Sexual abuse by prominent Catholic figure

— Superior did not make police report as victims insisted on keeping matters private

The Catholic Church also said that it had asked the Attorney General’s Chambers to partially lift the gag order on the case in relation to the identity of the offender, but AGC said it was unable to accede to the request.

By Gabrielle Andres

SINGAPORE: The two teenage boys who were sexually abused by a prominent member of the local Catholic community “refused” to make police reports after the incidents came to light in 2009, the Catholic Religious Order said in a statement on Sunday (Jun 5).

The boys were repeatedly told that they could make a police report and would be accompanied to the police station to do so, but they were insistent in wanting to keep the matter private.

As such, the superior of the Catholic Order, who initiated investigations on the case, did not make a police report at the time “out of respect for the stated wishes and requested privacy of the victims”.

“To our knowledge, there are no other victims and the offender confirmed this,” the Catholic Order said.

These details were revealed in a statement that was published on the website of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore on Sunday.

The offender was sentenced to five years’ jail last month, after being convicted of committing sexual offences against the boys between 2005 and 2007.

The Singaporean man, a member of a Catholic Order, had taken a vow of celibacy and has never married, according to court documents.

He cannot be named due to detailed gag orders imposed by the court, which prohibit the publication of his name, designation, appointment and a school he was linked to.

The Archdiocese also said on Sunday that it sought a partial lift of the gag order “for greater accountability and transparency”, but that the request was denied by the Attorney-General’s Chambers (AGC).


The Archdiocese said it released the statement by the Religious Order in the interests of providing “as much information as possible, within the boundaries of the gag order” imposed on the case.

Religious Orders within the Roman Catholic Church are separately constituted and are governed by their own judicial proceedings and administration of law.

In its statement, the Order said that its local leader first learned of the incidents when one of the victims confided in him in 2009, after both had already left the school.

An investigation was immediately initiated by the superior of the Order for Singapore. During the investigations, only the local leader and superior were involved.

“The victims were interviewed, and provided with counselling support,” the Order said.

After they decided against making a police report, the superior focused on what to do with the offender, who was “remorseful and expressed willingness to accept all consequences”.

“The superior immediately removed the offender from his position and prevented him from returning to the school premises so as to ensure that there would be no further contact with the victims or minors,” it said.

“He sent the offender for treatment, therapy and rehabilitation beginning with an intensive six-month programme in the United States, paid for by the Religious Order.”

CNA has asked the Catholic Church whether any action has been taken by the church against the superior for not making a police report.

Following the treatment, the Religious Order abided by the recommendations of the treatment centre, including instructions not to place the offender in any setting that involves working with minors, it said.

“Hence, the offender had to be posted to different country, where he could undertake work that did not involve minors,” the Order said.

“The local religious superiors there were informed of his background and of the key restrictions of his recovery programme.

“The superior of the Order for Singapore also continued monitoring the offender in his subsequent posting, checking on his adherence to the restrictions imposed by the recovery programme and his commitment to continued therapy and recovery.”

In March 2020, the offender came back to Singapore to renew his missionary visa, which was expiring. However, he was unable to return overseas due to the COVID-19 pandemic, according to previous court documents.

In late 2020, the offender’s history was brought to the attention of the board of the school to which he was linked.

The Religious Order informed the Archbishop thereafter in October 2020, and the Archbishop gave instructions that the matter be reported to the police.

Following an internal inquiry, the board and the Order decided that a police report had to be made and the chairman of the board lodged one on May 10, 2021.

The Order said it has “fully cooperated with the authorities in their investigation”.

“The Religious Order is deeply dismayed, ashamed and sorry for the incidents, and remains committed to supporting the victims,” it said.

“The Religious Order is committed to a zero tolerance for such behaviour.

“It has a safeguarding protocol with guidelines to prevent similar incidents. The protocol is reviewed regularly to ensure awareness and adherence. The protocol also states that all such incidents must be immediately reported to the civil authorities and the Archbishop of Singapore.”


