Category Archives: Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio

Here Are the Worst Abuses by Catholic Priests from the PA Grand Jury’s Report

Here Are the Worst Abuses by Catholic Priests from the PA Grand Jury’s Report
By Hemant Mehta
https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/08/15/here-are-the-worst-abuses-by-catholic-priests-from-the-pa-grand-jurys-report/

The International Symbol for Unconvicted Pedophiles

I spent the better part of the day reading through the Pennsylvania grand jury’s report about the Catholic Church’s child abuse scandal that occurred in just six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Scranton.

That may have been a mistake. My mind is numb. I posted something brief yesterday about the document, but that was before going through the detailed accounts of what more than 300 priests did over the course of several decades. Those accounts are so much worse than the news reports indicated because they couldn’t include all these cases.

Most of the priests are dead now. Some of the stories were heavily redacted because the priests are alive and haven’t been charged with a crime. In some cases, the statute of limitations has long expired. But this was always about documenting the abuses more than anything. When you read this report and realize it’s just one group of priests in one state, you have to wonder what the stories would look like if a similar document was produced across the country, if not the world.

So brace yourself.

Here’s a running list of some of the more egregious things you’ll find in the report. It’s not everything. It’s not even everything for these priests. It’s just the stuff that will make your eyes permanently widen. The hope is that by highlighting these stories, people will realize the horrors covered up by the Catholic Church.

Maybe they’ll think twice before ever attending another Mass or donating any of their money to a Catholic school.

Maybe they’ll think twice before ever attending another Mass or donating any of their money to a Catholic school.

