The Oblates and the geographic solution to clergy sexual abuse

— Despite the failures of the geographical solution to clergy sexual abuse, Catholic religious orders as the Oblates have a long record of using it.

Americae sive novi orbis, nova descriptio, 1573.

By Rodolfo Soriano-Núñez

The Oblates have used the “geographical solution” before. One of their predator priests spent time in Mexico back in the Sixties.

Religion and Public Life: Argentina, Canada, France, Mexico, Paraguay, and the United States are among the countries where the Oblates have on the basis of the “geographic solution” to clergy sexual abuse.

Two weeks ago, Los Angeles Press published a report on the arrival of a Paraguayan Roman Catholic priest, a member of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate religious order, from his native country to Mexico.

At the time of the report, I’ve been in Mexico for at least six months. He’s got a low profile. There is no record of him participating as a priest in public functions carried out by the order.

After arriving to Mexico, Juan Rafael Fleitas López performed as an instructor at the schools where the Oblates train their so-called scholastics, which is how Catholic religious orders such as the Oblates call what other would be identified as seminarians: young students who aspire to become full members of the order and, in some cases, to become priests.

He was, in that regard, a pristine example of the so-called .geographic solution, which is an analyst how the forty-years-old clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church call the decision by some orders and even some diocesan bishops to move around priests with accusations of sexual abuse from one diocese to and another, if allowed, from one country to another.

One of the many examples of the “geographical solution” is, in Mexico and the United States, the way in which Norberto Rivera Carrera and Roger Michael Mahony, moved around from one country to the other and back again, Nicolas Aguilar Rivera, who at some point was point aptly called by the media in the native state of Puebla – a state-wide shame.

Norberto Rivera first sent Nicolas Aguilar Rivera (no family relationship with the Cardinal) from Tehuacán, 260 kilometers or 160 miles East of Mexico City, in the state of Puebla, to Los Angeles, California, during his first stint as bishop. Roger Mahony was, at the time, the almighty cardinal and archbishop of the largest Catholic diocese in the United States, with more than three million souls under his care.

 
Tehuacán, Puebla, East of Mexico City.

Aguilar Rivera was some sort of early revelation of the depth of the clergy sexual abuse crisis in Mexico back in the late 1980s, when this issue was kept concealed by the Roman Catholic hierarchy, and both the Mexican government and media.

Since I was able to move around from Tehuacán, a mid-size metro area in the Central state of Puebla, Mexico, to Los Angeles, California, and then back to Mexico, Aguilar is one of the most notable super-predators in the Mexican Catholic Church. Far from his crimes, both Norberto Rivera and Roger Mahony, provided the perfect settings and cover up for his actions.

The Archdiocese of Los Angeles paid almost $13 million as compensation. Although only Aguilars victims in that district of the U.S. Catholic Church received the monies.

Victims for the hundreds

There is no official information as if some payments were made by the Mexican dioceses of Tehuacán, Puebla, or Mexico City, which had, at some point in time competence over Aguilars performance as a priest in Mexico, although he is known that some of his received some of his victims some sort of compensation as a way to prevent the scandal brought by the fact that Cardinal Rivera was called to testify in California, as they could be seen in this transcript of his declaration from 2007.

Back in 2007, U.S. and Mexican media estimated Aguilars victims as at least ninety minors. I’ve repeatedly challenged that number, but there’s no reason to believe his word, since he was able to move around between both countries.

In Mexico, he was able to move officially between at two least Catholic dioceses: Tehuacán and Mexico City, although the last reports about his active life, from the mid to late aughts, about duties performing as a priest in the State of Mexico, the Mexican state surrounding Mexico City, which has had the largest number of separate dioces since the early 1990s.

 
Norberto Rivera Carrera, archbishop emeritus of Mexico City and Mario Delgado, current leader of the ruling party Morena in Mexico and alumn of NXIVM, 2012.

Because of the .geographical solution, Aguilar was able to find new unsuspecting victims, every time his bosses in the Catholic hierarchy decided the spin of the wheel of fortune, giving him a new chance as even priest if he was not ever appointed as pastor of a parish after Mahony received him with a temporary appointment back in 1987.

