Manitoba RCMP charge 92-year-old priest in residential school case

Manitobans honour the lives of 215 children found buried at former B.C. residential school on May 31, 2021.

By The Canadian Press

Manitoba RCMP say a 92-year-old priest has been charged after a decade-long investigation into the Fort Alexander Residential School northeast of Winnipeg.

Arthur Masse was charged with one count of indecent assault on a 10-year-old girl who was a student at the school, RCMP said Friday. The alleged offence took place between 1968 and 1970.

Chief Derrick Henderson said the arrest has opened old wounds.

“People were talking about this for many years. Did society believe them?” Henderson said.

“That’s what is always the most difficult thing.”

Mounties have said that officers with the major crime unit began looking into the residential school in 2010 and a criminal investigation began the following year.

The residential school of Fort Alexander and surrounding buildings and houses are shown in this handout image provided by the archives of the Société historique de Saint-Boniface. The province confirmed Thursday a person was charged with one count of indecent assault on a female related to the investigation into the former Fort Alexander Residential School northeast of Winnipeg.

The school was opened in 1905 in the community of Fort Alexander, which later became the Sagkeeng First Nation.

The school closed in 1970.

Police said more than 80 RCMP investigators reviewed archived records of the school, including student and employee lists, and spoke to or interacted with more than 700 people across North America. In total, 75 witness and victim statements were obtained by police.

“The size and scope of this investigation has meant many years of investigative work,” said Sgt. Paul Manaigre, Media Relations Officer with the Manitoba RCMP. “While we have certainly had the steps involved in a police investigation top of mind throughout the whole process, we have also been very aware of the affect our investigation was having on the community. The emotional trauma experienced by victims of abuse is very real, and despite the years that intervened between the alleged occurrences and when police were investigating, that trauma is still present.”

Manitoba RCMP say this is the only investigation into residential schools underway and with this charge, the investigation is concluded.

“Unfortunately, due to the passage of time, many of the victims were not able to participate in the investigation, whether that be for mental or physical health reasons or because the victim is now deceased,” said Manaigre.

The Southern Chiefs’ Organization called on law enforcement to investigate and reinvestigate all claims around residential schools.

Masse was part of the Catholic religious order called the Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.

Rev. Ken Thorson of the OMI Lacombe Canada said the Oblates condemn all instances of sexual abuse and are “deeply sorry” to any survivors who were harmed.

Thorson said in an email that the order is committed to participating in the investigation and will co-operate fully in legal proceedings.

Information compiled by the Societe historique de Saint-Boniface, an archive in Manitoba, said Masse was born in Ferland, Sask., in 1929. His first post was at the Fort Frances residential school in northern Ontario where he stayed until 1957. He later returned to that school in 1970 and oversaw the student residence until it closed four years later.

Masse worked at a number of other schools during his time away from Fort Frances.

Arthur Masse
92-year-old retired priest, Arthur Masse, has been charged with one count of indecent assault in relation to a 10-year-old girl who was a student at the Fort Alexander Residential School in Manitoba.

Minegoziibe Anishinabe First Nation Chief Derek Nepinak said Masse also spent time at the Pine Creek Residential School northwest of Winnipeg and was “notorious” there.

The Fort Alexander school also had a reputation for severe abuse.

Survivors told the Truth and Reconciliation Commission about starvation, sexual abuse and harsh discipline. Children from nearly two dozen First Nations attended the school for about 10 months of the year.

Sagkeeng First Nation recently discovered 190 anomalies during a search near the school using ground-penetrating radar.

Initial data shows the irregularities fit some of the criteria for graves, but the community leadership has said more information is needed.

Henderson said he was taken aback when he learned of the arrest Thursday. He remembered the retired priest attending hockey games and other community events.

He said while reliving pain has been difficult, it is important for the truth to come out.

“This is another step in that story, another chapter in that story of the abuse in residential schools.”

Complete Article HERE!