  • Father Francis “Frank” Fromholzer asked one girl, when she was 13 or 14, to read a story about Jesus that included the phrase, “the cock crows three times.” He made her repeat that phrase several times. When she left class, he “leaned in and nuzzled her neck and asked the victim if she knew what a cock was.”
  • Father Edward R. Graff was about to anally rape a child, but the victim ran away before it could happen, even though it meant running “into the street, mostly nude.”
  • Father Chester Gawronski fondled and masturbated at least 12 different children by saying he was just showing them “how to check for cancer.” (When one of these stories went public in 2002, Bishop Donald Trautman chastised the victim by arguing that he was only 14 when it happened, not 11 like the article said.)
  • Father William Presley abused three victims, one as young as 13, with “choking, slapping, punching, rape, sodomy, fellatio, anal intercourse,” and more.
  • Father Thomas D. Skotek raped an underage girl, got her pregnant, then paid for her abortion. His Bishop later said, “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.” That letter was addressed to Skotek, not his victim.
  • Father Edmond Parrakow admitted to molesting “approximately thirty-five male children” because sex with girls was “sinful” and raping boys didn’t violate them. One altar boy said Parrakow told them to go naked under their cassocks during Mass because God didn’t want “man-made clothes” touching their skin during services. Parrakow now works in a shopping mall.
  • Father Raymond Lukac “married” a victim the moment she turned 18 by forging the head pastor’s signature on a fake marriage certificate. He eventually married her for real, had a child with her (impregnating her when she was 17), then got a divorce. He stayed in the ministry after being taken in by a “benevolent bishop.”
  • Father Robert Moslener taught middle school kids how to give blowjobs by telling them Mary had to “bite off the cord” and “lick” Jesus clean when he was born.
  • Father Augustine Giella abused five girls in the same family. Among other things, he collected their urine, pubic hair, and menstrual blood in a device attached to his toilet… then he ingested some of it. All of this happened after he worked at a Catholic high school and had been accused of telling a student he wanted to watch her go to the bathroom.
  • Father Arthur Long tried having sex with a 17-year-old at a high school he worked at by saying God wanted them to express love for each other that way. When she said God would punish them, he told her, “there is no Hell.”
  • Father George Zirwas was part of a predatory priest “ring” that “shared intelligence” on victims and exchanged them with each other. They “manufactured child pornography” on church property, using “whips, violence and sadism in raping their victims.”
  • Father Richard Zula asked three altar boys to “pose like statues” and tried to tie them up with rope. Zula also used whips and leather straps on a victim after tying up the person’s hands.
  • Father Robert N. Caparelli raped several boys as young as 10. He was eventually put in prison, where it was discovered he “had been HIV-positive for years.”
  • Monsignor Thomas J. Benestad forced a nine-year-old boy to give him a blowjob, then washed his mouth out with holy water “to purify him.”
  • Reverend David Connell served a high school boy juice. The boy later woke up with no memory of what happened, but there was “bleeding from his rectum.”
  • Reverend Edward George Ganster once dragged a child across a room by his underwear and beat him with a metal cross. He eventually quit the priesthood… but not before receiving a letter of recommendation for his new job… at Walt Disney World.
  • Father Richard J. Guiliani began abusing one girl when she was 14, forcing her to masturbate him and blow him. When she turned 18, he visited her and asked for sex and her hand in marriage. (She declined both.)
  • Reverend Henry Paul is the reason one little girl told her mother she knew how to “French kiss.”
  • Reverend Gerald Royer once molested a 12-year-old boy. The boy’s friend didn’t believe it… until, hidden in a closet, he witnessed the abuse himself. The victim, now 83, fought in wars, yet because of what Royer did, he could never hug or kiss his own children, who were boys. He can’t shake hands with men to this day. He can’t even see male doctors or dentists.
  • Reverend Michael G. Barletta was known to take pictures in a boys’ locker room and maintained a book of “crotch shots.”
  • Father Robert E. Hannon had several male victims, but his diocese dismissed allegations from one girl after Hannon denied it. His argument? He wouldn’t have done it because girls “do not have a penis.”
  • Father Gerard Krebs, a teacher at a Catholic high school, was asked for advice by a student whose girlfriend was pregnant. Krebs conducted a prostate exam to see if the boy was “capable of impregnating a woman.” Another victim said Krebs guided him through “sexual rituals” to “prove my faith and the fact that I was not a homosexual.”
  • Monsignor Daniel Martin and other priests in the seminary had a “fierce competition,” one victim said, to molest boys who didn’t have fathers or had bad relationships with them.
  • Brother Edmundus Murphy encouraged a victim to join their Catholic school’s wrestling team and taught him different moves, naked, because that’s what “the ancient Greeks and Romans did.” During those practices, Murphy sodomized the victim.