It was only in 2009, more than 20 years after the first accusations against Aguilar emerged, that Pope Benedict XVI expelled him from the priesthood. Only then, the Mexican Catholic bishops publicly admitted that Aguilar was a predator sex. Although there was no official admission as to the number of his victims in either Mexico or the United States, Mexican newsmagazine Proceso estimated them in .more than a hundred minors.

And even if apologies have been issued by the three reigning Popes as to the extent and consequences of clergy sexual abuse, and many leaders of the Catholic Church mimic the reigning Pope-s rhetoric on the issue, at a global scale, the fact: there is an impulse to move priests with accusations of different types of sexual misconduct as a way to give them a second, third, or fourth chance in the exercise of the priesthood, with little or not for the potential consideration of risk of moving.

The fact that I rushed to publish my findings as to the potential destination of Juan Rafael Fleitas López as an associate priest in the parish of St. Mary Magdalene in Tequisistlán, Oaxaca, was to prevent new abuses.

It was necessary since it is no record of a current active interest of the Mexican Catholic hierarchy on addressing the issue, as it proved by the fact that less than half the Mexican dioceses have set up a commission to prevent abuses, as it proved last week on these pages.

Even more, since there is no indication that the current Mexican federal government will pursue the accusations made by survivors, their friends, and advocates back in 2017.

Changing of the guard

In that regard, my sources on the issue tell me that Fleitass appointment fell to Tequisistlán fell apart, although he spent time there in March, when other parishes managed by the Oblate order had changes of the pastors serving them. The most recent of such changes at the diocese of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, was March 4th.

The changing of the guard happened at San Pedro Martir Quiechapa, as told by the entry at the Oblates official Facebook account that appears immediately after this paragraph or here.

After that, on March 23rd, the Oblates had a change in management at the parish of Christ Our Lord and Savior, at the diocese of Iztapalapa in Eastern Mexico City, as told by this entry from the same official Facebook reported immediately after this paragraph.

So, this is the season when the Oblates shuffle their priests from one parish or work to another. This is a healthy practice that forces priests and other religious personnel to confront new challenges and figure out new ways to do their work. It is not these regular changes that constitutes the practice of the .geographic solution to the issue of clergy sexual abuse.

Moreover, the Oblates are not new at using the .geographical solution to move around the priests and religious brothers who have faced accusations of sexual abuse. There is a long record of that order moving around priests and religious brothers from one of their provinces to another, to either cover up for the sexual abuse already perpetrated by some of them or as some sort of preventative measure, when one higher figures out that something is wrong with one of their subordinates in one of their provinces.

Even if Bishop is not seen as an accurate representation of whatever has happened as far as the clergy sexual abuse crisis in the Catholic Church on a global scale, since it has been a clear, even if undesired bias for the information coming from the English-speaking Catholic world, in their pages it is possible to find information that accurately depicts how, at least in the English- andspeaking Spanish-speaking Catholic worlds, the .geographical solution has been used by the Oblates and many other Catholic religious orders to move around priests with accusations of sexual misconduct.

More than Sixty Oblates

In that regard, Bishop Accountability has identified in one of its pages a minimum of 59 Oblates priests accused of clergy sexual abuse in U.S. and Canadian dioceses. On the top of that, in the Spanish-speaking pages of the same website there is information about one more Oblate, Luis Sabarre, originally from the Philippines but acting as a priest in the archdiocese of Mendoza, Argentina.

Also, there is information about at least two other members of this religious order, Gustavo Ovelar and Francisco Bareiro. The story linked above, the first of this series on the Oblates, mentions Bareiro and the impact of the accusations on him have. Both Ovelar and Bareiro are Argentine nationals. The Paraguayan newspaper La Nación described them back in 2016 as they are hiding out in Paraguay. That newspaper mentioned the fact that they were accused in 2014 of sexual assault.

A second Spanish-speaking page referenced at Bishop Accountability details how up until 2020, the Oblates kept their silence regarding the whereabouts of Ovelar and Bareiro.

