05/22/18

Australian Archbishop Found Guilty In Cover-Up Of Child Sex Abuse

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Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson has been found guilty of concealing child sex abuse by a fellow priest that he first learned of in the 1970s.

Wilson, 67, the senior-most Catholic cleric ever to be charged with concealing abuse, has been diagnosed with early stage Alzheimer’s disease. He denied under oath last month that two former altar boys told him of abuse by another priest, Father Jim Fletcher, in the 1970s, at a church in East Maitland, New South Wales. Fletcher, who was found guilty on multiple counts of sexual assault of boys in 2004, died of a stroke in jail two years later.

Wilson’s verdict was handed down by Magistrate Robert Stone in Newcastle Local Court at the conclusion of the eight-day trial.

The archbishop showed no emotion as the verdict was read inside a packed courtroom, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.

Wilson’s sentence is expected on June 19.

Archbishop of Adelaide Philip Wilson

According to Australia’s ABC, “As part of his defence, Wilson’s legal team tried to argue that as child sexual abuse was not considered a serious crime in the 1970s, it was not worthy of being reported to authorities.”

Outside the courtroom, abuse survivor Peter Gogarty said the verdict was one of the most significant in Australian history.

“On behalf of all of the victims — who have been abused in this country and elsewhere — I just want to say what an enormous relief it is that the people who let this happen are finally being brought to account,” he told ABC.

The court’s decision comes as Australia grapples with another high-level priest abuse case — Cardinal George Pell was ordered earlier this month to stand trial in Melbourne on charges involving allegations of abuse that date back decades.

In Wilson’s trial, Peter Creigh, a former altar boy testified that in 1976 he told Wilson, then a junior priest in East Maitland, that Fletcher had abused him.

Prosecutors had to prove that Wilson should have remembered the conversations with Creigh — who was 15 when he first spoke with Wilson of the abuse five years before — and another altar boy, whose name has not been made public, at the time of Fletcher’s trial in 2004, the Herald reports.

The Australian reports that “… it’s alleged then Wilson should have had knowledge or belief that Mr Creigh was the victim of a serious offence committed by Fletcher, based on what he had been told in 1976.”

Wilson said he had no recollection of the conversations. He told the court that if they did take place, he would have remembered it.

“I think it is unlikely because the nature of the evidence was so graphic,” Wilson told the magistrate. “I don’t think I would have forgotten that.”

Wilson, asked by his lawyer if he had any suspicions about Fletcher at the time, said he had none.

Creigh testified that he believed Wilson would take action against Fletcher, but that nothing was done.

The magistrate said he did not accept that Wilson could not remember the conversations with the altar boys in the 1970s.

In an emailed statement to the media, Wilson said he was disappointed by the verdict and that he would consult his attorneys to decide a next step.

Amid worldwide allegations of long-standing abuse in the church, Australia last year published a landmark study of the problem in that country.

The far-reaching report, which took five years to complete, interviewed more than 8,000 people who shared their experiences of abuse and 2,500 cases were referred to police as a result.

Among its recommendations, the report said the church should lift its celibacy requirement for priests and be required to report evidence of abuse revealed in confession.

Complete Article HERE!

05/18/18

All Chilean bishops quit over child abuse scandal: spokesman

In a statement, the 34 Chilean bishops asked “forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims”

By Vincenzo PINTO

Thirty-four Chilean bishops announced their resignation Friday over a child sex abuse scandal within the Church in Chile after three days of intense meetings with Pope Francis at the Vatican.

“We, all the bishops present in Rome, have tendered our resignation to the Holy Father so that he may decide freely for each of us,” the bishops said in a statement read out by a spokesman at the Vatican.

“We want to ask forgiveness for the pain caused to the victims, to the Pope, to God’s people and to our country for the serious errors and omissions we have committed,” the statement continued.

The striking announcement comes after Francis summoned the bishops to the Vatican over the scandal that has come to haunt his papacy.

Several members of the Chilean church hierarchy are accused by victims of ignoring and covering up child abuse by Chilean paedophile priest Fernando Karadima during the 1980s and 1990s.

“We thank the victims for their perseverance and courage, despite the enormous personal, spiritual, social and family difficulties they had to face, to which were often added the incomprehension and attacks of the Church community,” Friday’s statement said.

On Thursday evening, Francis promised “changes” to the Chilean church to “restore justice” following the private meetings with the delegation.

Complete Article HERE!

05/9/18

The clergy sex abuse scandal explained in 3 minutes: video

By Ivey DeJesus

As early as this month, the findings of a grand jury investigation into clergy sex abuse across six Pennsylvania dioceses could be released by the state’s Office of Attorney General.

The findings into the abuse of children by priests and church workers in the dioceses of Harrisburg, Scranton, Allentown, Greensburg, Pittsburgh and Eric would mark the latest chapter into the decades-old clergy sex abuse scandal in this country.

This three-minute video helps broadly explain the some of the key developments in this country, particularly out of Pennsylvania.

Complete Article HERE!

05/4/18

Pope said to admit being ‘part of the problem’ of covering up clergy sexual abuse in Chile

Pope Francis attends his weekly general audience, in St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican on Wednesday.

