Survivors group accuses archdiocese of ‘hiding’ 5 predator priests

— Archbishop Bernard Hebda released a response stating internal investigators will now review clergy records.

Archbishop Bernard Hebda

By Kiya Edwards

Church bells rang just as the press conference began. Outside the Cathedral of St. Paul, sexual assault survivor Frank Meuers recalled his painful past and ongoing frustrations.

“My abuser is from this diocese,” Meuers said. “I have people in my support group who probably started being abused back in the ’50s. I walked up and down that sidewalk more than once holding a sign saying I’d been abused … I tried to work with two previous bishops. They refused to work with me.”

Meuers is Minnesota’s director of Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, a volunteer position.

“It should ring a bell with adults. Never did,” he said. “The abuse, the hurt, the pain is never over.”

Fellow survivor David Clohessy was one of the group’s first leaders after it formed 35 years ago.

“I too by the way am a clergy sex abuse victim of a predator priest in Missouri,” Clohessy said. “Let me just stress, this is not our job … The Archbishop is the one who has the duty and the resources to expose all of the predators.”

They’re asking Archbishop Bernard Hebda of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis to add five names to this public list of clergy accused of sexual abuse. Of them, two are alive today.

As none of the priests are on the list, KARE 11 has chosen not to name them at this time.

But group members wrote all 5 names in sidewalk chalk Wednesday following their press conference. While they say the clerics all worked in the Twin Cities at some point in their careers, they can’t confirm if they abused anyone while working here. However, the survivors claim churches in other states where they worked have identified the clerics on their websites, so they want local leadership to do the same.

“Each of the 5 priests we’re focusing on today has been … declared a credibly accused child molester by his own direct supervisor,” Clohessy said.

Archbishop Hebda released the following statement in response to the allegations:

“The Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis has been blessed to have had a positive working relationship with the Minnesota chapter of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP). I have been grateful that their leaders have been in regular communication with Archdiocesan staff and with me over recent years and have collaborated with us to continue to create and maintain safe environments in our churches and schools. At times, they have been helpful bringing to our attention information concerning actions that have been taken by other dioceses or religious communities regarding clerics who have served in this Archdiocese. 

Per our policy and protocol, we have already begun the process of investigating the names of the individuals brought forward today. 

For example, when we were notified about the actions taken by the Diocese of Green Bay in 2022 concerning Rev. Dennis Lally, a priest who had served here before 1982 and listed today by SNAP, our team promptly investigated the situation and determined that for that individual, there was a substantiated claim of abuse. For that reason, his name was added to our list two years ago. 

As to the other five men brought to our attention by SNAP today, I have asked our experienced investigators to review the clergy records here at the Archdiocese, along with other available information, to determine whether the well-established criteria for adding the men to our clergy disclosure list have been met. If the criteria are satisfied, we will add the names, as we have done on previous occasions. 

Victims/survivors and their loved ones have expressed to me how important it is for them to have complete and accurate disclosure lists. With that in mind, the Archdiocese is committed to adding names when appropriate. 

I thank victims/survivors and their loved ones for their advocacy on behalf of those who have been hurt by abuse and ask that all people of goodwill continue to join me in prayer for them.”

– Archbishop Bernard A. Hebda

Complete Article HERE!

Diocese of Fresno files for bankruptcy as it faces sexual abuse claims

By Ryan Foley

Another Catholic diocese in California has filed for bankruptcy as it seeks to adjudicate several claims of sexual abuse committed at the hands of clergy members.

The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fresno announced in a statement Tuesday that “the Diocese will file a petition for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy with the United States Bankruptcy Court in 2024.”

Bishop Joseph Brennan noted in an open letter to parishioners that a California state law “opened a three-year window for individuals to bring forward otherwise barred or expired claims for sexual abuse suffered as a child.”

“Since the closing of the filing window on December 31, 2022, we have been informed of 154 cases filed against our Diocese,” he stated.