Pride, prejudice, and the Pope

Irish American Michael O’Loughlin understands how far gay Catholics have come, and how far we all still have to go before something like real progress is made.

June is widely known as Pride Month, an effort to acknowledge the obstacles that gays, lesbians, and many others have had to overcome in America.

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To a group that calls itself CatholicVote, well, that’s precisely the problem. They seem to believe that shame is so much better. This despite all the evidence to the contrary painfully provided by many — though not all — within the church this group claims to follow.

“A controversial conservative Catholic organization is urging parents to ‘Hide the Pride’ during Pride Month — by checking out any LBGTQ-related books they see at their local libraries so that no children will see them,” TheHill.com reported last week, adding that CatholicVote cites “recent polls” which show “American moms and dads do not want their children exposed to sexual and ‘trans’ content as part of their education.”

I don’t know whether to howl with rage or yawn at the sheer boredom of all this.

Well, to paraphrase George Carlin, if there are still any books left after certain folks have burned the ones that really bother them, you should check out the one Michael O’Loughlin recently wrote.

O’Loughlin, after all, understands how far gay Catholics — yes, you read that right, Catholic voters — have come. And how far we all still have to go before something like real progress is made.

“In many ways,” O’Loughlin told the Irish Voice, sister publication to IrishCentral, recently, “knowing all this history makes it easier to weather the current onslaught of bigotry. Because I have a better sense now of how others endured it, fought it, and overcame it.”

O’Loughlin’s book “Hidden Mercy: AIDS, Catholics, and the Untold Stories of Compassion in the Face of Fear,” begins with a central conflict in not just his own life, but in that of so many other Irish Catholics, on both sides of the Atlantic.

“I am gay and I am Catholic,” O’Loughlin writes. “And I struggle continuously to reconcile those two parts of my identity.”

Such a noble yet rare thing to do these days. To work to try and bring something together, even as so many others are shouting and ranting and raging. Or just walking away and bitterly giving up.

The folks at CatholicVote may not be impressed. But a fellow in the Vatican sure was.

Late last year, O’Loughlin wrote an op-ed essay in The New York Times, explaining that his extensive talks with people trying to reconcile their faith and sexuality — “the fellowship, gratitude and moments of revelation we exchanged…had a profound effect on my own faith.”

In fact, O’Loughlin, whose grandfather came to the US from Tuam, Co Galway, decided to write a letter to Pope Francis.

“To my surprise, he wrote back,” O’Loughlin writes.

Pope Francis responded, in part, “Thank you for shining a light on the lives and bearing witness to the many priests, religious sisters and lay people, who opted to accompany, support and help their brothers and sisters who were sick from HIV and AIDS at great risk to their profession and reputation.”

O’Loughlin had to admit that the Pope’s “words offer me encouragement that dialogue is possible between LGBT Catholics and church leaders, even at the highest levels.”

So, along the same lines, on June 24 and 25, Outreach 2022 will take place at Fordham University in New York City.

While the CatholicVote folks are content to divide in the hopes of conquering well, something, folks like Father James Martin, and Sister Jeannine Gramick, will gather to discuss what Catholics and the LGBTQ community have in common. They will work to make the world a better, not more hostile, place.

This should not be shocking.

Sadly, this is still kind of a big deal.

Either way, all involved should be very proud.

Complete Article HERE!

School flying BLM, LGBTQ flags can’t call itself Catholic, bishop says

FILE UNDER: Insulated, monolithic, callous, tone deaf church power structure

An LGBTQ pride flag and a Black Lives Matter flag fly alongside the American flag above Nativity School of Worcester in Worcester, Mass.

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The stark, dual-colored letters of the Black Lives Matter flag and the bright rainbow stripes of the Pride flag had flown above the Massachusetts Catholic school for more than a year before the local bishop registered his opposition.

The Black Lives Matter flag, Bishop Robert McManus said in April, has been “co-opted by some factions which also instill broad-brush distrust of police.” And the LGBTQ flag could be used to contrast church teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman, he added.

