Vatican rejects cover-up claims over Irish Clergy Sex Abuse report

The Vatican has rejected claims by Irish PM Enda Kenny that it sabotaged efforts by Irish bishops to report child-molesting priests to police.

It follows the damning Cloyne Report that showed how allegations of clerical sex-abuse in Cork had been covered up.

In a speech to parliament in July, Mr Kenny accused the Church of putting its reputation ahead of abuse victims.

The Vatican said it was “sorry and ashamed” over the scandal but said his claims were “unfounded”.

“The Holy See is deeply concerned at the findings of the commission of inquiry concerning grave failures in the ecclesiastical governance of the diocese of Cloyne,” said the Vatican, in a detailed response to the allegations.

“The Holy See… in no way hampered or sought to interfere in any inquiry into cases of child sex abuse in the Diocese of Cloyne.”

“Furthermore, at no stage did the Holy See seek to interfere with Irish civil law or impede the civil authority in the exercise of its duties.”

‘Misinterpretation’
Mr Kenny had told the Irish parliament that the report into how allegations of sex abuse by priests in Cork had been covered up showed change was urgently needed.

Enda Kenny accused the Catholic Church of putting its reputation ahead of child rape victims
“The rape and torture of children were downplayed or ‘managed’ to uphold instead the primacy of the institution, its power, standing and ‘reputation’,” he said.

Parliament then passed a motion deploring the Holy See for “undermining child protection frameworks” after a letter to Irish bishops appeared to diminish Irish guidelines on reporting sex abuse by referring to them as “study guidelines”.

The Vatican then recalled its special envoy in Dublin, Papal Nuncio Giuseppe Leanza, to discuss the impact of the report.

But the Holy See’s response, published on Saturday, said Mr Kenny’s blistering accusations were based on a misinterpretation of a 1997 Vatican letter expressing “serious reservations” about the Irish bishops’ 1996 policy requiring bishops to report abusers to police.

“In a spirit of humility, the Holy See, while rejecting unfounded accusations, welcomes all objective and helpful observations and suggestions to combat with determination the appalling crime of sexual abuse of minors,” said the statement.

Released in July, the 400-page Cloyne Report found that Bishop John Magee – who stood down in March 2009 after serving as bishop of Cloyne since 1987 – had falsely told the government and the health service that his diocese was reporting all abuse allegations to authorities.

It also found that the bishop deliberately misled another inquiry and his own advisors by creating two different accounts of a meeting with a priest suspected of abusing a child – one for the Vatican and the other for diocesan files.

It discovered that, contrary to repeated assertions on its part, the Diocese of Cloyne did not implement the procedures set out in the Church protocols for dealing with allegations of child sex-abuse. It said the greatest failure was that no complaints, except one in 1996, were reported to the health authorities until 2008.

It said the disturbing findings were compounded by the fact that the commission found that the Vatican’s response to the Church guidelines was entirely unhelpful and gave comfort and support to those who dissented from the guidelines. It said this was “wholly unacceptable”.

http://tinyurl.com/3jpsf7z

Professor says church suppressed child abuse report

A LEADING child protection expert has urged the Victorian government to hold a public inquiry into the handling of child-sex cases by a Catholic religious order after the Catholic Church suppressed a report it asked him to write.

Sydney University law professor Patrick Parkinson wrote yesterday to the Victorian Attorney-General, Robert Clark, and Police Minister, Peter Ryan, seeking an inquiry into the behaviour of the Salesians of Don Bosco.

In his letter, Professor Parkinson says the church’s actions have cast doubt on its commitment to protect children before it protects itself.
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Professor Parkinson, who chaired a review of child protection laws in NSW and twice helped the church review its system for dealing with abuse complaints, said he wrote the report for the church’s professional standards committee on condition it be made public. But more than a year later this had not happened, due to strong lobbying to suppress it by the Australian head of the Salesians, Father Frank Moloney.

Professor Parkinson told the Herald the issue was no longer his report but the protection by the Salesians of three priests – Fathers Frank Klep, Jack Ayers and Julian Fox – which could be resolved only by a public inquiry.

The Salesians moved Father Klep to Samoa in 1998 just before he was to face court on five charges of indecent assault, having served nine months doing community work in 1994. He returned to Australia in 2004 and was jailed in 2006 for five years and 10 months.

In 2000, the order made a settlement with a Melbourne man who said Father Fox – a former Australian head of the order – abused him at the Salesian College in Rupertswood, Sunbury, in 1978-79.

A later Australian head wanted Father Fox, now in Rome and still a Salesian priest, to return to Australia to face questions at the request of Victoria Police, but he was overruled.

The same year, the Salesians paid to settle a complaint from a Melbourne man who said he was abused at Rupertswood in 1967-68. Father Ayers, who has lived for many years in Samoa, is still a Salesian priest.