Brennan outlined his two “definitive goals” of how to “continue to atone for the sin of clergy abuse” as “to make sure we are handling claims of abuse with equitable compassion and resolving those claims as fairly as possible” as well as “to ensure the continuation of ministry within our Diocese.”

Brennan cited a declaration of bankruptcy, which he expects to file in August, as a way to “address the substantial number of claims brought forth by victims collectively” that “will allow us to address those claims honestly, compassionately, and equitably.”

“Requesting a court-supervised reorganization is the only path that allows us to meet the goals stated above,” he said.

“The reorganization ensures all victims are compensated fairly and funds are not depleted by the first few cases addressed,” he added. “The process also allows the operation of our schools, parishes, and organizations to continue uninterrupted, since the only entity filing for bankruptcy protection is the corporate sole, known legally as The Roman Catholic Bishop of Fresno.”

Brennan insisted that “Catholic Charities and the Fresno Diocese Education Corporation, which operates the schools are separate legal or ecclesial entities and will not be filing for bankruptcy protection.”

A frequently-asked-questions page elaborating on the impacts of the bankruptcy declaration indicates that “it will pay for the claims from funds that are available to be used for such purposes,” adding “there is some insurance to cover abuse that occurred in past decades.”

The Diocese of Fresno is not the first diocese in California to file for bankruptcy amid a wave of sexual misconduct allegations directed at priests.

Earlier this year, the Diocese of Sacramento filed for bankruptcy as it seeks to resolve an even larger number of claims of sexual abuse committed by clergy.

The California state law that led to an increased volume of sexual assault allegations directed at clergy, Assembly Bill 118, declares: “In an action for recovery of damages suffered as a result of childhood sexual assault, the time for commencement of the action shall be within 22 years of the date the plaintiff attains the age of majority or within five years of the date the plaintiff discovers or reasonably should have discovered that psychological injury or illness occurring after the age of majority was caused by the sexual assault, whichever period expires later.”

The legislation, passed in 2019, allows “action for liability against any person or entity who owed a duty of care to the plaintiff if a wrongful or negligent act by that person or entity was a legal cause of the childhood sexual assault that resulted in the injury to the plaintiff.”

Complete Article HERE!

Support For Same-Sex Marriage Stalls Among Protestant Pastors

By Aaron Earls

Almost a decade after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country, most pastors remain opposed, and the supporting percentage isn’t growing any larger.

One in 5 U.S. Protestant pastors (21%) say they see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married, according to a Lifeway Research study. Three in 4 (75%) are opposed, including 69% who strongly disagree with same-sex marriage. Another 4% say they aren’t sure.

Previous Lifeway Research studies found growing support among pastors. In 2010, 15% of U.S. Protestant pastors had no moral issues with the practice. The percentage in favor grew to 24% in 2019. Today, support is statistically unchanged at 21%.

“Debates continue within denominations at national and judicatory levels on the morality of same-sex marriage, yet the overall number of Protestant pastors who support same-sex marriage is not growing,” said Scott McConnell, executive director of Lifeway Research. “The previous growth was seen most clearly among mainline pastors, and that level did not rise in our latest survey.”

Pastors are slightly more supportive of legal civil unions between two people of the same gender, but most still disagree. Currently, 28% back such arrangements, statistically unchanged from the 32% in 2019 and 28% in 2018.

For most pastors, this remains a somewhat theoretical issue. Almost 9 in 10 say they’ve never been asked to perform a same-sex ceremony, according to a 2022 Lifeway Research study.

Mainline versus evangelical

The previous growth in clergy support of same-sex marriages was driven by U.S. mainline Protestant pastors. In 2010, a third (32%) were in favor. By 2019, almost half (47%) saw nothing wrong. Current support among self-identified mainline pastors remains at similar levels (46%).