When Nativity School of Worcester didn’t budge, McManus issued a severe ruling. The tuition-free middle school, which serves boys facing economic hardship, can no longer identify itself as Catholic because the flags are “inconsistent with Catholic teaching,” he declared Thursday.

“The flying of these flags in front of a Catholic school sends a mixed, confusing and scandalous message to the public about the Church’s stance on these important moral and social issues,” McManus wrote. “Despite my insistence that the school administration remove these flags because of the confusion and the properly theological scandal that they do and can promote, they refuse to do so.”

That defiance, McManus said, left him no other choice but to strip the Jesuit-run school of its Catholic affiliation. The school also can no longer celebrate Mass or the sacraments or use diocesan institutions to raise funds. It was not included Thursday in the diocese’s list of Catholic schools in its region.

The decision, which comes during Pride Month, appears to be a rare instance of a Catholic organization’s affiliation with the phrase “Black Lives Matter” becoming a flash point with its diocese. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has taken a nuanced approach to the phrase, endorsing the concept of racial justice but not necessarily the organizations that attach themselves to that message. The Black Lives Matter movement describes itself as aimed at eradicating White supremacy and interrupting violence against Black communities.

Nativity School said its use of the Black Lives Matter and Pride flags was a response to a call from its students, most of whom are people of color, to make their community more inclusive. The flags symbolize that all are welcome at Nativity, the school’s president said Thursday.

“Both flags are now widely understood to celebrate the human dignity of our relatives, friends and neighbors who have faced, and continue to face hate and discrimination,” Thomas McKenney wrote. “Though any symbol or flag can be co-opted by political groups or organizations, flying our flags is not an endorsement of any organization or ideology, they fly in support of marginalized people.”

The bishop disagrees. The Pride flag represents support for same-sex marriage and “a LGBTQ+ lifestyle,” he said. And while the church teaches that all lives are sacred, McManus said the Black Lives Matter movement has used that phrase to contradict Catholic teaching on the importance of the nuclear family. (Black Lives Matter previously said on its website that it aims to “disrupt the Western-prescribed nuclear family structure requirement by supporting each other as extended families.” The page was later taken offline.)

Bishop McManus

Nativity said it will appeal the bishop’s decision — but it has no plans to remove the flags, which it said show its commitment to solidarity with its students and families. McKenney said the administrators’ decision was informed by the Gospel, Catholic social teaching and the school’s Jesuit heritage.

The outcome follows months of dialogue between the school and the Diocese of Worcester. Around the same time that McManus took issue with the flags in March, a person tore down both flags, the school said. Two months later, the bishop warned the school that it would lose its Catholic label if it did not remove the displays.

Nativity School isn’t the only educational institution to be stripped of its “Catholic” label. In 2019, the Archdiocese of Indianapolis told Brebeuf Jesuit Preparatory School that it could no longer identify itself as Catholic after it refused to fire a teacher who was in a same-sex marriage. The Midwest Province of Jesuits said it would appeal the decision through a church process.

To Guillermo Creamer Jr., an openly gay alumnus of Nativity School, the flags symbolize that Nativity is inclusive of Black lives — a message he said is crucial at a school with primarily Black and Latino students.

“For these young men who are witnessing what’s happening around the country and seeing the Black Lives Matter flag fly, it’s a very big deal,” he said.

Creamer, 27, said he expects the bishop’s decision to prompt other Catholic schools that align themselves with Black Lives Matter or pro-LGBTQ messages in some way to question whether that’s acceptable. But he said that may not be entirely bad if it encourages Catholics to talk honestly about whether and how these causes fit into their faith.

In his letter to the community, McKenney reminded parents that Nativity School is funded by individuals and groups — not by the diocese — and that it would continue to operate as usual.

Outside the school building, he noted, the flags still fly.

Complete Article HERE!