What is worse. The English-speaking database of Bishop Accountability added data recently about the abuse perpetrated by French Oblates Edouard Meillieur and Johannes Rivoire in French and English-speaking missions in Canada going all the way back to the 1950s. Both are also representatives of the “geographical solution” as practiced by the Oblates.

 
In the green circle, Paraguayan Oblate priest Juan Rafael Fleitas López at a ceremony in Paraguay.

It is noticeable that the statement issued by the Canadian province of the Oblates seems to be aware of the need to use the right words when talking about the pain brought by members of the order to their victims and the communities they were supposed to be serving.

The statement issued by the leader of the Oblates in Canada, Father Ken Thorson, reads “the Oblates” recognize the tragic legacy of clergy abuse and are sincerely committed to support the Inuit Peoples who advocate for truth, justice, healing and reconciliation.

How could it be that if the Canadian Oblates seem to be aware of the “tragic” consequences of the .geographic solution, used by the French and Canadian provinces of that order back in the 20th century, the Mexican and Paraguayan leaders of the same orders are so willing to put the Mexican faithful at risk of being abused by Juan Rafael Fleitas López?

That is the saddest aspect of the institutional neuroses affecting the Catholic Church nowadays.

Predator Priest

What is worse, in the English-speaking database available at Bishop Accountability, it is possible to find information about one predator priest moving from the United States to the very same diocese of Tehuantepec, Oaxaca, where the leaders of the province of the Mexican province tried to reinstate Fleitas López as they preside with the blessing of bishop Crispín Ojeda Márquez, the former auxiliary and none other than Cardinal Norberto Rivera Carrera.

I used the term “predator priest” knowingly and accurately. Bishop Accountability renders a short bio of Donald L. Stavinoha as he was killed back in 2007 but convicted in 1988, although the Texas authorities released him in 1991.

It is not clear if he assaulted or abused somebody at Tehuantepec, Mexico. We know, through a story published back in 1992 by Texan newspaper The Houston Chronicle, that I spent some time there between the late 1960s and early 1970s, when Jose de Jesús Clemente Alba Palacios was the bishop of Tehuantepec.

Oddly enough, Alba Palacios resigned his position as bishop of Tehuantepec back in 1970, when he was only 60 years old. Pope Paul VI appointed him auxiliary of the Archdiocese of Oaxaca, a strange move for a Roman Catholic bishop. Was it because of them then were issues related to abuse in Tehuantepec? God only knows.

As I am typing this story there is no official news about the destination of Juan Rafael Fleitas López. I know his appointment at Tequisistlán, diocese of Tehuantepec, fell apart, but there is no warranty that the leaders of the Oblate order in Mexico will not try to send him to any of his other parishes.

The only thing I know, for sure, is that Fleitas Lopez will not go back to be a priest at parish the Oblates have in Tijuana, Baja California. Although parish is in Mexico, it is not for the Mexican Oblates to decide who goes there. It is the Oblates of the United States who manages that parish as a “mission territory” in Mexico (see here and here too).

If Fleitas Lopez did something, it would be the Oblates in the United States, and under the laws of the United States would be liable. How lucky is the Mexican Catholic faithful of Tijuana, protected by U.S. Laws…

Complete Article HERE!

Pope Defrocks Bishop Who Admitted Sexually Abusing Nephew

— Belgian bishop Roger Vangheluwe admitted 14 years ago that he sexually abused his nephew but faced no Vatican punishment.

Bishop Roger Vangheluwe

By NICOLE WINFIELD

Pope Francis on Thursday defrocked a notorious Belgian bishop who admitted 14 years ago that he sexually abused his nephew but faced no Vatican punishment.

The case of Roger Vangheluwe, the emeritus bishop of Brugge, long ago became a symbol of the Catholic Church’s hypocrisy and dysfunction in dealing with cases of abuse. Not only was he allowed to quietly retire after the scandal broke in 2010, but the head of the Belgian church at the time, Cardinal Godfried Danneels, was caught on tape asking one of his victims to keep his abuse secret until the bishop left office.

The Vatican announcement that Francis had laicized Vangheluwe came a few months before the pope is due to visit Belgium, where the case would have been an unwelcome and problematic distraction.