Evangelical pastors have been consistently opposed to same-sex marriage. Fewer than 1 in 10 have expressed support for the practice since 2010. Today, 7% of self-identified U.S. evangelical Protestant pastors say they see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married.

A similar divide exists regarding civil unions between two people of the same gender. Most mainline pastors (54%) are supportive, while only 14% of evangelical pastors agree.

Methodists (53%), Presbyterian/Reformed (36%) and Lutherans (34%) are more likely to be supportive of same-sex marriage than Restorationist Movement (8%), non-denominational (5%), Baptist (4%) or Pentecostal (1%) pastors.

Additionally, female pastors (42%), who are more common among mainline denominations, are far more likely than their male counterparts (16%) to back same-sex marriage.

Other demographic groups also have varying degrees of support, though none as drastic as the denominational differences.

Other differences

Younger pastors are more likely to be supportive than the oldest pastors. Protestant pastors 18 to 44 (27%) and 55 to 64 (22%) are more likely than pastors 65 and older (15%) to see nothing wrong with same-sex marriage.

“The moral and doctrinal beliefs of individuals do not tend to move very often or very far, so we wouldn’t expect pastors’ positions to change much,” said McConnell. “However, the differences we see by age make it noteworthy that the higher numbers of young pastors seeing nothing wrong with same-sex marriage is not yet having much of an impact on overall numbers.”

Those with more education are more supportive. Pastors with a master’s (30%) or doctoral degree (26%) are more likely than those with no college degree (9%) or a bachelor’s degree (7%) to say they’re OK with same-sex marriage.

Pastors in the Northeast (27%), where same-sex marriage was first legalized in the U.S., and the Midwest (25%), are more likely than those in the South (18%) to be supportive.

Those leading smaller churches are more likely to see nothing wrong with two people of the same gender getting married. Pastors at churches with fewer than 50 in attendance (27%) and those at congregations of 50 to 99 (25%) are more likely than those at churches with attendance between 100 and 249 (11%) and 250 or more (8%) to be in favor of same-sex marriage.

“Because fewer pastors in mid- and large-size churches are open to same-sex marriage morally, an even larger majority of Protestant churchgoers are in churches in which their pastor does not support same-sex marriages or civil unions,” said McConnell.

Many of the differences between various types of pastors exist for civil unions as well. Younger pastors are more likely to be supportive than older pastors. Pastors with more formal education are more likely to back civil unions.

Those in the Northeast and Midwest tend to be more in favor than those in the South. Pastors at the smallest churches are more likely to see nothing wrong with civil unions between two people of the same gender than those at larger churches.

Complete Article HERE!

Sex-related blunders, the never ending story at the Catholic Church

— Pope Francis’s homophobic slur helped distract the attention from other sex-related blunders affecting the Catholic Church all over Latin America.

By Rodolfo Soriano-Núñez

As with Pope Francis’s homophobic slur, Argentine archbishop Mestre’s sudden resignation reveals the many contradictions affecting the Catholic Church.

On top of the Roman and Argentine sex-related blunders, new details about clergy sexual abuse in the Catholic Church emerged in Ecuador and Bolivia in the first week of June.

News of Pope Francis’s using a homophobic slur during a meeting with Italian bishops, back on May 20th, stressed the contradictions in Roman Catholic doctrine and practice about sexuality.

Oddly enough, it also played well to hide another blunder made by two of the closest allies of the Pontiff both in Rome and back in Argentina, while hiding from view other attempts of the Church’s hierarchy in Argentina at making themselves relevant in the public sphere.

A few hours before the Italian newspaper La Repubblica’s social media accounts turned the internet into a burning prairie of sorts, news about the sudden resignation of archbishop Gabriel Antonio Mestre, shocked those of us who follow what happens in the Latin American Catholic leadership with news about his resignation.

At first, it was hard to understand what could force the resignation of a recent appointee to the Archdiocese of La Plata, the third or fourth most relevant see of the Catholic Church in the Pope’s country of origin.