  • Father Gregory Flohr took a victim into the confessional and tied him up with rope. When the victim screamed, Flohr shut him up by shoving his penis in the victim’s mouth. When the victim wouldn’t accept it, Flohr sodomized him with a crucifix and called him a “bad boy.”
  • Father Charles B. Guth fondled a boy and stuck his finger up the child’s ass. Then he said to the boy that if their secret ever got out, the child and his mother would both burn in hell. Then he gave the boy a nickel.
  • Father Francis Lesniak told a victim that if he confessed his sins and wasn’t too bad, he’d “get to suck on a strawberry lollipop or popsicle.” After these confessions, which happened multiple times, Lesniak would whip his dick out and say it was a strawberry lollipop.
  • Father Henry J. Marcinek is the reason one victim said as an adult, “I don’t remember the last time I laughed.” That same victim later confessed that “I peed in [Marcinek’s] mouth, because he used to cum in mine” and that he felt like he was “fricking prostituting himself” at the age of 12 or 13.
  • Father Roger J. Trott anally raped a 21-year-old man with Down Syndrome, after which the victim was reportedly hospitalized for “surgery for a blockage of the lower bowel.”
  • Reverend Francis A. Bach had so many victims, then when his diocese confronted him about a particular allegation, he said he didn’t remember it, but responded, “With my history, anything is possible.”
  • Reverend James Beeman raped a seven-year-old in the hospital just after she had “had her tonsils removed.” He raped her again when she was 19 and pregnant.
  • Reverend George Koychick inappropriately touched several little girls. When confronted about it by his diocese, he admitted it, adding, “it was when I was going through a touchy/feely time in my life.”
  • Reverend Guy Marsico admitted to molesting several boys and confessing his sins to another priest. The advice was never to call police or turn himself in. Instead, he was told to “Pray about it and try to get away from it.” Then, when it happened again, he’d receive the same advice.
  • Reverend Patrick Shannon molested a 16-year-old boy during a camping trip. When the boy resisted, Shannon replied, “Sometime [sic] we say no when we really mean yes.”
  • Reverend Timothy Sperber sexually abused a girl no older than 10. When she told the principal of their Catholic school that Sperber “touched her in weird ways,” the principal called her a “demon-child” for making those “terrible accusations.”
  • Reverend Frederick Vaughn abused an 11-year-old girl, wrestling with her on the floor at her family’s home when her father wasn’t around. One time, when she resisted, he said, “I like a fighter.”
  • Reverend Leo Burchianti once entered a bathroom with an underage boy and put his hands down the boy’s shorts. When the boy told Burchianti to stop tickling him, the response was, “I’m not trying to tickle you, I’m trying to grab for something.”
  • Reverend Anthony J. Cipolla took a 9-year-old boy to his rectory bedroom, told the child to take off his clothes, then squeezed his penis a total of 70 times before sticking a finger into his rectum. Later, even though his mother wanted to file criminal charges, she dropped them because “she was threatened and harassed by church officials” and told that she should “let the church handle it.”
  • Reverend David F. Dzermejko fondled a young boy on a Ferris wheel during a church festival. The boy couldn’t get off the ride because Dzermejko told the operator “to keep the ride going three times longer than it should have.”
  • Reverend Bernard J. Kaczmarczyk went into the shower with a 12-year-old boy under the pretext that he needed to make sure the child was “showering properly.”
  • Reverend Anujit Kumar kissed an underage girl with his tongue and sucked her lips. When Church officials asked him about it, he was he was just trying to “recruit her for the convent.”
  • [Redacted] molested a child for years. When the victim turned 15 or 16, he asked the priest to stop and threatened to go public with what had happened. The priest “grabbed him by the throat and threatened to kill him if he told anyone.” He also threatened to tell the victim’s parents he was gay.
  • Monsignor Raymond T. Schultz masturbated in front of a student at their Catholic school. Afterwards, Schultz would give the kid a handkerchief to wipe the semen off his face. To this day, the victim said, he goes from “sad to angry” whenever he sees a white handkerchief.
  • Father Robert E. Spangenberg molested an underage boy several times. He also paid the victim a “finder’s fee” if he could find other young “chickens” for Spangenberg to have sex with.
  • Reverend Paul G. Spisak supposedly took pictures with underage boys in which their swim trunks were down to their ankles. His staff says they saw the pictures… until they disappeared. Spisak may have destroyed the images. A couple of years ago, however, he was arrested for a camera he placed in a mall bathroom. At first he denied it. Then he said he was sick, ran inside a stall, and flushed the memory card down the toilet.
  • Reverend Anthony P. Conmy molested a 10-year-old girl after dropping her friend off at home. He grabbed her wrists, put his hand over her mouth, put his knee in her stomach to hold her down, then said he wouldn’t kill her if she “would lie quietly.”
  • Reverend P. Lawrence Homer told a 14-year-old girl she had the body of an 18-year-old woman. He also commented on her “sex hair.”

