Florida Pastor Arrested Soliciting Sex from Men in Park

A Florida pastor was among those arrested this week in a sex sting in a public park:

ClarkPolk County Sheriff’s Office vice detectives arrested four men, including a pastor and a retired Canadian police officer, during an undercover operation today at Peace River Park in the Homeland area. Detectives said after they made contact with the men, the suspects exposed themselves and/or asked them to perform sex acts on them. Among those arrested was Matthew Preston Clark, 33, of Bartow, who told detectives he is senior pastor at the Blessed Assurance Temple, 1245 S. McAdoo Ave, Bartow. He was charged with soliciting a lewd act.

“It never ceases to amaze me when professionals such as preachers and law enforcement officers are engaged in such outrageous behavior,” Sheriff Grady Judd said in a release. “That type of behavior is not going to be tolerated in our parks. We want to ensure that all of our parks are safe for children and their families to enjoy.”

Complete Article HERE!

Towson priest charged with indecent exposure

A Towson priest has been removed from duty at the Church of the Immaculate Conception after being arrested last week on indecent exposure charges.

According to a police report of the incident, Mark Stewart Bullock, 47, was at Bush River Books & Movies, an Abingdon adult store on the 3900 block of Pulaski Highway, the night of Jan. 16, when two deputies, investigating complaints of indecent exposure, discovered him nude from the waist down in a movie theater inside the shop.

Bullock was sitting on a couch with “his pants completely off,” stated the report, which went on to state that “Bullock was not wearing any underwear and [was] exposing his penis.” He was sitting in a public area where store customers could see him, sheriff’s deputies said.

The deputies instructed Bullock to get dressed and charged him with indecent exposure, a misdemeanor that carries a maximum fine of $1,000 and three years in prison, police said.

Bullock could not be reached Sunday. A court date is set for March 6.

In a letter to parishioners, Rev. Joseph Barr said the Baltimore Archdiocese removed Bullock’s “faculties to function as a priest and initiated an investigation to learn more about the incident” as soon as officials were made aware of the arrest.

Bullock has been ordered to undergo a psychological evaluation, and he is no longer allowed to celebrate Mass publicly or to present himself as a priest, the letter said. The removal from the ministry is indefinite, it added.

“He will no longer reside at the parish rectory and is not permitted to attend or participate in any parish or school functions,” Barr noted in the letter.

“I realize this information may be shocking and painful for you to hear, which I sincerely regret,” Barr wrote. “However, in the interest of transparency and out of an abundance of care for this parish and our community, I wanted to share this news with you directly and ask for your prayers for Fr. Bullock and for our parish.”

Barr could not be reached Sunday, nor could a spokesman for the Baltimore Archdiocese.

The arrest appears to be Bullock’s first, according to online court records. He lists the church’s address, on the 200 block of Ware Ave., as home.

Monica Worrell, a spokeswoman for the Harford County Sheriff’s Office, said deputies routinely look in on adult bookstores to ensure they are complying with the law. This particular shop was drawing more traffic than normal, according to community members, who had voiced concerns at a council meeting, leading the sheriff’s office to investigate.

“Throughout the course of doing that, we found violations of law,” Worrell said. Several arrests were made, she said.

Complete Article HERE!

The end of the mystique

A Philadelphia prosecutor has decisively — and good for him — ended 2000-years of unwarranted deference to the Catholic Church.

Prosecutors on Monday accused the Archdiocese of Philadelphia of being an “unindicted co-conspirator” in a clergy sex abuse case and said the Roman Catholic Church fed predators a steady supply of children.

Everybody willing to know the truth has known the truth for a long time: The Catholic Church has masterminded a global criminal conspiracy centered on the sexual abuse of children for a long time.

What is so striking is that now a state prosecutor is saying so, too, instead of a few hundred cranky bloggers. However naturally this may follow from the past decade of revelations, however easily it may be overlooked in the cataracts of abuse stories, this is a milestone.