Vangheluwe, 87, shot to international infamy in 2010 amid disclosures he had sexually abused his young nephew for over a dozen years when he was a priest and later a bishop. He later admitted he also abused a second nephew. All along, he made light of his crimes, describing his abuse as “a little game” that didn’t involve “rough sex.”

He was allowed to retire two years shy of the normal retirement age, but faced no further punishment. It was evidence of the Holy See’s general refusal at the time to sanction Catholic bishops even for admitted sex crimes.

The Vatican embassy in Belgium said in a statement Thursday that in recent months “grave new elements” had been reported to the Holy See’s sex abuse office that justified reopening the case.

It didn’t say what new information had been received. In recent months Belgium’s own bishops have grown increasingly public in their stated outrage at the Vatican’s refusal to take action against Vangheluwe.

In September, Antwerp Bishop Johan Bonny told Belgian broadcaster VRT that the Belgian bishops had asked the Vatican for years, in writing and in person, to defrock Vangheluwe but got no response.

In its statement, the Vatican embassy said that after Vangheluwe’s defense was heard, the Dicastery for the Doctrine of the Faith presented the case to Francis on March 8. Three days later, it said, Francis decided to accept the recommendation that Vangheluwe be laicized. It is the harshest punishment that the Vatican can hand down, but it just means that Vangheluwe is now a layman and cannot present himself as a priest.

He asked to be allowed to live in a retreat house “without any contact with the world” to dedicate himself to prayer and penitence, the statement said.

Lieve Halsberghe, a Belgian advocate for abuse survivors, said the belated laicization brought no justice to Vangheluwe’s victims and was a mere “PR stunt” ahead of Francis’ visit later this year to Leuven, where the pope is to commemorate the 600th anniversary of Belgium’s Catholic university.

“Images of child sexual abuse were found in 2011 on the man’s computer and charges were never laid, because Vangheluwe is protected in high places,” Halsberghe told The Associated Press. “The gesture of the Vatican today, after 14 years of charades with letters to and from the Vatican, is no more than a PR stunt of the Vatican, pressured by the Belgian bishops.”

The Vangheluwe scandal proved a watershed moment for the overwhelmingly Roman Catholic nation of 11.5 million, though he was never prosecuted criminally in Belgium because his actions exceeded the statute of limitations.

In the wake of the revelations, a special commission produced a report with harrowing accounts of Catholic clergy molesting hundreds of victims, some as young as two years old, and said the abuse led to at least 13 suicides. The head of the commission said that, in reality, the abuse was even worse but many victims could still not bring themselves to talk.

The scandal is by no means over: Belgium’s parliament is currently holding hearings on abuse, and just this week protesters demonstrated outside the French Catholic community where Vangheluwe went to live after he retired.

“Justice kneels before the church,” read a sign one of the protesters held.

The Vangheluwe scandal isn’t the only one that has rocked the Belgian church and laid bare its wretched legacy of abuse.

In 2019, the Vatican’s Caritas charity admitted that it knew for two years of pedophilia concerns about the Belgian Salesian priest, Luk Delft, who ran its operations in the Central African Republic. But Caritas only removed Delft after CNN began investigating. It turns out, Delft had been convicted of child sexual abuse and of possession of child pornography in 2012 by a Belgian court, but the Salesians moved him to Bangui, where CNN said it found at least two more victims.

Delft was laicized and formally ousted from the Salesian order on Sept. 9, 2021, a decision that was reported to Francis on April 9, 2022, Archbishop Franco Coppola, the Vatican ambassador to Belgium, said in an email Thursday to AP.

Francis in May 2022 named Delft’s former Salesian superior, the retired bishop of Ghent, Luc Van Looy, a cardinal — an honor Van Looy subsequently declined because of his poor record dealing with abuse. Van Looy was in charge of the Ghent diocese when Delft was convicted by the Ghent court of abuse in 2012.

In Nigeria, A Clergy Rape Survivor Turns Pain Into A Source Of Support For Others

Joshua Love was recently paid $15,000 by a Catholic religious order to keep quiet about his claim that two Franciscan Friars abused him as a child. Now he’s going public and talking about how he’s tried to heal.