Patriarchy and purity culture combine to silence women in the Southern Baptist Convention

— And are blocking efforts to address the sexual abuse scandal

A woman describes being abused sexually by a Southern Baptist minister, outside the Southern Baptist Convention’s annual meeting in June 2019, in Birmingham, Ala.

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A devastating yearlong investigation into the executive committee of the largest conservative evangelical denomination in the U.S., the Southern Baptist Convention, has documented widespread claims of sex abuse including accusations of rape, cover-ups and gross mistreatment of women seeking justice.

In 2019 the Houston Chronicle and San Antonio Express-News partnered on a series of investigative reports on sexual misconduct by Southern Baptists with formal church roles. Subsequently, the annual meeting of the SBC held in June 2021 voted to authorize an investigations firm, Guidepost Solutions, to conduct an independent probe of its executive committee and its handling of sex abuse. The report and the list of alleged offenders has recently been made public.

I am a scholar of evangelicalism, gender and American culture, and over several years of my research I have seen how deeply ingrained aspects of conservative white evangelicalism force women to stay silent. In researching my two books, “Evangelical Christian Women” and “Building God’s Kingdom,” I found how structures of patriarchy force women to stay silent.

These deeply ingrained aspects of conservative white evangelicalism include “complementarianism,” or the patriarchal view that God gives authority to men and requires submission from women, and purity culture, an extreme version of sexual abstinence.

Purity culture

The SBC’s “True Love Waits,” a premarital abstinence campaign for teens launched in 1992, was an important component of the rise of purity culture. It was best known for the purity rings that girls wore as part of a pledge to their virginity to God and family.

More than merely the value of forgoing sex until marriage, purity culture centers sexual purity as a primary measure of the value of young women, who need to remain “pure” to attract a godly man in marriage. Sex education is virtually nonexistent, and dating is traded for “courtship” leading to marriage, under the authority of the girl’s father.

As author Linda Kay Klein writes in her book “Pure,” women are taught that they are responsible not only for their own purity, but for the purity of the males around them. Women are also made to believe that they are responsible if men are led to sin by what women wear. Additionally, they can be blamed for being inadequately submissive and for speaking up when they should be quiet. Women raised with these teachings also report experiencing tremendous fear and shame around issues of gender, sex and marriage.

The rhetoric of purity culture can be traced directly to the racist origins of the Southern Baptist Convention. The defense of slavery was the very foundation upon which the denomination was built, and the protection of the “purity of white womanhood” was a the justification for the perpetuation of white supremacy that outlived slavery.

How survivors described the abuse

Credibly accused men were protected by the SBC, while the women who dared to speak up were called sluts, adulteresses, Jezebels and even agents of Satan. For example, the report details the story of one woman whose abuse was mischaracterized by the SBC’s Baptist Press as a consensual affair and she was harassed online and called an adulteress. She ultimately lost her job at a Southern Baptist organization.

The report, which the former SBC leader Russell Moore calls “apocalyptic,” details harassment, insults and attacks on social media, some of which came from Baptist leaders to whom the women had been taught God required them to revere and submit. For example, the executive staff member at the center of handling abuse accusations, Augie Boto, characterized the survivors seeking justice as doing the work of Satan.

Survivor after survivor described their treatment at the hands of their own leaders as worse than their initial assaults. One survivor told investigators that when she provided details of her sexual abuse as a child among other things, one Executive Committee (EC) member “turn(ed) his back to her while she was speaking … and another EC member chortl(ed).”

“I ask you to try to imagine what it’s like to speak about something so painful to a room in which men disrespect you in such a way. … to speak about this horrific trauma of having my pastor repeatedly rape me as a child, only to have religious leaders behave in this way,” she said.

Shaming and silencing women

A woman wearing a blue shirt speaking at a microphone, with a poster by her side that says 'I can call it evil because I know what goodness is.'
Rape survivor and abuse victim advocate Mary DeMuth speaks during a rally protesting the Southern Baptist Convention’s treatment of women outside the convention’s annual meeting in Dallas in June 2019.

