught, and the church responded by moving him to another jurisdiction.

That makes his case similar to those of hundreds of other priests and brothers who committed sexual abuse before the problem exploded into national consciousness more than 15 years ago.

What sets Courtney apart is this: According to a lawsuit settled last week in Seattle’s King County Superior Court, he was ultimately shuffled off to a public school, where he continued to commit sexual assault.

Edward Courtney in an undated photo

Courtney, now 82 and retired in Hawaii, was a member of the Christian Brothers religious order who has been accused of assaulting at least 55 boys during his three decades as a Catholic school educator in a variety of jurisdictions from New York to Seattle.

It was in Seattle, where he served as principal of a parochial school, St. Alphonsus, that his Catholic school career came to an end after allegations of groping. Catholic and Christian Brothers officials then wrote letters of recommendation to the state school system and, ignoring a legal requirement, never reported his history of sexual assaults. That omission allowed Courtney to obtain his license to teach in public schools, where the assaults continued, according to the lawsuit and criminal court records.

The Seattle Archdiocese agreed to pay $1.3 million to one of Courtney’s public school victims — an unidentified male who was sexually assaulted in the early 1980s at a now-closed Tacoma-area school. Archbishop J. Peter Sartain also issued an apology.

The church and the Christian Brothers’ congregation have now paid out an estimated $30 million in court settlements to Courtney’s nationwide victims, 52 of them in one settlement alone that caused the congregation to declare bankruptcy in 2011.

In a news release, the Seattle Archdiocese pointed to changes it had made in the wake of the church scandal that began unfolding in 2001 with a Boston Globe investigation of abuse by priests. Now, criminal background checks are required for all archdiocese employees and volunteers who have unsupervised contact with children.

Courtney, however, did not have a criminal record until after he began teaching in the public school system and was convicted of assaulting a student at an Othello, Wash., elementary school.

Jason Amala, one of the latest victim’s Seattle attorneys, said in a statement this week that he was unaware of “another case where the defendant [the archdiocese] removed a known abuser from their private school system and then actively helped them get a job in the public school system.”

Mary Dispenza, leader of Seattle SNAP (Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests) praised the settlement and noted that a second, similar lawsuit accusing Courtney of molesting another public school student is currently moving through the courts.

Last year, the Seattle Archdiocese issued a list of 77 priests, brothers (including Courtney), deacons and a nun identified as sexual predators. The archdiocese has not provided any details of the alleged offenses.

Court files, though, lay out Courtney’s story.

Problems surfaced nearly immediately after the Seattle-born brother took his first permanent assignment in 1960, at age 22, at New York City’s Sacred Heart School. Christian Brothers records state that he began to prey on grade school students and was transferred to Brother Rice High School in Chicago, where more problems soon arose.

He was moved to St. Laurence High School in Burbank, Ill., where he was also accused of abuse. The allegations continued after his transfer in 1968 to Brother Rice High in Birmingham, Mich. Two years later, he was sent to St. Leo High in Chicago, where — following more abuse allegations — he was transferred back to St. Laurence.

He was asked to leave St. Laurence following an allegation involving a freshman boy. This time, the church and congregation sent him far afield — to the West Coast, where he wound up at O’Dea High School in Seattle in the mid-1970s, records show.

Within two months, he was coaching intramural basketball at O’Dea and the complaints started again. One student said he was attacked by Courtney in a locked classroom. The boy’s father later confronted school officials, who asked Courtney to make a public apology.

Courtney refused and was sent to a retreat in Canada for sexual deviancy treatment. When he returned to O’Dea, new abuse reports surfaced. He was moved to a Catholic elementary school and then to St. Alphonsus, where he was named principal.

It wasn’t long before complaints surfaced from St. Alphonsus students, including two boys who said Courtney had groped them.

Courtney admitted to the youths’ charges and agreed to resign. But with the archdiocese’s help, he ended up as a public school teacher in Seattle, Tacoma and central Washington. The Christian Brothers even paid Courtney’s way at Seattle University to earn accreditation so he could become a school principal.

When molestation accusations once again surfaced, Courtney took flight — aware this time that public school officials had alerted police.

Three years later, he was arrested in Nevada and returned to Washington. But with his past unknown to the court, he pleaded guilty in 1989 to one count of indecent liberties and was given a suspended sentence of 24 months and ordered to register as a sex offender — for one year.