By Chinonso Kenneth

LAGOS, Nigeria — Statistics compiled by Amnesty International in 2021 show that there is a culture of stigmatization and victim-blaming towards rape survivors. The result is a large percentage of rape and sexual assaults go unreported in Nigeria.

Paul Akinyemi Thomson was far more than a statistic. It was a reality he lived every day for 21 years. Born in 1986, Thomson told Religion Unplugged that his mother was sexually molested by the Reverend Kolawole Olaiya Thomson of a Cherubim and Seraphim church starting from age 12.

Thomson said his mother had to go live with the late reverend from a young age because her parents could no longer raise her. It was at the reverend’s home that Thomson’s mother conceived him and his elder sister after being raped multiple times.

“This man of God already had like 10 wives, very respected in the community. … Peopled loved him because he does miracles and all that,” Thomson said. “My mother was complaining to people that this man of God molested her but nobody listened to her because in Nigeria they blame the victim first. The molestation by the pastor continued until she got pregnant at age 17 and had my big sister, they had me three years later.”

Thomson and his sister continued to be abused by his father and other fmaily members, including being subjected to curses, voodoo and constantly called “omo eru,” a slur in the Yoruba language meaning “slave.”

“I was sexually molested too and even this year they were still calling I and my sister slaves,” he added. “In 1998, my dad used Deuteronomy 28 to curse me. Deuteronomy 28 is the worse chapter in the Bible, and the only chapter in the Bible, filled with curses, generational curses and my dad was using it to curse and swear at me.”

A 2021 study by the United Nations Population Fund found that 28% of Nigerian women between the ages of 25-29 have experienced some form of physical violence since age 15. The prevalence of sexual violence against women in Nigeria is further boosted by victim blaming, which has flourished in Nigeria as a prevailing attitude. This has the concomitant effect of discouraging victims from seeking justice, thus allowing abusers to continue with impunity.

“I’m just trying to rewrite what’s wrong … because everybody blamed my mom then and I can imagine, why are you blaming a 12-year-old girl? She is just 12! The man doing this is 50 years old,” Thomson said.

In 2014, Thomson started a nonprofit organization named after his mother – Comfort Empowerment and Advocacy Foundation (CEAF) — to raise awareness about sexual assault, domestic violence and child marriages and to also provide free shelter and psychotherapy support to survivors.

Based in Lagos, CEAF offers victims access to free psychological counselling and therapy. CEAF also operate an online portal through which individuals can report abuse for CEAF staff to follow up with civil authorities.

CEAF has assisted over nine people since its founding with free legal services, psychotherapy support and financial grants. Currently, CEAF’s safe shelter, meant to house survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and child marriage, is 90 percent complete, Thomson said.

One of such beneficiaries is Nkiruka Onyebuchi, 29, who told Religion Unplugged she was trapped in an abusive relationship for six years until CEAF intervened and gave her the help she desperately needed.

“I was in my early 20s when we met and started living together because we were to get married but the abuse was a lot and I could not really tell anybody including my parents because I never forgot what my mother always said to me ‘if you want to stay in a marriage, you need to have patience’ so I thought it meant I had to be patient with everything,’” Onyebuchi said.

She eventually got pregnant, which led to an increase in the physical and mental abuse she had endured.

“I actually thought the beating was going to stop when I was pregnant, but it got worse until I had the baby but the baby died,” Onyebuchi said. “He usually says the reason he beats me is because I’m stubborn and I believed him.”

In January 2023, Onyebuchi’s friend introduced her to CEAF. As a result, Onyebuchi’s boyfriend was arrested by the police and made to sign an undertaking not to physically abuse her again.

Onyebuchi also received financial help to move out of her house and lease her own place, receive counseling and help with finding a job.

“If I didn’t have the therapy sessions, I would not be having this interview with you because I had insecurity issues,” she said. “I was very defensive and aggressive then. The counseling sessions really helped at least 60 percent. I still talk to my therapist from time to time.”

A major challenge for CEAF has been funding and finding partnership. Thomson has been funding CEAF out of his pocket and has not had much success partnering with others, he said, including the Lagos’ Domestic and Sexual Violence Agency.

