An Argentine judge recognizes gender abuse suffered for years by 20 nuns in a breakthrough ruling

— The ruling in the homeland of Pope Francis cast a spotlight on the long-standing of abuse of nuns by priests and bishops in the Catholic Church.

FILE – Women gather round the San Bernardo Convent in support of the convent’s cloistered nuns who accused the Archbishop of Salta Mario Antonio Cargnello and other church officials of gender-based psychological and physical violence, in Salta, Argentina, May 3, 2022. An Argentine court ruled on Thursday, April 4, 2024, that Cargnello and three other church officials committed different forms of violence against the cloistered nuns of the convent.


An Argentine judge on Friday ruled that 20 cloistered nuns had suffered abuse for more than two decades at the hands of high-ranking clergy in the country’s conservative north, and ordered the accused archbishop and church officials to undergo psychological treatment and training in gender discrimination.

The ruling in the homeland of Pope Francis cast a spotlight on the long-standing of abuse of nuns by priests and bishops in the Catholic Church.

Though long overshadowed by other church scandals, such abuses in religious life are increasingly being aired and denounced as a result of nuns feeling emboldened by the #MeToo movement, which has a corollary in the church, #NunsToo.

“I conclude and affirm that the nuns have suffered acts of gender violence religiously, physically, psychologically and economically for more than 20 years,” Judge Carolina Cáceres said in the ruling from Salta in northwestern Argentina.

She also ordered the verdict be conveyed to Francis.

The four accused clergy members have denied committing any violence. The archbishop’s lawyer, Eduardo Romani, dismissed Friday’s ruling as baseless and vowed to appeal. Still, he said, the archbishop would abide by the order to receive treatment and anti-discrimination training through a local NGO “whether or not he agrees with its basis.”

The nuns’ lawyer hailed the verdict as unprecedented in Argentina in recognizing the plaintiffs’ plight and the deeper problem of gender discrimination.

“It shatters the ‘status quo’ because it targets a person with a great deal of power,” said José Viola, the lawyer.

In recent years, several prominent cases have emerged involving nuns, laywomen or consecrated women denouncing spiritual, psychological, physical or sexual abuse by once-exalted priests.

But complaints have largely fallen on deaf ears at the Vatican and in the rigid all-male hierarchy at the local level in Argentina, apparently prompting the nuns in Salta to seek remedy in the secular justice system. A similar dynamic played out when the clergy abuse of minors scandal first erupted decades ago and victims turned to the courts because of inaction by church authorities.

The 20 nuns from the reclusive order of Discalced Carmelites at San Bernardo Monastery — dedicated to solitude, silence and daily contemplative prayer — brought their case forward in 2022, sending shockwaves through conservative Salta.

Their complaints cited a range of mistreatment including verbal insults, threats, humiliation and physical — although not sexual — assault.

The nuns describe archbishop Mario Cargnello as grabbing, slapping and shaking women. At one point, they said, Cargnello squeezed the lips of a nun to silence her. At another, he pounced on a nun, striking her as he struggled to snatch a camera from her hands. They also accused Cargello of borrowing nuns’ money without paying them back.

Cáceres, the judge, described the instances as “physical and psychological gender violence.”

Complete Article HERE!

People say they’re leaving religion due to anti-LGBTQ teachings and sexual abuse

— The PRRI poll found that the vast majority of those who are unaffiliated are content to stay that way. Just 9% of respondents say they’re looking for a religion that would be right for them.

Symbols of the three monotheistic religions

By Jason DeRose

People in the U.S. are leaving and switching faith traditions in large numbers. The idea of “religious churning” is very common in America, according to a new survey from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI).

It finds that around one-quarter (26%) of Americans now identify as religiously unaffiliated, a number that has risen over the last decade and is now the largest single religious group in the U.S. That’s similar to what other surveys and polls have also found, including Pew Research.

PRRI found that the number of those who describe themselves as “nothing in particular” has held steady since 2013, but those who identify as atheists have doubled (from 2% to 4%) and those who say they’re agnostic has more than doubled (from 2% to 5%).

This study looks at which faith traditions those unaffiliated people are coming from.