And it might be that the pews are at last waking-up, too. Notice this comment at Andrew Sullivan’s blog:

It’s funny that you linked to the story regarding the Catholic Church’s position on the birth control under the health care insurance rules. My wife, daughter and I went to mass on Long Island on Saturday night at 5PM, a mass that tends to be an older crowd though some families are mixed in. Our pastor was the celebrant and his sermon amounted to him yelling for 15 minutes about abortion, the administration’s anti-religious attacks, and contraception. He was particularly upset about the contraception rules – yelling about taking money out of his insurance premiums to subsidy the pill – to the point that he took the Lord’s name in vain as he walked in front of the altar. When he was screaming about the money, the only thought that went through my mind was the amount of money I’ve put into the collection box that was used by the Church to cover up pedophile priest cases.

This is the tipping point. Prosecutors will no longer go after just a single priest, but those who protected him, too. And they’re not going to have to worry any longer about public blowback, either.

Complete Article HERE!

Lawyer: Church official threw monsignor ‘under the bus’ amid child sex accusations in Philly

An indicted Catholic church official is showing signs he won’t take the fall alone for the priest abuse scandal in Philadelphia, with his lawyer saying Wednesday that a successor threw him “under the bus.”

Monsignor William Lynn, 61, is the only official from the Archdiocese of Philadelphia facing trial for allegedly failing to remove accused predators from the priesthood. He served as secretary of clergy from 1992 to 2004.

Defense lawyers argue that Lynn took orders from then-Cardinal Anthony Bevilacqua and other superiors in the church hierarchy.

Prosecutors hope to include dozens of old abuse allegations to show a pattern of conduct at the trial, which is scheduled to start in late March and last several months.

One such case involves a West Chester University chaplain accused in 1994 of taking pictures of students in their underwear.

He next became chaplain of Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, worked with a parish youth group and later admitted taking boys on overnight trips, one to Jamaica, before retiring to the New Jersey shore, prosecutors said.

When a New Jersey diocese asked the Philadelphia archdiocese about the priest, Monsignor Timothy Senior allegedly wrote in a letter that Lynn, his predecessor, did not fully investigate complaints against the priest.

“Maybe that’s an answer to why Monsignor Senior is not here (as a defendant). He obviously doesn’t mind throwing Monsignor Lynn under the bus,” defense lawyer Jeffrey Lindy argued.

Prosecutors call the archdiocese “an unindicted co-conspirator” in the case. A 2005 grand jury report blasted Bevilacqua and his successor, Cardinal Justin Rigali, for their handling of abuse complaints, but they were never charged. Bevilacqua is now 88 and in failing health.

A judge will hear more arguments Monday on whether 27 of the 63 priests described in that grand jury report can be referenced at Lynn’s trial. Prosecutors want to show that Lynn kept them on the job despite knowing of complaints stored in “secret archives” at the archdiocese.

They have detailed the cases over a three-day pretrial hearing this week. The cases include a priest who allegedly pinned loincloths on naked boys playing Jesus in a Passion play, and whipped them, in keeping with the drama; a priest who held what prosecutors called “masturbation camps” at the rectory, having boys strip naked and teaching them to masturbate; and a pastor written up for disobedience for complaining to Bevilacqua about an accused priest being transferred to his parish.

“I truly would love a jury to see how these were handled,” Assistant District Attorney Patrick Blessington said in court. “The more cases they see … the clearer the picture becomes.”

Although some of the abuse dates to the 1960s through 1980s, before Lynn’s time as secretary for clergy, he had access to the secret files. And many of the cases were not reported until years later, during his tenure.

Defense lawyers hope to limit the trial evidence to Lynn’s handling of the priest and ex-priest on trial with him. The Rev. James Brennan, 48, and defrocked priest Edward Avery, 69, are charged with rape. All have denied the charges.

The archdiocese declined to respond to the comments made Wednesday about Monsignor Senior, citing a gag order in the case.

Lynn is on leave from the archdiocese. Jury selection is set to start next month.

Complete Article HERE!

Jacqueline G. Wexler, Ex-Nun Who Took On Church, Dies at 85

Jacqueline G. Wexler, a former Roman Catholic nun who fought the Vatican’s authority and won, then found herself on the other side of the barricades when she became president of Hunter College in 1970, facing student demonstrators storming her office, died on Thursday in Orlando, Fla. She was 85.
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Her death was confirmed by her daughter, Wendy Wexler Branton.