That’s just a sampling.

The grand jury also noted how the Church managed to cover all these crimes up as long as they did. Leaders, they said, followed a “playbook for concealing the truth” that consisted of seven steps:

  1. Use euphemisms. (“Never say “rape”; say “inappropriate contact” or “boundary issues.”)
  2. Don’t investigate with trained personnel. (Instead, let clergy members ask the victims “inadequate” questions before judging their own colleagues.)
  3. Evaluate priests at church-run “treatment centers.”
  4. Never say why a priest was removed. (Just say he’s on “sick leave” or something.)
  5. Keep providing priests with living expenses regardless of the allegations.
  6. Transfer the priests if his crime becomes public knowledge. (Send him to a place where “no one will know he is a child abuser.”)
  7. Don’t tell the police. (Keep it “in house.”)

Finally, is there any way to fix this?

Yes, said the grand jury, and they offered a few recommendations:

  • Eliminate the criminal statute of limitations. Pennsylvania law now permits victims to come forward until age 50, but the grand jury said they heard from victims who were, in some cases, in their 70s, but had no legal recourse anymore. They’ve spent their entire lives traumatized by what they went through and an arbitrary cutoff to seek justice is cruel.
  • Let victims sue the diocese in a timely manner. In many cases, victims “ran out of time to sue before they even knew they had a case.” They need a “window” of time in which to sue once they’re aware of the situation. It shouldn’t be closed off before they even know their options.
  • Laws must mandate the reporting of abuse, even in Church. There are too many loopholes in the state law that allowed churches to get away with not letting law enforcement know about what predatory priests were doing.
  • Confidentiality arguments must be tossed aside in criminal cases. The Church had them for decades. In some cases, they gave victims some money to silence them for life.

That second one is receiving criticism from some Catholics. They argue that suing the diocese — and getting money in a victory — would only hurt the parishioners who donated, not the priests who committed the acts or the others who covered it up. Though the flip side of that says… who cares? If the congregation is giving money to an organization complicit in these crimes, a lawsuit would teach them to stop donating to the church.

By the way, as of this writing, the Vatican hasn’t said anything.

Vatican press office said this morning that they have no comment on the grand jury report, and would not even say if Vatican officials have read it.

— Daniel Burke (@BurkeCNN) August 15, 2018

That says a lot, doesn’t it? Do they think people will just forget about it in a few days? An apology isn’t enough. The Church ought to be tougher on these priests than the law. They need to explain why the abuse was so pervasive and why they cover-up was so rampant. This wasn’t a bad apple. This is a rotten orchard surrounding the entire Vatican.

This is What the PA Grand Jury Learned About Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church

This is What the PA Grand Jury Learned About Sex Abuse in the Catholic Church
By Hemant Mehta
https://friendlyatheist.patheos.com/2018/08/27/this-is-what-the-pa-grand-jury-learned-about-sex-abuse-in-the-catholic-church/

"If kids got raped at Denny's as often as they get raped at church, every Denny's in the U.S. would be burned to the ground." Dan Savage

The video below, part of The Atheist Voice series, discusses the recent revelations in Pennsylvania about the Catholic Church child sex abuse scandal.

As you may have heard, a Pennsylvania grand jury recently released a report about the child sex abuse scandal in the Catholic Church. They only looked at 6 of the 8 dioceses in the state and still produced a report that was more than 1300 pages long and implicated more then 300 priests and bishops and other Catholic leaders.

Many of them are dead. Some of the stories were heavily redacted because the priests are alive and haven’t been charged with a crime. In some cases, the statute of limitations has long expired. But this was always about documenting the abuses more than anything.

When you read this report and realize it’s just one group of priests in one state, you have to wonder what the stories would look like if a similar document was produced across the country, if not the world.

And I want to tell you some of what they found. Not because it’s disturbing — and it’s really disturbing — but because this stuff had been going on for decades. The Church knew about it. They covered it up. They transferred priests to different parishes. They told families they would take care of the problem and never did.

If you are giving money to the Catholic Church, or you attend Mass, or you even call yourself a Catholic at this point, you should know what it is you’re supporting.

Here’s just a sampling. And if this is too much to take, click away now. This is your warning.