In a separate statement accompanying the Religious Order statement, the Archdiocese said it had requested for the AGC to partially lift the gag order on the case, in relation to the identity of the offender, the name of the Order, and details of the offender’s subsequent treatment and postings.

“The AGC informed that they had carefully considered our request but were unable to accede to it,” the Archdiocese said.

“The Church takes very seriously the provision of a safe environment, especially where children and young persons are present.”

The AGC said on Monday that it did not apply to lift or vary the gag order on the identity of the offender, as doing so would likely lead to the identification of the victims.

“It was not in any way sought to protect the interests of the accused person, or of the Catholic Order involved,” the AGC said in response to CNA’s queries.

It added that its “paramount interest was, and remains, the protection of victims”.

The Archdiocese noted that it regularly reviews the protocols for the protection of the young through the Professional Standards Office.

“Our Catholic schools and their governing boards/school management committees already adhere to MOE protocols and Singapore laws on reporting incidents involving sexual abuse of minors,” it said.

“The Religious Orders and all religious sponsoring authorities for Catholic schools have also been reminded of their obligation to report immediately to the police once they become aware of incidents involving alleged offences against minors or vulnerable persons. They are also to keep the Archbishop of the Catholic Church informed.

“The Church will not tolerate behaviour by clergy or religious that will put others at risk,” it added.

Complete Article HERE!

AP-NORC poll details rift between lay Catholics and bishops

FILE – Migrants watching Pope Francis’ Mass in Juarez, Mexico, from a levee along the banks of the Rio Grande in El Paso, Texas, take part in Communion, Wednesday, Feb. 17, 2016. According to a poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research conducted in mid-May 2022, only 31% of lay Catholics agree that politicians supporting abortion rights should be denied Communion, while 66% say they be allowed access to the sacrament.

By David Crary 

The hardline stances of many conservative Catholic bishops in the U.S. are not shared by a majority of lay Catholics. Most of them say abortion should be legal, favor greater inclusion of LGBT people, and oppose the denial of Communion for politicians who support abortion rights, according to a new poll from The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research.

The poll, conducted in mid-May, shows a clear gap between the prevalent views of American Catholics, and some recent high-profile actions taken by the church’s leaders.

For example, leaders of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops recently called on Catholics nationwide to pray for the U.S. Supreme Court to end the constitutional right to abortion by reversing its 1973 Roe v. Wade decision. According to the new poll, 63% of Catholic adults say abortion should be legal in all or most cases, and 68% say Roe should be left as is.

On May 20, the archbishop of San Francisco, Salvatore Cordileone, announced that he will no longer allow U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to receive Communion because of her support for abortion rights.

According to the poll, only 31% of lay Catholics agree that politicians supporting abortion rights should be denied Communion, while 66% say they should be allowed access to the sacrament.

An even larger majority – 77% — said that Catholics who identify as LGBT should be allowed to receive Communion. That contrasts sharply with a policy issued by the Diocese of Marquette, which encompasses Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, saying pastors should deny Communion to transgender, gay and nonbinary Catholics “unless the person has repented.”

Natalia Imperatori-Lee, a professor of religious studies at Manhattan College, said the rift between rank-and-file Catholics and the bishops “reveals a breakdown in communication and trust — shepherds who are far removed from the sheep.”

“This is a precarious time for the U.S. Catholic church,” she added in an email. “U.S. Catholics are, on the whole, accustomed to living and working in a pluralistic society and this poll reinforces the notion that they want the public square to remain pluralistic, free from coercion, and oriented toward care for the vulnerable populations among us.”

The Rev. Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, said the poll results didn’t surprise him, and underscored a need for anti-abortion clergy and activists to redouble efforts to change people’s positions.

“For us working on pro-life issues, these kinds of polls are like a summons,” he said. “You’ve got to be doing your work — maybe you’ve got to do it better.”