The extent of his serial attacks began to come to light about four years ago following a $16.5-million agreement with the bankrupt Christian Brothers, when 52 of 400 U.S. abuse claimants named Courtney as their attacker, records show.

Courtney, who did not respond to phone messages at his home in Oahu this week, denied in a 2009 court deposition he committed any serious offenses over the years. He “improperly touched” some students, he said, but he was young and “I guess that’s maybe why I didn’t realize that these things bothered others as much. I don’t know.”

Complete Article HERE!

10/10/17

Number of women accusing Catholic priest of sexual abuse rises to 23

Attorney Mitchell Garabedian (right) and Robert Hoatson (left) at a news conference held by Road to Recovery, a non-profit charity that assists victims of sexual abuse, outside St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Friday Oct. 7, 2016.

BY

The number of women alleging they were abused as children by a Catholic priest in Queens has swelled to 23, the Daily News has learned.

The accusers of former Rev. Adam Prochaski, ranging in age from 39 to 57, say the priest abused them in the Holy Cross parish in Maspeth between 1972 and 1994. The women were between 11 to 16 years old when the abuse allegedly took place.

Mitchell Garabedian, their lawyer, said he’s been contacted by women now living in six states, as well as Canada and London. When he first came forward with the allegations, there were 15 accusers.

“Many of them claim he abused them for years in the school, the church, the rectory, and some were abused in his car,” Garabedian said.

“The police are investigating this matter. I have forwarded many of my clients’ names to them and I am informed they are interviewing my clients.”

Diocese of Brooklyn spokeswoman Carolyn Erstad said the growing number of accusers is “terrible.”

“Anytime there is news of another survivor, it is devastating to the diocese, the clergy, the faithful,” she said. 

“It is important for people to know that while the allegations against Prochaski are surfacing for the first time, all of the alleged incidents coming to light took place decades ago and before sweeping reform was implemented to ensure the protection of children and the prosecution of perpetrators.”

Garabedian was portrayed by the actor Stanley Tucci in the Oscar-winning 2015 film “Spotlight,” about The Boston Globe’s investigation into clergy sexual abuse in Boston.

The Brooklyn Diocese created a fund this year for alleged victims of sexual abuse. It has said that according to records, two women came forward to report Prochaski in 1994. Those complaints were not turned over to authorities until 2002 and 2003.

Adam Prochaski is accused of abusing 23 children as a priest at Holy Cross Church in Maspeth between 1972 and 1994.

The Queens district attorney’s office told the Daily News it investigated a range of allegations against multiple priests referred to it by the church in 2002.

“The allegations were reviewed by the experienced career prosecutors of our Special Victims Bureau,” said Kevin Ryan, a spokesman for Queens District Attorney Richard Brown.

“Unfortunately, all of the allegations dated back many years — even decades — and therefore were not prosecutable within the statute of limitations.”

Garabedian said many of the alleged victims are first-generation Polish immigrants.

Prochaski had a program of bringing in young women from Poland, according to several people familiar with his work.

The diocese said Prochaski was suspended in 1994 after two women made allegations against him. He left the priesthood in 1995.

However, the official Catholic directory shows he was absent on sick leave or other leave from 1994 through 2002. Garabedian said that suggests the church was protecting him.

“The question remains, where were the supervisors, and why weren’t they protecting the children?” Garabedian said.

Complete Article HERE!

10/6/17

Vatican Shines Light on Child Abuse as Claims Against Priests Persist

Pope Francis at the Vatican on Wednesday. He has said that the church “arrived late” to the sexual abuse crisis.

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For a church hierarchy excoriated for decades over the sexual abuse of children in its trust, hosting a conference this week about the spreading scourge of online child pornography was an opportunity to strike a positive note about the Vatican’s role in protecting minors.

“Yes, yes, yes,” said Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, when asked Tuesday night at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome if the Catholic Church could lead a global response to the problem.

But in an awkward confluence of events, the four-day congress, Child Dignity in the Digital World, is taking place mere weeks after the Holy See recalled Msgr. Carlo Capella, a church diplomat in the Vatican Embassy in Washington, amid accusations that he had possessed child pornography.

It was just the latest of the abuse accusations against priests that have dogged the church around the globe for decades even as it has promised to punish predators and protect the preyed upon. Advocates for the victims have questioned the church’s commitment.