Hard, but not unheard, as Los Ángeles Press proved a year ago when we published a full data base with the names of 110 early or unexpected resignations of bishops, a proxy of sorts for the depth of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the countries where those resignations happen. Here you can download an updated version of the Data Base with the most recent resignations.

Although few noticed Mestre’s resignation outside of Argentina in the mess that Catholic Internet was on the last week of May, his case confirms, for the 111th time, how unwilling is the Church to provide information as to why its leaders resign their office. It also proves how unwilling are the global Catholic leaders to address the crisis of confidence undermining the foundations of Catholicism.

As it happened with the Pope’s slur, Mestre’s sudden resignation stresses how opacity makes harder to take the Church’s words at face value; it deepens the crisis of confidence in an institution already facing the deepest crisis of trust in its history.

It is not as if Mestre was only one more bishop forced out of office in his prime due to bad choices or poor decision making. He was close to both Pope Francis and to the current chair of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith who was his predecessor at the archdiocese of La Plata, Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández.

Perverse dynamics

Although it is clear that he had not been named a sexual predator, when looking at the silence, and the remains of his much-hyped appointment, it was clear that behind his sudden disappearance from the Catholic firmament is the reenactment of the perverse dynamics fueling the clergy sexual abuse crisis at a global scale.

 
Front page and page 14 of La Nación, a leading Argentine newspaper’s edition of Sunday May 26th, 2024.

What is worse. The toxic combination of the news about Mestre’s exit and the Pope’s slur scandal emerging in Rome the very same day made impossible to pay attention to the Argentine bishops’ attempt at confronting the deep political and economic crisis at their country.

On Saturday May 25th, less than 36 hours before the news of both Mestre’s resignation and the scandal regarding Pope Francis’s slur emerged, the current archbishop of Buenos Aires, Jorge García Cuerva, used his chance as the leading figure of the Te Deum at the cathedral in his country’s capital to stress the many contradictions of the current Argentine government.

 
Javier Milei and the archbishop Jorge García Cuerva at the Roman Catholic Cathedral of Buenos Aires, Argentina. May 2024.

Him and the rest of Argentine bishops had been preparing for their performance in the rituals around the so-called Fiesta de Mayo (May 25th), a precursor of their Independence from Spain. García Cuerva and his fellow bishops aimed at using the Te Deum and other associated public activities to make the Church’s position clear on the current crisis.

On top of García Cuerva’s message on May 25th’s Te Deum, the chair of the Argentine Conference of Catholic Bishops, Óscar Vicente Ojea, the bishop of San Isidro, also issued a message.

Ojea addressed one of Argentina’s hot topics, the destiny, uncertain for many reasons, of tons of foodstuffs that were supposed to be delivered by the government but, somehow, in a fashion that would only happen in Latin America, ended up “lost” in the shelves of governmental entities, unable or unwilling to deliver them.

 
Clarín, a leading Argentine newspaper, from May 28th, 2024.

The political situation in Argentina was so bad that on Monday May 27th, when Mestre resigned and news about the Pontifical slur emerged in Rome, the Nation’s Chief of Cabinet, Nicolás Posse, resigned his office after weeks of rumors about the bad relation he already had with Javier Milei.

On the afternoon of Tuesday June 4th. Cáritas Argentina, the equivalent of Catholic Charities USA, used the same cathedral where archbishop García Cuerva called for a restoration of political sanity to organize a massive meal (see, in Spanish here, here and here), as to send a clear, undeniable message about the depth of the crisis there and the non-partisan nature of the Church’s involvement.

Mothers of the Fatherland

The communal meal was the first of a series of activities linking the current crisis in Argentina with Cáritas Argentina yearly campaign seeking donations to fund the so-called “communal pots”, offering meals to families in need all over Argentina.

The bishops were even promoting the figures of the females running those “communal pots”, most of them lay persons, with families of their own, calling them in Argentine Catholic media and social media “Mothers of the Fatherland” (Madres de la Patria).

