Belgian bishop faces new abuse allegations

A Belgian lawyer said on Monday he had launched an inquiry into a new case of alleged sexual abuse by the former bishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe, who has already admitted to having abused his under-age nephews.

“The present case concerns sexual abuse in the 1990s,” at a care home in Loker, in western Belgium near the French border, the lawyer, Walter Van Steenbrugge, said.

He said he had handed the allegations to a court in Brussels and lodged an inquiry with it. It was up to the court to decide whether the statute of limitations ruled out a prosecution, and if not, whether or not to prosecute the bishop, he added.

Vangheluwe, who was bishop of Bruges from 1984 to 2010, is the highest-ranking member of the Belgian Catholic Church to be involved in a child abuse scandal which resulted in 475 complaints of molestation by priests.

Vangheluwe admitted in 2010 that he had abused one of his nephews during the 1980s, when the nephew was a child.

That case was beyond the statute of limitations, but he was forced to resign as bishop and left Belgium under Vatican orders.

He caused outrage in 2011 when he told a Belgian TV station that he had also abused a second nephew but that he did not consider himself a paedophile.

Complete Article HERE!

‘We’re not supposed to touch,’ said Woodburn priest accused of sex abuse

The ordination of Rev. Angel Perez in 2002 was significant for two reasons: He was the rare Mexico native among priests in Oregon and, in a year when the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals were making national news, he was the rare priest ordained period in the state.

A decade ago, Oregonian reporter Shelby Oppel wrote a profile of Perez that described his ascent from a seminary student in Mexico to the archdiocese in Portland. The piece, which follows in its entirety, was published on the front page on Aug. 5, 2002.

On Monday, Perez, now the parish priest at Saint Luke Catholic Church in Woodburn, was arrested after police responded to a complaint at about 1:30 a.m. Monday alleging inappropriate contact between the priest and a 12-year-old boy.
He faces accusations of sexual abuse, use of a child in a display of sexually explicit conduct and furnishing alcohol to a minor. Perez, 46, was booked into Marion County Jail Monday evening and remains held without bail. He is scheduled to be arraigned at 3 p.m. in Marion County Circuit Court, according to the jail.

Perez is only the second priest to face criminal charges in Oregon since 1983, when the Rev. Thomas Laughlin was convicted of molesting two boys in Multnomah County.

Complete Article HERE!

South Boston priest held on child porn charges

A South Boston priest who police said had images of girls who appeared to be as young as 8 on a computer at the parish rectory is being held on bail after he pleaded not guilty today to child pornography charges.

The Rev. Andrew J. Urbaniak, 39, pastor of Our Lady of Czestochowa, a Roman Catholic church on Dorchester Avenue, was arrested yesterday afternoon on charges of possession and dissemination of child pornography following a two-month investigation by Boston and state police.

Urbaniak was held on $10,000 cash bail following his arraignment in South Boston District Court. If he makes bail, Judge Michael Bolden ordered Urbaniak to wear a GPS bracelet, have no contact with children under age 16, surrender his passport and remain in the state. He was also banned from using the Internet and will be subject to random unannounced checks of his computer.

Urbaniak, who was wearing a polo shirt at the arraignment, kept his eyes downcast while prosecutor Kate Clayman detailed the charges against him.

Urbaniak had been downloading child pornography and child sexual abuse images on a computer at the church, said Clayman, and when police arrived at the church yesterday to execute a search warrant the “computer was actively downloading files.”

Among the images police found on the computer at the parish rectory were a “prepubescent female child displaying graphic sexual activity” and “a 10-year-old girl lying on a bed fully exposed,” Clayman said.

Urbaniak’s attorney, Jeffrey Denner, told the judge, “He is a very decent man charged with very indecent activites. He doesn’t pose any danger, nor does he pose any risk of flight. He has devoted his life to good.”

Urbaniak, a Polish national, has been a priest at Our Lady of Czestochowa for four years. He has been an ordained priest for 14 years and has been in the United States since 2000.

The Archdiocese of Boston said today that Urbaniak has been placed on administrative leave.

“The Provincial Superior of his religious order in Poland has been informed of the matter,” the Archiocese added. “The Church prays for all those impacted by these events and is committed to providing for the pastoral care of the parish during this difficult time.”

Urbaniak is due back in court Aug. 31 for a probable cause hearing.

Complete Article HERE!

Rafael Venegas and Luis Jose Cuevas, Catholic Priests, Accused of Sex Crimes Against Females

At least this can be said of the pending charges against two Roman Catholic priests from Southern California parishes–including St. Athanasus Church of Long Beach: only one of the four accusers is a child and all are female. The latest case involves Father Rafael Venegas, who is accused of sexual battery against a 20-year-old woman on the grounds of his St. Anne Catholic Church in Santa Monica.

The woman, who is not a parishioner, claims the assault happened in September 2011, and the Santa Monica Police Department launched an investigation July 1.

Venegas turned himself in on Monday after the city attorney charged the priest with one count of sexual battery and one count of providing alcohol to a minor.

Venegas made his $20,000 bail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday.

Father Luis Jose Cuevas, 67, pleaded not guilty Wednesday to groping a 14-year-old girl and two women in their 20s while working at St. Athanasus, which is also where the assaults allegedly happened.