As for conservative bishops, “their awareness of the gaps that the polling reveals is precisely one of the reasons they feel the need to speak up,″ Pavone said. “They are striving to exercise the role outlined for them in Scripture, namely, to patiently and persistently teach the faith, whether convenient or inconvenient, to clear up confusion.”

Beyond the bishops/laity rift, the poll highlighted other challenges facing the church, which is the largest denomination in the U.S.

For example, 68% of Catholics reported attending religious services once a month or less. Compared to five years ago, 37% said they were now attending less often; 14% said they were attending more often.

Over that five-year span, 26% percent of Catholics said their opinion of the Catholic church had worsened, while 17% said their opinion had improved. Most said their opinion hadn’t changed.

More than two-thirds of U.S. Catholics disagree with church policies that bar women from becoming priests. And 65% say the church should allow openly gay men to be ordained.

The poll was conducted just after the leak of a draft Supreme Court majority opinion that would strike down Roe v. Wade. The views of U.S. Catholics, as expressed in the poll, were in line with the overall American public, both in regard to supporting abortion’s legality and preserving Roe.

However, there were sharp differences among major religious groupings. While 63% of Catholics said abortion should be legal in all or most cases, that stance was held by 74% of mainline Protestants and only 25% of evangelical Protestants.

Sharon Barnes of Dallas, who converted to Catholicism as a young adult, appreciates the centuries-old consistency of Catholic doctrine. Yet she differs from the church on some major social issues, including abortion.

“It’s a woman’s right to decide,” said Barnes, 65. “It’s something that you have to kind of reconcile yourself, and it’s between you and God.”

Pedro Gomez, a 55-year-old border patrol agent in Rio Rico, Arizona, is a lifelong Catholic who prays every night and attends church regularly. He understands the need for abortion in cases of rape, incest or saving the life of a mother, but he said he considers the procedure to be the killing of a child.

Gomez was surprised that most U.S. Catholics support some degree of abortion rights.

“There’s a lot of gray area now that was never there in my upbringing,” he said. “Maybe they’re watering down Catholicism … Now people are being able to make up their own rules.”

Ed Keeley, a 62-year-old public school teacher in Houston, also was raised Catholic. He described abortion as “a hard subject,” saying he believes in the sanctity of life but that abortion should be allowed in specific cases, including rape or incest

He finds it “ridiculous” that a priest would deny Communion to someone because of their views on abortion or politics generally.

Last year, some conservative bishops, including Cordileone, argued publicly that President Joe Biden — a lifelong Catholic — should not receive Communion because of his support for abortion rights. However, Pope Francis conveyed his opposition to such a stance, saying Communion “is not a prize for the perfect.”

Cordileone’s recent denial of Communion for Pelosi was supported by several of his clerical colleagues, including the archbishops of Denver, Oklahoma City, Portland, Oregon, and Kansas City, Kansas. However, Archbishop Michael Jackels of Dubuque, Iowa, issued a statement describing the action as “misguided.”

“As Jesus said, it’s the sick people who need a doctor, not the healthy, and he gave us the Eucharist as a healing remedy,” Jackels said. “Don’t deny the people who need the medicine.”

He also contended that abortion was not the only critical “life issue” facing the church.

“Protecting the earth, our common home, or making food, water, shelter, education and health care accessible, or defense against gun violence… these are life issues too,” he said. “To be consistent, to repair the scandal of Catholics being indifferent or opposed to all those other life issues, they would have to be denied Holy Communion as well.”

John Gehring, Catholic program director at the Washington-based clergy network Faith in Public Life, said some conservative bishops engage in the culture wars “in ways that damage their already diminished relevance and credibility.”

“Most Catholics are fed up with bishops who want to weaponize Communion in a hypocritical, single-issue campaign against pro-choice politicians, especially when we see Pope Francis offering a better road map,” said Gehring

The AP-NORC poll of 1,172 adults, including 358 Catholics, was conducted May 12-16 using a sample drawn from NORC’s probability-based AmeriSpeak Panel, which is designed to be representative of the U.S. population. The margin of sampling error for all respondents is plus or minus 4.0 percentage points, and for Catholics is plus or minus 7.4 percentage points.