The activities around the so-called Mothers of the Fatherland will continue up until June 19th, with a mass at the municipality of La Matanza, as can the picture posted immediately after this paragraph shows.

 
The ad promoting a mass for the “Mothers of the Fatherland”, the women behing the communal pots in Argentina.

La Matanza is a stronghold of Peronismo. The former minister of Finance, Sergio Massa, the Peronista presidential candidate won 61.2 percent of the more than 781 thousand votes casted there in the ballotage of November 2023.

Even the top Catholic think-tank in the country, the Observatorio de la Deuda Social Argentina, a non-for-profit, originally launched by Jorge Mario Bergoglio during his tenure as archbishop of Buenos Aires and chancellor of the Universidad Católica Argentina back in the aughts, published new data about the extent of the current crisis in that country.

The report can be read in the box immediately below or can be downloaded here.

Had the hierarchy of the Catholic Church in Argentina been able to keep itself together, without any of the two scandals, the one at La Plata or the one in Rome, they would have come out with an advantage in giving some sense of order, of direction, in their country.

The multiple fiasco that has been Catholic communications over the last couple of weeks made that impossible. Despite García Cuerva’s best efforts to deliver a powerful yet respectful critique of President Javier Milei’s policies, the mess created by Mestre’s sudden resignation and Francis’s own mistake blurred García Cuerva’s Te Deum message.

Damaging policies

Even if some of the old Argentine media used García Cuerva’s message on their editions of May 26th to highlight their own angst with the uncertain future of the national government there, the Church’s critique of the damaging policies pursued by the Milei administration, had no chance to trump the combined effects of the slur and Mestre’s sudden and unexplained exit.

Mestre was not a minor figure in the Argentine Roman Catholic hierarchy. The archdiocese of La Plata is, on its own a very powerful position, held up until 2018 by conservative Héctor Rubén Aguer, the main rival of Jorge Mario Bergoglio when both were auxiliary bishops at Buenos Aires, and a key supporter of sexual predator Carlos Miguel Buela, as the story available only in Spanish linked after this paragraph describes.

If I was asked to rank the top archdioceses in Argentina, La Plata would come fourth, only behind Buenos Aires, Córdoba, and Rosario. The city of La Plata, whose downtown is more French inspired than the city of Buenos Aires. It is the capital of the province or state of Buenos Aires (not to be confused with the eponymous city, the national capital). Mestre got the job when Pope Francis made Víctor Manuel Fernández a Cardinal and head of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith.

To think that Mestre’s choice to become Tucho Fernández’s heir could be an improvised decision would be preposterous.

Before taking over Fernández’s see, he was bishop in the suffragan diocese of Mar del Plata, a city and port on the Argentine Atlantic coast, 330 kilometers or 200 miles South of La Plata and 375 kilometers or 234 miles South of Buenos Aires, as can be seen in the map immediately after.

 
A map of the City and Province of Buenos Aires, with the cities of La Plata and Mar del Plata, in Argentina.

Pope Francis appointed him back in 2017 and remained for little more than six years, until Fernández got his own promotion, so there is no way to claim that there were not enough chances to vet Mestre’s appointments as bishop of Mar del Plata and later as archbishop of La Plata.

Hermetic silence

To make matters worse, Mestre’s own heir at Mar del Plata, from November 21st, through December 13th of 2023, bishop José María Baliña, a former auxiliary bishop of Buenos Aires, also resigned in the middle of the most hermetic silence.

Despite the silence regarding Baliña, Argentine local media published reports where his successor was supposed to be Gustavo Manuel Larrazábal. Catholic Hierarchy, the website this series uses as the base for these reports on the Catholic Church at a global scale, actually has Larrazábal as bishop of Mar del Plata for little over a month, from December 13th, 2023 through January 17th, 2024, when he resigned that position and went back to act as auxiliary bishop of San Juan de Cuyo.