One priest fondled at least 12 different boys by saying he was just showing them “how to check for cancer.”

One priest raped an underage girl, got her pregnant, then paid for her abortion. His Bishop later wrote in a letter, “This is a very difficult time in your life, and I realize how upset you are. I too share your grief.” That letter was addressed to the priest, not his victim.

One priest admitted to molesting approximately 35 boys because sex with girls was “sinful” but raping boys didn’t violate them.

One priest tried having sex with a 17-year-old at a high school he worked at by saying God wanted them to express love for each other that way. When she said God would punish them, he told her, “there is no Hell.”

One priest forced a nine-year-old boy to give him a blowjob, then washed his mouth out with holy water “to purify him.”

There was a priest who dragged a child across a room by his underwear and beat him with a metal cross. He eventually quit the priesthood… but not before receiving a letter of recommendation from the Church for his new job… at Disney World.

One priest molested a 12-year-old boy. That victim is 83 now, and he said he’s fought in wars, but because of what that priest did to him, he could never hug or kiss his own children, who were boys. He can’t shake hands with men to this day. He can’t even see male doctors or dentists.

One priest was known to take pictures in a boys’ locker room and maintained a book of “crotch shots.”

One priest fondled a boy and stuck his finger up the kid’s ass. Then he said to the boy that if their secret ever got out, the child and his mother would both burn in hell. Then he gave the boy a nickel.

You can read more about the horrific details here.

A rough transcript of the video can be found on the YouTube page in the “About” section.

We’d love to hear your thoughts on the project — more videos will be posted soon — and we’d also appreciate your suggestions as to which questions we ought to tackle next!

And if you like what you’re seeing, please consider supporting this site on Patreon.

‘Jesus is coming to get you’: CHRISTIAN Brother’s threat to boy he abused

‘Jesus is coming to get you’: Christian Brother’s threat to boy he abused
By Debbie Cuthbertson, Simone Fox Koob, Farrah Tomazin and Chris Vedelago February 16, 2020
https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/jesus-is-coming-to-get-you-brother-s-threat-to-boy-he-abused-20200214-p540u8.html

“Jesus is coming to get you.”

That was the warning Lionel (not his real name) alleges Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer gave in an attempt to silence him after he sexually assaulted him at a Melbourne orphanage in the 1970s.

The words rang in the boy’s ears long after.

Elmer “kissed me on the forehead and said well done” after molesting him, Lionel said.

“He then told me not to tell anyone. He said to me, if you tell anyone, Jesus would come down from heaven and take me away and you will not see your family or friends ever again,” he told police.

“I was scared and really believed what he had said, that Jesus would take me away if I said anything. I was an altar boy and I believed this.

“The word ‘Jesus’ was ringing in my ears.”

The assaults continued, as did the warnings, for more than a year, Lionel said. It was a vicious circle.

“This sort of incident happened at least two to three times a week,” Lionel said in his witness statement to police. “The same sort of thing. I would piss the bed scared at night that [Elmer] would come to me. I was petrified of him. I couldn’t tell anyone because I was scared of getting a flogging and being taken away by Jesus.”

Another boy who had complained about being abused by Elmer was flogged with a cane by another brother then removed from the St Vincent de Paul Boys’ Home, Lionel said.

“He dobbed Elmer in for doing something sexual to him. It was two days later that this guy who got hit and dobbed got taken from the home.”

He said he told another boy at the home about the abuse. That boy replied that Elmer had also sexually assaulted him. “We were both scared that Jesus would come to take us,” Lionel said. “This is what we thought happened to [the boy who left].”

Lionel said he also confided in a nun from a nearby convent. “I told her what Elmer had been doing to me. She said ‘Darling, please do not say a word to anyone, I will fix this for you’.”

Soon after he confessed to her, Lionel alleges, Elmer and two other brothers brutally beat him, including with a cane, in an assault that left him bleeding from his behind and bedridden for more than a week.