“Since I started CEAF, nobody has actually contributed any money, so all of the money I’ve made has been invested into CEAF,” he said. “I’m doing this because of my mom. This is personal to me and this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.”

Complete Article HERE!

Dismay as Louisiana lookback law for child sexual abuse victims struck down

— Court rules 4-3 to overturn law that had allowed victims to file civil suits over sexual abuse that took place decades ago

By David Hammer

In a split ruling that has major implications for hundreds of child sexual abuse victims, the Louisiana state supreme court has struck down a law that had allowed victims to file civil lawsuits over molestation that happened decades ago.

Child molestation victims and their advocates were devastated by the 4-3 ruling from a court whose members are elected.

Lawyers Richard Trahant, Soren Giselson and John Denenea, who represented the plaintiffs in the case at the center of Friday’s ruling, said: “Today, four of the seven … justices overruled a law passed by a unanimous Louisiana legislature, signed by then governor [John Bel] Edwards, supported by then attorney general and current governor Jeff Landry and current attorney general Liz Murrill. That’s nearly 200 elected officials who viewed this law as being constitutional.

“Four elected officials just obliterated that. They cannot fathom the excruciating pain this decision has heaped upon adults who were raped as children and already suffer a life sentence.”

Richard Windmann, president of Survivors of Childhood Sex Abuse, said: “Once more the victims and survivors of childhood sex abuse have been denied justice. The institutionalized, systematic and wholesale rape of our children by these organizations is self-evident.”

Windmann pledged to take the case to the US supreme court if necessary, calling it “the final stop to see if we, as human beings, are going to let these atrocities stand and continue to happen”.

Kathryn Robb of ChildUSA, an advocacy group that helped pass lookback or revival windows across the country, said Friday’s ruling meant “predators and institutions that protect predators are going to continue with their bad practices”.

“They’re going to continue with their coverup,” Robb said. “They’re going to continue with putting children in harm’s way. And so I’m saddened. I’m saddened by this decision.”

Such laws were upheld as constitutional in 24 states and the District of Columbia. Louisiana now joins Utah as the only states to find them unconstitutional, Robb said.

Louisiana’s supreme court heard arguments in January involving cases filed against the Roman Catholic diocese of Lafayette over allegations that a priest in that region – about 135 miles (217km) west of New Orleans – molested several children between 1971 and 1979.

The lawsuits were filed under a “lookback window” law the Louisiana legislature passed unanimously in 2021, which eliminated deadlines for old claims in recognition of scientific research that found the average victim doesn’t come forward until that person is 52 years old.

Four Louisiana supreme court justices – James Genovese, Scott Crichton, Jeff Hughes and Piper Griffin – concurred that the “lookback window” law is unconstitutional. The majority opinion written by Genovese said reviving old sexual abuse claims violated the due-process rights of alleged abusers and their enablers to no longer be sued for damages once the original deadline to do so had passed.

The deadlines for filing such lawsuits have changed over the years. In the 1960s and 70s, victims – even children – had a single year to come forward. Those deadlines were extended in the 1980s and 90s to allow child victims to file suit well beyond their 18th birthdays. In 2021, such deadlines were eliminated entirely.

Several justices said from the bench that, regardless of how horrendous the harm caused by child molestation, applying the law retroactively raised constitutional concerns. But in his dissent Friday, Justice William Crain said Louisiana lawmakers should retain the power to give that right to victims.

“Absent a constitutional violation, which defendants have not established, the forum for this debate is the legislature, not this court,” Crain wrote. “The legislature had that debate and – without a single dissenting vote – abolished the procedural bar and restored plaintiffs’ right to sue.”

Crain was joined in dissent by colleagues Jay McCallum and John Weimer, the court’s chief justice.

Friday’s ruling does not affect measures eliminating deadlines to demand civil damages in cases of child sexual abuse that occurred after the law was enacted in 2021.

The lookback window struck from the books Friday was not exclusively for clergy abuse claimants. But it prompted many new cases of that nature against Louisiana’s Catholic institutions and clerics who worked for them.