While still a nun and battling the church on many issues, Ms. Wexler drew nationwide attention as a bellwether of the liberal reforms of the Second Vatican Council. She fought successfully against church control of Webster College, the small Catholic women’s college near St. Louis that she headed in the 1960s. She advocated greater participation by women in church leadership and criticized the church’s ban on birth control.

Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, the Catholic televangelist, referred to her as a “Benedict Arnold” in 1967, the year she won autonomy for Webster and simultaneously renounced her vows. Dick Cavett had her as a guest on his late-night TV talk show.

Ms. Wexler’s appointment in 1970 as president of Hunter, one of 11 colleges in the City University of New York system, coincided with a turbulent year in its history. Students, roiled by a combination of antiwar politics and local tensions caused by rising fees and a new university-wide open admissions policy, held demonstrations that shut down the campus repeatedly that spring.

Protesters blocked building entrances and elevators, forcing others to use emergency doors and stairways. Ms. Wexler, refusing at first to call the police, waded into angry crowds to talk, only to be shouted down. Barricaded in her office several times, she finally called the police.

A reporter for The New York Times was in the president’s office one afternoon that April when the phones rang, bringing news that students had blocked elevators and entrances for the second time that month.

“Here we go again,” Ms. Wexler said.

Outside her window, protesters chanted in rhyme, accusing her of colluding with “pigs,” the epithet they used for the police.

Ms. Wexler said that if anything had prepared her for the turmoil, it was having been a lightning rod for condemnation by conservatives in the church.

“Zealotry is the enemy,” she said, adding: “The far right called you every name, from daughter to Beelzebub on, and you learned to take it.”

She was born Jean Grennan on Aug. 2, 1926, the youngest of four children of Edward and Florence Grennan, who owned a small farm in Sterling, Ill. She later took the name Jacqueline in honor of an older brother, Jack, who died of a brain tumor at 21.

After graduating from Webster College, she entered the order of the Sisters of Loretto in 1949, and taught high school math and English in St. Louis and El Paso, Tex. She received her master’s in English from the University of Notre Dame in 1957, and returned to Webster in 1959 as an instructor and administrator.

Sister J., as she was known, was named president of Webster in 1965. She began initiatives aimed at raising educational standards and halting declining enrollment, then common among Catholic women’s colleges.

Sister J. made institutional separation from the church her first priority. “The very nature of higher education is opposed to juridical control by the church,” she said at the time.

She also led the transition to co-education, built new facilities, and started a social-justice program that sent students to work in the poorest neighborhoods of St. Louis, attracting the attention of the Kennedy administration.

She was appointed to the president’s advisory panel on research and development in education and to the original steering committee that developed Project Head Start, the federal program for low-income children.

After several years of well-publicized jousting with Sister J., the Vatican, in 1967, granted the Sisters of Loretto permission to put Webster under the control of an independent, secular board of trustees. It was one of the first Catholic colleges to cut its ties to the church. Asked for his reaction, Archbishop Sheen replied to a reporter: “No comment. I am more interested in Nathan Hales than Benedict Arnolds.”

In 1969, the former Sister Jacqueline married Paul Wexler, a record company executive, and adopted his two children, Wayne and Wendy. Besides Ms. Wexler Branton, Ms. Wexler is survived by her husband and son, as well as four grandchildren, two great-grandchildren and two sisters.

Ms. Wexler was known as a calming presence at Hunter. She led it through the rocky early 1970s and helped make it the city university’s premier center for health care education. Before stepping down in 1979, she brought Bellevue Hospital’s nursing school into the college, expanded health care training, raised money to start a gerontology program in the school of social work and inaugurated a women’s studies program.

From 1982 until 1990, she was president of the National Conference of Christians and Jews.

After receiving an honorary degree from her alma mater, now Webster University, in 2007, Ms. Wexler, then 81, was given a tour of the campus by the president accompanied by a reporter for The St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

Many buildings had been added since she left. She was eager to see them all, the newspaper said, and seemed to grow impatient when the elevator in one building was slow to arrive.

Whether out of eagerness or habit forged in the crucible of 1970, Ms. Wexler proceeded to the stairs.

“Let’s walk,” she said. “I wore comfortable shoes.”

Complete Article HERE!