While he was still recovering, Lionel said, Elmer abused him again. He punched the boy repeatedly, giving him a black eye and bloody nose after the boy vomited on the brother during the assault.

“When I spewed, he punched me in the face with a clenched fist … three or four times. I couldn’t see out of my left eye for a few days until the swelling went down. He said to me ‘Jesus is coming to get you’. This is the last time that I ever saw Elmer.”

In mid-1976, Elmer suddenly left St Vincent’s. “I don’t know what happened to Elmer, but he was gone from the home,” Lionel told police.

Lionel, now aged 59, said of the ongoing effect of his abuse: “I get teary talking about this but I have learnt to deal with it. It is always in my mind and it always hurts me.”

On Monday, Elmer pleaded guilty in the County Court to the indecent assault of two other complainants, also from St Vincent’s, in the 1970s, after which prosecutors did not proceed with charges related to Lionel’s accusations. That meant that Lionel’s witness statement was never tendered and Elmer never faced his allegations.

Court documents show the 75-year-old was charged in 2018 with 19 counts of indecent assault and one of false imprisonment in relation to three victims during the 1970s.

The first complainant, who had been in state care since infancy, told police Elmer repeatedly abused him between the ages of 11 and 13, usually while he was sleeping in a dormitory.

He said the first assault occurred when Elmer threw off his bed covers, demanded he do as he was told, and put his hand down the boy’s pyjama pants. The assault, however, was interrupted. “Someone has approached the bed as he was being assaulted by the accused, who then fled,” according to the police brief of evidence.

“The complainant was summoned to the office of the now deceased Brother in charge, Brother Carey … Shortly thereafter the complainant recalls being sexually abused by the accused on many occasions.”

The second complainant, who came to the orphanage aged seven after his parents died, was sexually abused by Elmer repeatedly between the ages of nine and 11.

On one occasion Elmer led the boy, who had been playing in the grounds of the home after school, upstairs into his private bedroom at the end of a dormitory.

Elmer produced a large book with pictures of human anatomy and made the boy sit on his knee while the brother asked him to name various body parts, including male genitalia, and masturbated against the boy’s back during the 20-minute assault.

As dormitory master at St Vincent’s, Elmer was responsible for up to 40 children at a time, aged between seven and 14.

The most senior Christian Brothers officials in Victoria knew in mid-1976, when they removed Elmer from the orphanage, that he had abused boys there.

Later that year they made Elmer principal of St Joseph’s, a Catholic boys primary school in Warrnambool.

Elmer was in charge of the school from 1976-81. He worked in the town alongside several other notorious paedophile clerics including priests Paul David Ryan and Robert Claffey, and fellow Christian Brother Edward Dowlan (all since jailed for child sexual assault).

Elmer left Warrnambool after more complaints about his behaviour at St Vincent’s reached his superiors. In 1988 he reappeared, in an article from a small Tasmanian newspaper called Western Tiers, published in his home town of Deloraine.

“Brother Rex Elmer will be spending Christmas at home with his mother … and family before leaving to go to Africa to set up a Mission School at Arushia [sic] in Tanzania with two other Christian Brothers,” the newspaper reported proudly on page 3.

“Rex was a pupil at Our Lady of Mercy College and St Patrick’s [College] and has been teaching at various schools, including Warrnambool in Victoria. He is hoping to see old school friends while at home and we all wish him well in the future.”

The school Elmer helped found in northern Tanzania is now run by the Congregation of Christian Brothers East Africa District and has more than 1300 students.

Elmer left the school in 1993 after more complaints surfaced, and was sent by his order to the United States for counselling at the St Luke Institute for paedophile Catholic clergy in Maryland.

He was charged In 1997 with 69 counts. He was convicted the next year of 12 counts: one charge of indecent assault against each of the 12 boys. The judge sentenced him to five years in prison with a minimum of three years and four months.