“Thirty-five percent were former Catholics, 35% were former mainline Protestants, only about 16% were former evangelicals,” says Melissa Deckman, PRRI’s chief executive officer. “And really not many of those Americans are, in fact, looking for an organized religion that would be right for them. We just found it was 9%.”

That these people are not looking for a religion has, Deckman says, implications for how and even whether houses of worship should try to attract new people.

Among other findings: The Catholic Church is losing more members than it’s gaining, though the numbers are slightly better for retention among Hispanic Catholics.

There is much lower religious churn among Black Protestants and among Jews who seem overall happy in their faith traditions and tend to stay there.

As for why people leave their religions, PRRI found that about two-thirds (67%) of people who leave a faith tradition say they did so because they simply stopped believing in that religion’s teachings.

And nearly half (47%) of respondents who left cited negative teaching about the treatment of LGBTQ people.

Those numbers were especially high with one group in particular.

“Religion’s negative teaching about LGBTQ people are driving younger Americans to leave church,” Deckman says. “We found that about 60% of Americans who are under the age of 30 who have left religion say they left because of their religious traditions teaching, which is a much higher rate than for older Americans.”

Hispanic Americans are also more likely to say they’ve left a religion over LGBTQ issues. Other reasons cited for leaving: clergy sexual abuse and over-involvement in politics.

The new PRRI report is based on a survey of more than 5,600 adults late last year.

About one-third of religiously unaffiliated Americans say they no longer identify with their childhood religion because the religion was bad for their mental health. That response was strongest among LGBTQ respondents.

The survey also asked about the prevalence of the so-called “prosperity Gospel.” It found that 31% of respondents agreed with the statement “God always rewards those who have good faith with good health, financial success, and fulfilling personal relationships.”

Black Americans tend to agree more with these theological beliefs than other racial or ethnic groups. And Republicans are more likely than independents and Democrats to hold such beliefs.

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!

Retired Quebec judge says he believes sexual abuse allegations against former Nunavut priest

— Canadian Oblates commissioned Andre Denis to investigate handling of allegations against Johannes Rivoire

Former Quebec Superior Court justice André Denis leads the Oblate Safeguarding Commission, an independent review of historical allegations of sexual abuse against Johannes Rivoire in present-day Nunavut.

By Emma Tranter, Tessa Vikander

A retired Quebec Superior Court judge, in a report commissioned by the Canadian Oblates, says he believes allegations made against former Nunavut priest Johannes Rivoire of sexually abusing children in the territory are true.

The report, written by Andre Denis, also suggests the Catholic church was not aware of the allegations made against Rivoire at the time because the RCMP didn’t notify them.

“Rivoire did not tell the whole truth to his superiors, to his confrères, to the Inuit for whom he had pastoral responsibility, and he himself denies a reality that has nevertheless been demonstrated,” Denis wrote in a 57-page report released Tuesday.

Denis’s report is not a legal finding of guilt. His investigation makes conclusions based on a “preponderance of evidence,” and not “proof beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Rivoire, an Oblate priest from France, has long faced allegations he sexually abused children in Nunavut in the 1960s and 1970s. He spent more than 30 years working as a priest in the territory, mostly in Arviat and Naujaat.

Rivoire, who is 92 and lives in Lyon, France, and his lawyer have denied all of the allegations against him. CBC has reached out to Rivoire’s lawyer about the report, but has not received a response.

The Oblates of Mary Immaculate, OMI Lacombe Canada and the Oblates of the Province of France hired Denis to investigate how past allegations against Rivoire were addressed within the congregation.

“The scandal for the plaintiffs is that Joannès Rivoire remains a religious despite all he has done. This is a reality the victims do not accept,” Denis wrote.

Tall man in black frock, in black and white.
Rev. Johannes Rivoire moved to Nunavut in the 1960s and stayed there until returning to France in 1993.

6 years before charges were laid

Denis travelled to France, Italy and Canada, including Nunavut, where he interviewed some of Rivoire’s alleged victims.

He also met at length with Rivoire, who denied the allegations but claimed he had a consenting sexual relationship with a woman in the territory.

Denis also concluded the Catholic church didn’t try to help him escape the Canadian justice system.

Three charges of sexual abuse were laid against Rivoire in 1998. They were stayed in 2017 after the Crown decided there was no reasonable prospect of conviction.