 
La Nación from May 28th, 2024. On the front page and page 13 provides some details about Mestre’s resignation.

He went back to the position he was appointed back on June 2022, despite news published in local newspapers at Mar del Plata that were confirming on January 9th, 2024 that Larrazábal was about to take over as local bishop (see here in Spanish and here also in Spanish), although it was clear by January 11th, that Larrazábal new appointment was not going to come through (see in Spanish here).

Larrazábal’s appointment fell apart because of accusations of sexual abuse. It is not possible to say the same of either Mestre’s or Baliña’s, but the Church itself, either in Rome or at the offices of the Argentine Conference of Catholic Bishops in Buenos Aires, is unwilling to provide information on any of the three bishops involved in this fiasco.

As far as it is possible to know, Mestre’s fate was cast after a group showed up during mass to protest for his handling of the case of a priest under his care who left Mar del Plata for the diocese of Jujuy.

The group asked archbishop to stop the transfer of priest Luis Damián Albóndiga to Jujuy, a province or state in the Argentina Northern, on the other side of the country, near the border with Chile, more than 1,700 kilometers or more than 1,050 miles Northwest from Mar del Plata.

It is not clear what are the reasons behind the mobilization to reject Albóndiga’s transfer to the other extreme of Argentina, what is clear is that something damaging had to be at stake for Rome to react as it did.

What Mestre’s sudden resignation and the effects it had on the chances of the Catholic hierarchy to deliver a consistent message in the middle of the political and economic crisis in Argentina is that there is no cure for the propensity to sexual-scandal related blunders, as this was one of many during the month of May in the Catholic Church at a global scale.

May opened at a global scale with the faux pas of the Mexican Catholic hierarchy that first talked about the disappearance of Salvador Rangel, the emeritus bishop of Chilpancingo, Mexico, the story linked immediately after this paragraph that reveals how frail is the position of the Catholic Church in Mexico.

More geographic “solutions”

If that was not enough, in Ecuador, the local hierarchy there and their peers at Colombia got themselves into a mess of their own making when news erupted about how priests with credible accusations of sexual abuse move from one country into the other.

Previously on this series Los Ángeles Press has dealt with the use of the so-called geographic solution to clergy sexual abuse; that is to say, to move around predator priests from one country to other.

Unlike what happened with priest from Paraguay who was about to resume his career in Oaxaca, Mexico, neither the Ecuadoran nor the Colombian bishops seem to be interested in preventing the Ecuadoran priest from going to Colombia to “reinvent” himself as a priest there.

And, as the Spanish website Religión Digital  stresses, archbishop Alfredo José Espinoza Mateus, originally a priest of the Salesian order, offered his priests as advice that if they were going to do “something stupid” they should do it in such a fashion that they would not bring about scandal.

The archbishop words are somehow troubling in Latin America where “pendejadas”, here translated neutrally as something stupid or something done by a child, could turn into an even worse scandal in Mexico and Central America where “pendejadas” has a ruder meaning, similar to “dumb shit” or something along those lines.

To make matters worse, in the early days of June, out of Bolivia further details emerged of the scale of clergy sexual abuse happening at the flagship institution of the Jesuits there in the last decades of the 20th century at the Colegio (school) Juan XXIII. Now the number of victims could be of at least four hundred males who were then minors.

Adding insult to injury, there is no indication as to whether the Spanish or the Bolivian provinces of Pope Francis’s religious order of origin, the Jesuits, will be willing to face the consequences of the behavior of members of that congregation, as can be read in this story from Bolivian media or, if you are willing to pay for a subscription, on this one from El Periódico de Aragón, a newspaper from Spain, whose most recent story on the issue appears as an image next.

 
Pages 28 and 29 from El Periódico de Aragón, Spain, June 7th, 2024.