The women reported first to the archdiocese and then to Long Beach Police that they were each groped by Cuevas this past February.

Cops say that during the ensuing investigation, the teen came forward to accuse the priest of inappropriately touching “an intimate part” of her body for his sexual arousal in July 2010.

The archdiocese, which removed Cuevas from all ministry, issued a statement that was read at weekend masses indicating the Holy See considered the allegations credible and that it “takes all such matters seriously . . .”

Well, at least now it does.

What if the Catholic Church Responded to Its Sex Scandal The Way the NCAA Did to Theirs?

By Mike Rivage-Seul

Many were pleasantly surprised by the severity of the sanctions the National Collegiate Athletic Association placed on Penn State following its investigation of the Jerry Sandusky child abuse scandal. The NCAA’s measures evidenced an appropriately serious approach to unspeakable crimes. At the same time, however, the athletic association’s aggressive sanctions contrasted sharply with the lack of appropriate response to much greater crimes on the part of Roman Catholic clergy. It made some wonder what it might look like if the Catholic Church handled its infinitely larger scandal in a fashion similar to that of the NCAA.

Of course, the Penn State’s board of trustees had initially tried to defuse its shameful situation by having the institution’s president resign and by firing Joe Paterno, the football program’s legendary coach. Eventually, they even removed “Joepa’s” statue that (dis)graced the entrance way to the football stadium in Happy Valley.

But the NCAA went far beyond that — even further than most had expected. It appointed high profile Independent Counsel, Louis Freeh, to investigate responsibility for Sandusky’s crimes and the cover-up that followed. Then in the wake of Freeh’s damning final report, it fined the University $60 million dollars — the amount the football program takes in annually. It ordered the program to vacate its winnings since 1998 (thus depriving Paterno of his legacy as the winningest coach in NCAA football history). It forbade the program to extend any football scholarships for the next four years, and released all of its current players from their ties to Penn State, making them immediately eligible to play elsewhere. The football program will be devastated for years to come.

The NCAA’s bold sanctions couldn’t be further from the response of the Roman Catholic hierarchy to its child abuse scandal. There instead the “old boy” defense of the institution and the members of its all male club kicked in just as it did at first inside Penn State’s football program when the Sandusky crimes initially came to light. At Penn State, the wagons were circled, Sandusky was mildly chided while everyone in charge from the University president and Joe Paterno on down denied any knowledge or responsibility. The attitude that “boys will be boys” threatened to carry the day.

The equivalent of that attitude and (non)response still prevails within the Holy City despite the shameful involvement of priests in raping and otherwise sexually abusing children on a worldwide scale that absolutely dwarfs anything that happened in Happy Valley. In the face of thorough investigations by independent groups (e.g. the absolutely devastating indictment published last year in Ireland) the Cardinal of New York invoked the “bad apples” defense, and protested that “only” a small portion of the clergy was tainted.

But what would it have looked like if (impossibly!) the Catholic Church had responded like the NCAA?

If it had done so:

  • Pope Ratzinger would have resigned immediately.
  • All cardinals and bishops who had covered up the scandal would have been removed from office.
  • The canonization process for John Paul II would have been terminated, because of the way he down-played the sex scandal. This would be the equivalent of removing Joepa’s statue.
  • An investigation independent of the Vatican would have been launched headed by an unimpeachable figure — say the Dali Lama, perhaps joined by Sr. Pat Farrell, President of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) which is currently being investigated by the Vatican.
  • Upon completion of its investigation (assuming it would have reached conclusions similar to the one in Ireland), the commission would have:
  • Fined the Catholic Church $500 billion — the equivalent of one year of the R.C. church income. The money would be used world-wide to aid victims of sex abuse and to institute programs to educate clergy about human sexuality using the best insights of current sociology and psychology.
  • Removed from the list of genuine popes all those whose public crimes made them unworthy of the title “Vicars of Christ.” Here the Borgia popes come to mind, as well as Pope Pius XII for his silence about the Jewish Holocaust. (Obviously, the process of his canonization would be abruptly ended.) This would be the rough equivalent of Penn State’s vacating its football wins since 1998.
  • The exclusion of women from the priesthood would be reversed, and seminary scholarships would be extended world-wide to women desiring to receive Holy Orders.
  • Mandatory celibacy would of course be set aside as a requirement of the priesthood — and a major contributor to the issue at hand.
  • A reforming Church Council (Vatican III?) would be ordered to deal with the sex abuse and related problems — to be attended only by bishops not involved in the abuse scandal and subsequent cover-up. Their places would be taken by women elected by national bodies equivalent to the LCWR in the United States.

Of course, nothing like the results just described is remotely possible. Roman Catholic insulation from the external processes necessary to achieve such outcomes prevents that eventuality. The only external source capable of moving the church in the desired direction belongs to the Catholic faithful itself. It alone has the authority to withhold church attendance and contributions till the desired decisions of reform are taken.

But not to worry: such pressure from the faithful will eventually be applied willy-nilly. That is, the faithful will either wage a purposeful campaign of withholding attendance and financial support in the light of failed church leadership.

Or alternatively (and more likely) the once-faithful will be driven away from the church as the realization dawns that a college sports organization possesses sounder moral character than what pretends to be the “Mystical Body of Christ.”

Complete Article HERE!