In his letter, Professor Parkinson said the cases raised questions about the responsibility of religious orders to co-operate with police and about conspiracy to pervert the course of justice.

“What has taken place in seeking to suppress this report since August 2010 has raised further serious concerns in my mind about the commitment of the church to place the protection of children above the protection of itself,” he said.

The Australian Catholic Bishops Conference said Professor Parkinson was engaged to review its Towards Healing abuse protocol, and inquired into the Salesian cases as part of that on his own initiative.

Professor Parkinson and the Salesians tried to reach an agreed understanding of what happened, but “unfortunately Professor Parkinson insisted on maintaining positions which the Salesians claim were incorrect”.

http://tinyurl.com/3w384wy

Chicago Archdiocese to release priest sex abuse files under settlement with victims

Angel Santiago doesn’t want to see other children molested by a Catholic priest.

So Santiago, along with 11 other abuse victims, insisted a safeguard be written into a legal settlement with the Chicago Archdiocese that resulted in the creation of a system in which the Archdiocese is required to release the files of certain priests accused of sex abuse.

“As soon as a priest is determined to be credibly accused by the archdiocese … word goes out to the priest that they are subject to this protocol,” said lawyer Jeff Anderson, who represents the victims.

“Then they have the opportunity to object. … If they don’t respond, the process goes forward. If they get their own lawyer and fight, we’ll see further delays and uncertainties, but we will be aggressive and fight hard,” said Anderson.

The Archdiocese will have 60-day window to raise any concerns about releasing files.

The disclosure requirement is part of an agreement finalized on Friday. It also includes an undisclosed financial settlement to be divided among the 12 victims.

The new protocol for releasing files will be applied retroactively, but only to other priests Anderson’s law firm has brought cases against.

“We’ve brought cases against 35 of the 65 priests on the archdiocese website who are credibly accused of abuse dating back to the 1950s,” said Anderson.

“Our hope is to broaden that, but for now this is what it is, there are limitations with what we can require the Archdiocese to do,” he said.

Santiago’s accused tormentor, former priest Joseph Fitzharris, who currently lives in Chicago, will receive a letter. Fitzharris has not been charged in the Santiago case, but the archdiocese has found abuse accusations against him to be credible.

“I’m not afraid anymore,” said Santiago, 44, who said he was abused as a 12-year-old at his Northwest Side parish.

Fitzharris could not be reached for comment.

Anderson, who noted that few of the accused priests were ever prosecuted because of statute of limitations laws, hopes to post newly disclosed files within 60 days on his website, andersonadvocates.com.

The Archdiocese issued a statement saying: “The settlement announced today confirms that this process works, and that attorneys need not put their clients through the ordeal of litigation.”

http://tinyurl.com/3dq4tsc

Catholics in Crisis: Sex and Deception in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia

This is a MUST READ!

As the Archdiocese reels from a second grand jury report detailing its cover-up of sexual abuse by priests, the local church faces the biggest crisis in its history. How could a spiritual institution turn a blind eye to evil not just once, but twice? The answer lies in the story of the two men who’ve led the Catholic Church in Philadelphia for the past 25 years

http://tinyurl.com/3gajuyk

Suit: Former Catholic priest molested boy

Another lawsuit was filed Friday claiming that former Catholic priest Daniel McCormack sexually abused a boy while at St. Agatha parish in the Lawndale neighborhood.

The plaintiff, who uses the name John Doe 184 in the lawsuit, claims that McCormack begin sexually molesting him when he was 11-or-12 years-old in 2004 while the boy helped with chores at the parish, located at 3151 W. Douglas Blvd., according to the suit filed in Cook County Court.

After the incidents, McCormack would reward the boy for his help at the church and lure him back for more “projects” with money, gift cards, cash or a video game, the suit said.

The abuse continued until just prior to McCormack being arrested and charged in Jan. 2006 with sexually molesting two boys on multiple occasions, the suit said.

The suit claims that the Catholic Bishops of Chicago and Cardinal Francis George knew of McCormack’s sexual abuse of young boys before he was assigned to St. Agatha and began abusing the boy, the suit said.

The two-count suit claims negligence and fraud. The suit, being handled by Jeffrey R. Anderson, seeks a jury trial and unspecified damages.

The Archdiocese is disappointed that Jeffrey Anderson has chosen to file another lawsuit regarding Daniel McCormack which needlessly subjects his client to the ordeal of litigation, according to an emailed statement from the Archdiocese of Chicago spokeswoman.

The Archdiocese has worked hard and successfully to resolve these matters outside of court and will continue to do so, according to the statement.

The Archdiocese has a long-standing practice of reaching out to all victims of misconduct by clergy to resolve their claims in a just, compassionate and respectful way, the statement said.

The Archdiocese continues to work for the healing of all those affected by the tragedy of child and adolescent sexual abuse, according to the statement.

http://tinyurl.com/4x6fbgf