A new charge was brought forward in 2022 and an arrest warrant was issued for Rivoire.

Days before the first complaint was filed with the RCMP in 1993, Rivoire fled Canada for France.

Denis says Rivoire told the church he needed to return home to take care of his elderly parents.

The RCMP finally charged Rivoire in 1998.

“The RCMP had no communication with the Oblates, nor did they notify them of anything throughout the legal process,” Denis wrote.

“Had these complaints been brought before the court in 1993, it is possible to believe that Joannès Rivoire would have returned to Nunavut to face Canadian justice. He probably could have been persuaded to do so.”

Denis says the Oblates were not informed of Rivoire’s charges until more than a decade later.

Five seated people look at the camera.
Delegates with Nunavut Tunngavik Inc. speaking to media in Paris, France, in an effort to push the French government to extradite Johannes Rivoire in 2022.

Inuit survivors began speaking publicly about what they went through. A delegation also travelled to France in 2022, and asked that Rivoire return to Canada and face trial, and advocates for survivors of child sexual abuse in France also campaigned on the issue. The Oblates in both countries supported the request.

Although the priest has faced several criminal charges from the Canadian courts, France does not typically extradite people, and in October 2022, the country denied the latest request for Rivoire’s extradition.

Last month, leadership in Rome ruled against Rivoire’s dismissal from the Oblates.

‘I was angry’

Tanya Tungilik, whose late father Marius Tungilik had accused Rivoire of sexual abuse, said she had mixed feelings after reading the report.

“I was angry at a lot of parts but glad that [Denis] said that Rivoire was guilty of the crimes … that he believed us,” she said on Tuesday.

A woman wearing a blue traditional Inuit amauti
Tanya Tungilik, pictured in Rankin Inlet in 2022. Tungilik, whose late father Marius Tungilik had accused Rivoire of sexual abuse, said she believes RCMP also need to be held accountable for why Rivoire was not charged until 1998.

Tungilik said she was troubled by how long it took for the RCMP to investigate the allegations brought against Rivoire.

“Why did it take so long?” she said. “They need to be held accountable, too.”

She also said she doesn’t believe Denis’s claim that the Oblates didn’t know about the allegations made against Rivoire.

“I’m glad that it’s out there,” Tungilik said. “But I’m disappointed and angry that he says that the Oblates didn’t know at all.”

Facts hidden

Denis met with Rivoire in Lyon, France, in the spring of 2023, but explains in the report that he doesn’t believe “the version of events” that Rivoire told him.

Instead, Rivoire left Canada “hiding this terrible reality” from church authorities. He told a “true but incomplete story” that he was only returning to France to care for his sick parents.

Reflecting on meeting the Inuit delegates in 2022, Denis said Rivoire told him he thought those who were accusing him “may be trying to get money out of the Oblates.”

Denis’ research of historical documents found Rivoire “did not tell the whole truth to his superiors.”

His report quotes a 2013 conversation between Rivoire and Father Yves Chalvet de Récy, when Chalvet had just learned of the arrest warrant for Rivoire.

At that point, Rivoire is said to have told Chalvet the children he was accused of abusing “were looking for tenderness that they didn’t have in their families.”

“If I’m not innocent, the children aren’t either,” Rivoire told Chalvet.

“It’s true that I’m not innocent, but allegations of sexual assaults on minors are a fabrication. That’s why I came back to France in the first place.”

Ken Thorson, provincial lead of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe, poses for a photo.
Ken Thorson, provincial lead of the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe, says he accept the report’s findings.

Rev. Ken Thorson, with the Oblates of Mary Immaculate Lacombe Canada, said they accept the report’s findings “with a heavy heart.”

“We wish to apologize unequivocally to anyone who was harmed by an Oblate priest and to continue taking concrete steps towards transparency and transformation, informed by guidance from victims, survivors and Inuit representatives.”

Complete Article HERE!

The End of Church Militant

By Hank Kennedy

We fighters for LGBTQ rights have to take our victories where we can get them. As state governments continue to try to take our rights away, as right-wing bigots fulminate about eliminating us from public life, as we reel in horror from the death of Nex Benedict, it’s nice to get some good news. What kind of good news? How about an anti-LGBT hate group shutting down?