What all these stories have in common is the perverse confluence of a religion that pretends to be rigid about sexuality, living a civil war of sorts because of the conflicting views about sexuality hold by their leaders, but that is unable to figure out a consistent, livable, solution to its own theology of sexuality.

The very archdiocese of La Plata offers various perfect examples of the contradictions marring the fruits of Catholic theology of sexuality. Back in 2023, in a story only published in Spanish, we offered an account of how a predator cleric in that district of the Argentine Roman Catholic Church ended up committing suicide after a judge issued an arrest warrant.

Although the abuse happened before Víctor Manuel Fernández’s time there, during Aguer’s tenure as archbishop Fernández was already there when parents of Catholic schools in the archdiocese asked him to avoid giving him a new assignment. What is worse, Fernández, publicly expressed support for the predator priest and even after his suicide, he had few words to offer to his victims.

And yes, Fernández’s writings on sexuality are not as affected by contradictions as the behavior of many predator priests, and there are no claims about Fernández abusing people under his care, but the very reactions Fernández faces because of his old writings about sexuality prove how marginal he is within the context of contemporary Roman Catholicism and its theological understanding of sexuality.

Two of those books are available here at Los Ángeles Press, in Spanish in the entries linked immediately before and immediately after this paragraph. Moreover, it is hard to say if current Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández would be willing to issue the Nihil Obstat for the publication of what priest Víctor Manuel Fernández wrote back in the 1990s.

The Catholic hierarchy, Argentine and global, would do itself a favor were they willing to accept how damaging the sudden resignation of archbishop Mestre and bishops Baliña and Larrazábal were, even in the absence of the pontifical slur.

Finally, it must be noted that to replace, at least for the time being archbishop Mestre, Pope Francis appointed auxiliary bishop of La Plata Alberto G. Bochatey.

Originally an Augustianian Friar, Bochatey has been an auxiliary since the days of Archbishop Aguer as head of the Archdiocese. As such, he was involved in Aguer’s faulty probes of sexual abuses cases in that diocese, including the one that ended in the 2019 suicide of predator priest Eduardo Lorenzo.

On his own, back in 2017, he was appointed by Pope Francis in charge of the probe regarding one of worst scandals in the history of clergy sexual abuse in Argentina and Latin America at large: the so-called Próvolo case.

As such, that case would require a full entry and perhaps a full book. Suffice to say at this point that it was a school for deaf boys and girls, and at least two priests, two nuns, and several employees of the Instituto Próvolo were originally charged with various forms of sexual abuse.

Sadly, the Argentine system of justifce found a way to exonerate some of those accused of sexually abusing students attending that school, originally located in the city of Luján de Cuyo, province of Mendoza.

In that regard, even if temporary, Bochatey’s appointment as head of the archdiocese of La Plata exacerbates the negative perception of how the Catholic Church deals globally with the effects of the sexual abuse crisis.

 
Bishop Bochatey, now in charge of La Plata, Bishop Ojea and the ambassador of Israel in Argentina,

Finally, there is a link to last week’s story, where I trace the origins and effects of the Pope’s homophobic slur during a private meeting with the Italian Roman Catholic Bishops.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope writes preface for book by LGBT-rights activist Fr James Martin

Pope Francis has written a preface for a new book by one of the Catholic Church’s most prominent apologists for the global gay rights movement.

By Simon Caldwell

The book by Fr James Martin, a Jesuit and media personality in the US, who is also editor at large of America: The Jesuit Review, is a meditation on the raising of Lazarus, which some critics say is presented in a way that can be seen as a metaphor for the encouragement of people with same-sex attractions to “come out” and “embrace” their sexuality.

In his preface to Come Forth: The Raising of Lazarus and the Promise of Jesus’ Greatest Miracle, which was published in Italian today and will be available in English from the autumn, Pope Francis describes Fr Martin as the “author of many other books that I know and appreciate” and a writer who has “the perspective of a person who has fallen in love with the Word of God”.