Last week, as organizers prepared for the congress — with its keynote address by Cardinal Parolin, the second-highest-ranking official after Pope Francis; blanket coverage by the church’s news media; and a papal audience with Francis on Friday — the Canadian police issued an arrest warrant for Monsignor Capella. He was accused of distributing child pornography during a Christmas visit in 2016 to Ontario.

Cardinal Parolin, speaking to reporters on Tuesday before his address, called the case a “very painful affair, a great trial for all those who are involved.” He said the priest’s case was being handled with the “utmost seriousness.” The Vatican has also said that the Holy See’s chief prosecutor was investigating and that if the monsignor was tried and convicted, he could be sentenced up to 12 years in a Vatican jail.

The Vatican has done much to address child abuse by clergy members, which has threatened to stain the entire church. (Pope Benedict XVI once memorably called it “filth.”) It has removed abusive priests, worked more closely with local law enforcement officials, toughened its laws and generally adopted a “zero tolerance” approach.

But advocates for victims have argued that the Vatican’s invocation of diplomatic immunity to recall the Italian monsignor from the United States shows that it still prioritizes protecting its own.

In his speech before top Italian officials and representatives from Interpol, the United Nations, Russia, China, the United States, Facebook and Microsoft, Cardinal Parolin spoke at length about the growing threat of internet abuse on the spirit and psyches of young users. He acknowledged that when it came to the exploitation and abuse of children, “over the past few decades, this tragic reality has come powerfully to the fore in the Catholic Church, and extremely grave facts have emerged.”

Last month, Francis said in unscripted remarks to a commission he had created to advise him on the issue that the church had “arrived late” to the crisis. He lamented his leniency, early in his pontificate, toward an Italian priest who subsequently continued his abuse.

“The old practice of moving people around and not confronting the problem made consciences fall asleep,” the pope said. He said he would limit the chances of pedophile priests to appeal their convictions by church tribunals.

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Vatican’s secretary of state, at the Child Dignity in the Digital World conference in Rome on Tuesday.

But critics say Vatican action has lagged behind the pope’s words. For example, a tribunal to discipline bishops who cover up abuse was disbanded because, the pope said, the Vatican already had the requisite offices to deal with the issue.

A commission Francis created with top cardinals, outside experts and abuse victims (the committee’s only two victims have since left) has seemed stifled by Vatican bureaucracy.

And the pope brought Cardinal George Pell to Rome as a top adviser despite allegations of abuse against him. The cardinal is now back in Australia facing charges of sexual assault against minors.

Advocates for abuse victims say they consider the Capella case a shameful echo of an earlier episode involving Josef Wesolowski, a Polish archbishop accused of abusing children in the Dominican Republic, where he served as the Vatican ambassador. The Vatican removed the archbishop and denied appeals that he be tried in the Dominican Republic. He was defrocked and died in the Vatican before facing justice.

The Rev. Hans Zollner, a member of the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, said he was confident that this time, the accused cleric would face justice.

“Everyone who commits a crime needs to be punished,” he said. “Period.”

The congress, meanwhile, is seeking ways to protect children in what has been depicted as a frightening digital world, where abusers surf a dark web and child pornography proliferates.

The conference has included top experts in the field speaking about the risks as more children in developing countries go online. They have discussed troubling statistics, such as the finding last year by the Internet Watch Foundation that more than 57,000 websites contained images of children being sexually abused. And they have sat on panels such as one called International Politics and Law Regarding Child Sexual Abuse.

For years, top Vatican officials in Rome had dismissed the abuse crisis as a unique product of the Anglo-Saxon world, and suggested that it had been overplayed by the news media. But organizers of the congress said the majority of the experts came from countries in the global north because that is where the problem has been confronted most aggressively.

In an interview, Father Zollner said that on his global travels looking into the problem, he had observed that bishops and clerics in countries such as Malawi were finally facing an issue they would not talk about as recently as a year ago. But other nations are still constrained by local cultural taboos about discussing child abuse, he said.

Italy, he noted, was not without its own bombshell reports of sexual abuse in the church. He compared the book “Lust,” about abuse in the Vatican, by the investigative journalist Emiliano Fittipaldi, to the breakthrough reports by The Boston Globe’s Spotlight team on the cover-up of priests’ sexual abuse of children.

Father Zollner he said the media focus on Monsignor Capella could have a positive side effect and put “more attention to the topic of the congress,” which, he said, was to better understand the phenomenon of child pornography and how to prevent it.

“That is our whole purpose,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!