In April, the Southern Poverty Law Center-designated anti-LGBT hate group Church Militant is closing its doors and shutting down its website. The group had its headquarters on Hilton Street, incongruously in Detroit’s premiere Gayborhood of Ferndale. The brainchild behind Church Militant was former broadcaster Michael Voris. Voris was incensed by what he viewed as inaccuracies about Catholicism presented in the book and film the DaVinci Code. He sought to clear up misconceptions about Catholicism through the website, later renamed Church Militant.

It appears that clearing up misconceptions about Catholicism was really a front for Voris’s true goal, spreading hatred and intolerance. Church Militant insinuated that more liberal Catholics were gay in an attempt to force them out of the church. They called composer of Catholic hymns Dan Schuette an “active homosexual,” and garnered even more publicity by calling the Archbishop of Washington D.C, a Black man, a “Marxist” and an “African Queen.” These racist and homophobic slurs were too much for the Detroit Catholic archdiocese, who wrote an official rebuke of the organization.

This rebuke did not lead to a moderation of Church Militant’s message. They promoted Holocaust denier and Trump-dinner guest Nicholas Fuentes and hosted a fawning interview with conspiracy theorist and self-proclaimed Christian nationalist Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene. Within Ferndale, they attempted to get their neighbors on city council to fly their flag but wisely, the city decided against flying the flag of a hate group. In an episode that showed the group’s influence, Donald Trump’s head of the Federal Elections Commission, James E. Trainor, gave an interview to Church Militant. In his interview, Trainor called the separation of church and state “a fallacy” and declared that the 2020 presidential election was “a spiritual war.”

As to what else Church Militant did to earn their hate group designation, for one they endorsed the discredited and harmful practice of conversion therapy. They ran homophobic headlines like “Episcopal Sodomy: Exposing the Enablers” and “The Gay Rainbow is the Mark of the Beast.” They targeted a LGBTQ owned bakery by asking them to bake a cake with a homophobic message.

I only encountered Church Militant once, during a counter-protest in Royal Oak. They were there, along with the 11th District Republican Committee led by fellow bigot Shane Trejo, to protest a Drag Queen Story Time event at Sidetrack Books. Happily they were vastly outnumbered. An estimated two dozen protested the event but there were 1,000 joyful counter protesters. Church Militant and friends could not halt the event and had to slink away in defeat. No children were harmed by the storytime or by any bigots.

An obvious influence on the group was notorious historical resident of Metro Detroit: The Anti-Semitic “Radio Priest” Father Charles Coughlin, who broadcast in Royal Oak. Like Church Militant, Coughlin spewed hate against minority groups and theorized that foreigners and Communists were secretly controlling the United States. Coughlin’s hated minority was Jews, for Church Militant it was LGBTQ people. Also like Church Militant, Coughlin used modern media to spread his message. In the 1930s that was radio; today it is the internet. Church Militant seemed aware of the connection given that they posted an article to their website recommending Coughlin to members as a fighter against Communism and the welfare state. For obvious reasons, they avoided the swastika-covered elephant in the room of Coughlin’s Nazi sympathies.

A few months ago, Vorhis stepped down. He had admitted in a 2017 Atlantic documentary that he had “live-in relationships with homosexual men”, but that he was now no longer gay. Apparently that change did not take since he had been sending out shirtless selfies to male staffers at Church Militant, surely embarrassing behavior for such a virulently anti-LGBTQ organization. After that misfortune, the group was sued for defamation by Reverend Georges de Laire due to Church Militant publishing an article calling him unstable and vindictive. The costs of the lawsuit settlement are so great that Church Militant will have to shut down in April. When I mentioned at a vigil for Nex Benedict in Ferndale that Church Militant would no longer be in operation, there were cheers and applause.

While I may fantasize that Church Militant were driven out a pitchfork and torch-wielding mob out of a Gothic horror story, I’m glad to see them gone, regardless of what eventually shut them down. They are down for the count, regardless of who delivered the knockout blow. But, we must be ever vigilant and ready to mobilize against any groups that may try to take the place of that dark satanic mill of propaganda.

Complete Article HERE!