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During hours of emotional meetings at the Vatican, Pope Francis begged for forgiveness from Chileans alleging priestly sexual abuse — according to those in attendance — who described their meeting with the pontiff as a “defining moment” in his papacy and demanded that he follow through by ousting Chilean bishops they accuse of coverups.

“I have never seen someone so contrite. He was truly sorry, and I felt he was hurting,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, one of three people invited to sit down with the pope over the weekend for individual meetings. “He said, ‘I was part of the problem. I caused this,’ ” said Cruz, who called his three-hour meeting with Francis “very raw.”

The three men allege they endured sexual abuse as youths in Chile at the hands of prelate Fernando Karadima, who was sentenced by the Vatican in 2011 to a lifetime of penance, which means he’s been forced to retire from public life and public ministry to a life of prayer for atonement.

The Vatican did not, however, believe the men’s claim that the abuse was witnessed and covered up by Chilean Bishop Juan Barros. Francis appointed Barros bishop of the town of Osorno in 2015, hugged him publicly during his visit to Chile in January and dismissed the men’s accounts as “slander.”

But as public fury in Chile grew, Francis drastically changed course last month, dispatching an abuse investigator to interview the men, inviting them to Rome, admitting he had made “serious mistakes” and summoning Chilean bishops to Rome later this month for a dressing down.

“For almost 10 years we have been treated as enemies because we fight against sexual abuse and coverup in the church,” the three men said in a statement released as they met reporters in Rome. “These days we met the friendly face of the church,” they added.

In a letter sent to Chilean bishops last month, Francis announced he felt “pain and shame” over the men’s accounts and said he wanted to “apologize to all those I have offended.”

A Vatican spokesman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.

Critics of Francis’ track record on halting abuse in the church say his blind spot in Chile proves he still “doesn’t get it.”

Jose Andres Murillo, one of the accusers, said he saw a shift in Francis’ attitude when the pope told him that “abuse is not a sin, but corruption.”

In their statement, the three men said, “We spoke with the pope about the pathological and unlimited exercise in power which is the cornerstone of sexual abuse and coverup.”

During the “intense and long hours of conversation,” they said Francis asked them to come up with ideas for putting things right.

James Hamilton, another of the accusers, told reporters one of the pope’s closest advisors, Chilean Cardinal Francisco Errazuriz, was “a real criminal” who deserved to be in jail.

The cardinal has long cast doubt on the accounts of the Chilean men and is suspected of influencing Francis.

“Errazuriz covered up Karadima’s abuse for five years,” said Hamilton, who is a surgeon in Santiago, the Chilean capital.

Hamilton said if the pope meant business, he should remove Errazuriz from his so-called C9 committee of cardinals advising him on Vatican reform.

“That is my expectation,” he said. “I would also love him to remove many bishops. This is a defining moment of his papacy.”

Hamilton said he will be watching carefully when Francis summons Chile’s bishops to Rome this month. Many expect that at the very least, the pope will rescind his appointment of Bishop Barros.

“We are waiting for action. We are not here for public relations,” Murillo said.

Cruz said he believed Francis had been convinced by advisors over the years to be suspicious of the accusers.

“I told him toxic people surrounded him, and he had been duped,” he said.

Complete Article HERE!

05/1/18

Cardinal George Pell To Face Sexual Assault Charges In Australia


Cardinal George Pell arrives at Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Tuesday in Melbourne, Australia.

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A magistrate in Australia has ordered Cardinal George Pell, one of the Vatican’s senior-most officials, to stand trial on sexual abuse charges involving allegations from multiple individuals dating back decades.

Pell is the highest-ranking Vatican official to be charged in the church’s long-standing sex abuse scandal.

Although Melbourne Magistrate Belinda Wallington dismissed many of the charges against Pell, who was appointed archbishop of Sydney in 2001 and later oversaw the Vatican’s finances under Pope Francis, she said that the prosecution’s case was strong enough to warrant a jury trial on the remaining charges.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Wallington, following a month-long hearing committed the 76-year-old cleric “on charges against multiple complainants, involving alleged sexual offending at a swimming pool in the 1970s in Ballarat [near Melbourne], where the accused man was then working as a priest; and at St Patrick’s Cathedral in Melbourne in 1990s, when he was the then Archbishop of Melbourne.”

Asked for a plea, a seated Pell – who has consistently denied wrongdoing — clearly announced, “Not guilty.”

Last year, Pell stated publicly, “I am innocent of these charges, they are false. The whole idea of sexual abuse is abhorrent to me.”

Lawyers for Pell had argued that all the allegations were untrue and should be dismissed.

More than 30 witnesses testified in the four-week hearing. The Associated Press writes, “His alleged victims testified in the first two weeks of the preliminary hearing via a video link from a remote location to a room closed to the media and public.”

Pell, who is free on bail, was due to appear in County Court on Wednesday to hear his trial date.

The Herald reports:

“After the magistrate left the bench, a group of people at the back of the court room clapped.”

… Cardinal Pell left the court building at 11.55am, and was jeered by people outside the building as he got in a white car and was driven away. A wall of police officers stood on the bottom two steps of the court building to ensure he was not surrounded by media.”

Complete Article HERE!