Among the organizations standing to gain most from Friday’s ruling is the archdiocese of New Orleans, which declared bankruptcy in 2020 in an attempt to dispense with a mound of litigation related to a decades-old clerical molestation scandal there. The lookback window was the strongest legal weapon that clergy abuse accusers seeking damages from the archdiocese had in their efforts to drive the value of their claims up.

With the lookback window no longer a factor, the archdiocese’s efforts to settle those claims for as cheaply as possible received a significant boost.

“The organizations that enable and protect child molesters are rejoicing over this ruling,” said attorney Kristi Schubert, who represents a number of clerical abuse claimants caught up in the New Orleans archdiocese’s bankruptcy. “The ruling shields wrongdoers from the consequences of their evil actions.”

Some supporters of Catholic clergy abuse victims expressed concern that the Louisiana supreme court would ultimately rule against them after its justices prayed with New Orleans archbishop Gregory Aymond at a service in October at St Louis Cathedral. Organizers said the service’s purpose was for members of Louisiana’s legal profession to join Aymond – the leader of the state’s conference of Catholic bishops – in praying for the healing of clerical molestation victims.

Neither the archdiocese of New Orleans nor the diocese of Lafayette immediately commented on Friday’s court decision when asked.

Complete Article HERE!

Former deacon, whose son was abused by priest, excommunicated by Diocese of Lafayette


Scott Peyton, a former deacon whose son was molested by a priest he served alongside in St. Landry Parish, has been excommunicated by Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel.

By Jim Hummel

Scott Peyton, a former deacon whose son was molested by a priest he served alongside in St. Landry Parish, has been excommunicated by Lafayette Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel.

Peyton served as a deacon in the diocese until December 2023. That’s when he resigned citing “distressing revelations regarding sexual abuse scandals involving members of the clergy.”

“The magnitude of these revelations has deeply shaken my faith and trust in the institution to which I have dedicated a significant portion of my life,” Peyton wrote in his resignation letter to Bishop Deshotel. “This decision is not a rejection of my faith in God or my commitment to living a life guided by Christian principles. Instead, it reflects a conscientious objection to the way the Church has handled cases of sexual abuse, and a desire to distance myself from an institution that, currently, falls short of the values it professes.”

In 2019, Father Michael Guidry was sentenced to seven years in prison after pleading guilty to molesting Peyton’s teenage son. Peyton and Guidry served together at St. Peter’s Church in Morrow. The family settled a civil lawsuit against the diocese in 2021.

Bishop Deshotel wrote to Peyton following his resignation.

“I was sad to receive your email deciding to leave the Church and cease to exercise your vocation as Deacon,” wrote Bishop Deshotel in an email provided by Peyton to News 15. “I will remember you in my prayers and masses that you be open to the gift of faith in the Catholic Church founded by Jesus Christ and built on the Apostles. Sacramentally you are a Deacon though you choose not to exercise your ministry.”

But this week, months after he resigned, Peyton received a decree from Bishop Deshotel stating that he had been excommunicated from the church.

Bishop J. Douglas Deshotel

In the letter to Peyton, Bishop Deshotel wrote:

“A bishop never wishes to communicate a censure to anyone. I am aware that your family has suffered a trauma but the answer does not lie in leaving the Most Holy Eucharist: We are not Catholics because the Church on earth is perfect but because the Lord has entrusted us to a mystery greater than ourselves, which He established as the means to our salvation. The censures of the Church are intended to be medicinal, perhaps as much for those who impose them as for those who are subject to them. It is with this objective that I mournfully must declare them.”

Peyton worries his excommunication sends a harmful message to survivors of clergy sex abuse, especially given there is no indication his son’s abuser has been excommunicated.

“If molesting a child is not grave enough to get excommunicated, but telling the bishop that I don’t agree with how he’s running the diocese and how the church is handling the sex abuse crisis, if that’s a grave sin, then I guess I’ll wear the badge of excommunication as an honor. I think the hypocrisy in this excommunication speaks volumes of the leadership of Bishop Deshotel. I think he should resign his leadership and those that are running this diocese behind the scenes should step down along with him,” explained Peyton.

Complete Article HERE!