When victims are permitted to tell their stories to people in authority, it is likely to be an all-male committee including perhaps friends of the accused.

In such a hearing women – who because of purity culture practices have often been taught to always be modest and quiet in mixed company and may have had little to no sex education – are asked to detail what they often say is the most painful experience of their lives. Purity culture creates in women a strong sense of shame surrounding their bodies, their own sexuality, and sex in general. When they exhibit evidence of that shame it is taken as an admission that they share responsibility for the abuse.

Like their forebears before them who mobilized the mythic purity of white womanhood to shore up their power, today’s leaders at the center of this report remain male and overwhelmingly white. They use the language of purity culture to shame and silence women seeking justice while, at the same time, leading the charge in the fight against coming to terms with racism.

Can there be real reform?

The chairman of the SBC executive committee, Rolland Slade, and interim President and CEO Willie McLaurin said in a statement, in response to the report: “We are grieved by the findings of this investigation. We are committed to doing all we can to prevent future instances of sexual abuse in churches, to improve our response and our care, to remove reporting roadblocks.” Other Baptists too have expressed shock and anger at the revelations.

The Guidepost Solutions report concludes with a series of strategies such as forming an independent committee to oversee reforms, including providing resources for prevention and reporting of abuse. As helpful as these strategies may be, they don’t address how the underlying culture of the SBC continues to maintain the structures of white patriarchy.

Complete Article HERE!

Pope says traditionalist Catholics “gag” church reforms

Pope Francis delivers his blessing as he recites the Regina Coeli noon prayer from the window of his studio overlooking St. Peter’s Square, at the Vatican, Sunday June 12, 2022.

By Associated Press

Pope Francis has complained that traditionalist Catholics, particularly in the United States, are “gagging” the church’s modernizing reforms and insisted that there was no turning back.

Francis told a gathering of Jesuit editors in comments published Tuesday that he was convinced that some Catholics simply have never accepted the Second Vatican Council, the meetings of the 1960s that led to Mass being celebrated in the vernacular rather than Latin and revolutionized the church’s relations with people of other faiths, among other things.

“The number of groups of ‘restorers’ – for example, in the United States there are many – is significant,” Francis told the editors, according to excerpts published by the Jesuit journal La Civilta Cattolica.

“Restorationism has come to gag the council,” he said, adding that he knew some priests for whom the 16th century Council of Trent was more memorable than the 20th century Vatican II.

Traditionalists have become some of Francis’ fiercest critics, accusing him of heresy for his opening to divorced and civilly remarried Catholics, outreach to gay Catholics and other reforms. Francis has taken an increasingly hard line against them, re-imposing restrictions on celebrating the old Latin Mass and taking specific action in dioceses and religious orders where traditionalists have resisted his reforms.

Just last week, in a meeting with Sicilian clergy, Francis told the priests that it wasn’t always appropriate to use “grandma’s lace” in their vestments and to update their liturgical garb to be in touch with current times and follow in the spirit of Vatican II.

“It is also true that it takes a century for a council to take root. We still have forty years to make it take root, then!” he told the editors.

Speaking about the church in Germany, Francis also warned that he still had an offer of resignation in hand for the archbishop of Cologne, Cardinal Rainer Maria Woelki, who faced strong criticism for his handling of the church’s sexual abuse scandal.

Francis gave Woelki a “time out” of several months last September, but still hasn’t definitively ruled on his future. That has kept the situation in Cologne uncertain and frustrated the head of the German bishops’ conference, who has pressed for a decision one way or the other.

“When the situation was very turbulent, I asked the archbishop to go away for six months, so that things would calm down and I could see clearly,” Francis said. “When he came back, I asked him to write a resignation letter. He did and gave it to me. And he wrote an apology letter to the diocese. I left him in his place to see what would happen, but I have his resignation in hand.”