Complete Article HERE!

Mixed Signals In Leap Of American Bishop Robert McElroy

San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy.

By Terry Mattingly

Two years before long-standing rumors about Cardinal Theodore McCarrick leapt into headlines worldwide, America’s most outspoken activist on clergy sexual abuse, Richard Sipe, met with his local bishop — San Diego Bishop Robert McElroy.

“It was clear to me during our last meeting in your office, although cordial, that you had no interest in any further personal contact,” wrote Sipe, a former Benedictine priest who then worked for the Seton Psychiatric Institute in Baltimore. While church officials asked him to report to McElroy, Sipe continued, “your office made it clear that you have no time in your schedule either now or ‘in the foreseeable future’ to have the meeting that they suggested.”

Sipe’s 2016 letter to the San Diego bishop was later posted online and is frequently cited as an example of the bishop ignoring warnings about the now-defrocked McCarrick, who often boasted about his clout as a Vatican kingmaker. Now it will receive more attention because Pope Francis has named McElroy to the Sacred College of Cardinals. This promotes the San Diego bishop over several prominent archbishops — including Los Angeles Archbishop Jose Gomez, who leads America’s largest Catholic archdiocese and is president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

In his hand-delivered report, Sipe told McElroy that his ongoing research indicated that 6% of American priests were guilty of sex with minors. Meanwhile, a “systemic” trend was clear: “At any one time no more than 50% of priests are practicing celibacy.”

As for the powerful McCarrick, Sipe noted, “I have interviewed twelve seminarians and priests who attest to propositions, harassment, or sex with McCarrick, who has stated, ‘I do not like to sleep alone.’”

Debates about McElroy’s elevation have focused on other divisive issues in Catholic life, although decades of sexual abuse crimes loom in the background. He has, for example, supported the ordination of women to the diaconate, allowing them to preach, perform weddings and serve — one step from the priesthood — at Catholic altars.

McElroy has openly clashed with American bishops anxious to address “Eucharistic coherence” as prominent Catholics, especially President Joe Biden and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, support — with words and deeds — abortion and LGBTQ rights.

It was McElroy who told an online 2021 Georgetown University forum, “I do not see how depriving the president or other political leaders of Eucharist based on their public policy stance can be interpreted in our society as anything other than the weaponization of Eucharist and an effort not to convince people by argument and by dialogue and by reason, but, rather, to pummel them into submission on the issue.”

In that context, McElroy’s elevation sends a “strong message to the US hierarchy,” tweeted Christopher Lamb, Vatican correspondent for The Tablet. And it’s important, he added, that McElroy has “called for a more welcoming stance to LGBT Catholics saying, ‘what we need to project in the life of the church is ‘You are part of us and we are part of you.’”

Papal advisor Antonio Spadaro also said giving McElroy a red hat was “a strong and clear message for the Church in the United States,” noted J.D. Flynn of The Pillar. Catholics will now ponder the meaning of that message from Rome.

In terms of strategy on abortion, in 2019 McElroy told U.S. bishops that their efforts to focus on “abortion as a preeminent priority — the killing of nearly a million unborn children each year — was ‘discordant with the pope’s teaching, if not inconsistent,’” noted Flynn. On this and other divisive issues, the “cardinal-elect is not aligned with most American bishops … and has seemed entirely undisturbed by that.”

As a man of the left, Sipe agreed with McElroy on many, if not most, issues in modern Catholicism. However, he confronted his bishop because he believed the sexual abuse crisis is an issue that transcends left-right arguments.

Thus, after 12 pages of text and footnotes, Sipe concluded: “I have tried to help the Church understand and heal the wounds of sexual abuse by clergy. My services have not been welcomed.

“My appeal to you has been for pastoral attention to victims of abuse and the long term consequences of that violation. This includes the effects of suicidal attempts. Only a bishop can minister to these wounds.”

Complete Article HERE!