He praises Fr Martin’s book as “always fascinating and never predictable”, adding that the author is able to make “the biblical text come alive”.

The Pope said the book illustrates how the faithful can “practically feel the profound meaning of what Jesus does when He finds Himself before a dead man who is really dead, whose body gives off a nasty odour”.

“Jesus isn’t scared of coming close to sinners – to any sinner, even the most brazen and undaunted,” the Pope writes.

Rather, Jesus’s only concern, he says, is that “no one goes missing, that none are deprived of the possibility of feeling the loving embrace of His Father”.

“As I read the careful arguments and exegeses of the biblical scholars he cites, it made me wonder how often we manage to approach Scripture with the ‘hunger’ of a person who knows that that word really is the Word of God,” continues the Pope.

“The fact that God ‘speaks’ should give us a little jolt each and every day. The Bible truly is the nourishment we need to handle our lives. It’s the ‘love letter’ that God has sent — since long ago — to men and women living in every time and place.”

He added: “Rooting himself firmly in the Ignatian tradition, Father Martin brings us directly into the story of this friend of Jesus. We’re his friends, too — ’dead’ as we sometimes are on account of our sins, our failings and infidelities, the despondency that discourages us and crushes our spirits. Jesus is hardly afraid to get close to us — even when we ‘reek’ like a dead body that’s been buried for three days.

“No, Jesus isn’t afraid of our death, or our sin. He waits just outside the closed door of our hearts, that door that only opens from within, that we lock with a double bolt whenever we think God could never forgive us.”

The Pope’s praise for Fr Martin’s book comes a week after the pontiff caused controversy by telling the Italian bishops there was too much frociaggine (faggotry) in seminaries, and suggesting that candidates for the priesthood should be screened for their sexual preferences.

The backlash prompted the Vatican to issue an apology and to clarify the Pope’s inclusive approach to people with same-sex attractions.

“The Pope never intended to offend or express himself in homophobic terms, and he apologises to those who felt offended by the use of a term, as reported by others,” the Vatican statement said. It was reported that the Pope also, in a gesture that some interrupted as an attempt to mend fences, sent a sympathetic response to a young man who reached out to him after being rejected from seminary for being gay.

Fr Martin is a controversial figure for many Catholics because he has openly championed gay rights causes for years, including public speculation on whether St John Henry Newman was a homosexual just two days before he was beatified in 2010.

He repeated the same claim on the eve of the canonisation of the English saint in 2019, saying that St John Henry’s “relationship with Ambrose St. John is worthy of attention. It isn’t a slur to suggest that Newman may have been gay”.

In 2017, Fr Martin brought out a book on LGBT issues in the Church, called Building a Bridge, which included a preface by Cardinal Matteo Zuppi of Bologna who praised his adoption of secular ideological categories to understand same-sex attraction as “a necessary step for beginning a respectful conversation”.

Fr Martin later said on Facebook that the preface by Cardinal Zuppi was “a huge vote of confidence by an important prelate” for ministry to LGBT Catholics.

Fr Martin was subsequently offered a place by Pope Francis at last year’s Synod on Synodality in Rome.

Following the publication of Fiducia Supplicans, the Vatican declaration in December 2023 that provided for the non-liturgical blessings of same sex couples, Fr Martin was much involved in the subsequent media storm, especially on social media, and declared that “I will now be delighted to bless my friends in same-sex unions”.

Cardinal Víctor Manuel Fernández, the Prefect of the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith, has stressed that the document does not imply an endorsement of sexual activity which the Church has traditionally held to be morally impermissible.

He did, however, last week respond to claims that the document was being used precisely for that purpose by dismissing such abuses as minor compared to clerical sex abuse.

The cardinal told the Spanish media outlet Alfa&Omega that when it came to Fiducia Supplicans being misused and wrongly interpreted, while “the most serious cases can be reported to the local bishop, I don’t believe we have to go on a witch hunt”.

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