At his sentencing, Judge Thomas Neesham described Elmer, then 53, as a man of God who had indulged in “depraved self-gratification”, The Age reported at the time.

“Each of your victims was a small boy in your care. Each was an inmate,” he said. The boys, many of them orphans or wards of the state, were aged between eight and 12.

“They were helpless,” Judge Neesham said. “Who could they tell, who would believe them?

“All your victims wear deep emotional scars to this day as is brought out by their victim impact statements,” he said. “As a teacher and a man of God, how could you not have had an inkling of the devastation to your victims’ faith … by your act of misbehaviour.

“Your victims will have to live in the misery that you inflicted upon them … You will have to live with the disgrace that you brought on yourself and your family.”

Elmer had been living in a Christian Brothers home in Brunswick at the time of his first conviction  and was still working for the order in an administrative role. In 2002, after his release from prison, he was placed him on “restricted ministry”.

He now resides in a property owned by the order in the same suburb. His bail was extended following his guilty plea this week until his sentencing in July.

“The accused is currently retired and resides within the Christian Brothers Community,” a police brief from his current case states.

The order has received 22 claims for redress from people who allege Elmer sexually abused them as children, according to documents it provided to Austalia’s Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, which reported its findings in 2017.

Those claims all related to accusations of multiple assaults alleged to have occurred between 1969 and 1985 – from when Elmer was a novitiate (a Christian Brother in training) to the years when he worked in South Melbourne and Warrnambool, mainly during his time at St Vincent’s.

The documents also show the order knew that a number of victims had alleged that other clergy had participated in the abuse by Elmer.

Catholic Church Insurance (CCI) refused to cover the Christian Brothers in relation to any claims of abuse by Elmer after 1976, ruling the order – including its most senior cleric, then provincial Brother Patrick Naughtin – had “prior knowledge” of his crimes.

“Whilst the Visitation was in progress [13/06/1976], a Child Welfare Office reported to Brother [redacted] Acting Superior that Rex had been interfering with little boys; this was true and it had been attended to by the Provincial,” said a CCI document submitted to the royal commission.

In a letter dated June 20, 1976, Naughtin wrote to the acting superior of the orphanage: “Thank you very much for the report on the situation which developed … in connection with Br Elmer. It is indeed a serious and most unfortunate state of affairs and I am grateful for your bringing it to my attention so promptly.”

In his letter, Naughtin (who died in 2010) expressed concern for Elmer’s reputation, not for the welfare of the children he had abused. He also referenced the illegality of Elmer’s actions but did not report him to authorities.

“I have interviewed Br Elmer and discussed this position with him. He is clearly aware of the serious nature of his actions and I took pains to point out his legal and moral obligations in the matter.

“It seems to me extremely unlikely that there will be any recurrence of what had happened … It would seem to me best at this stage not to transfer Brother … immediately, though I would propose to announce his change next August – the usual time for releasing details of staffing for the following year.

“In coming to this decision I have been guided by the Brother’s assurance for the future, by his excellent record to date and by consideration for his reputation which would undoubtedly be harmed by a sudden transfer at this time.”

When Elmer left St Vincent’s he was replaced by Edward ‘Ted’ Dowlan, now one of the most notorious paedophile clerics in Victoria. They later worked together at St Joseph’s in Warrnambool.

A 1996 letter from an unnamed Christian Brother was submitted to the Victorian parliamentary inquiry in 2013 into the handling of child abuse by institutions, including religious orders. It sheds light on how widespread the abuse was at St Vincent’s, and how determined the church was to dismiss it.

“I accepted with good faith the sudden departure of Brother Elmer from the school and the appointment of Brother Dowlan to fill his position,” the letter reads. “Indeed, I spent many extra hours, which I could ill afford, assisting Brother Dowlan to understand the nature and behaviours of the boys and the teachers.

“As you are probably aware, many of St Vincent’s residents had been sexually abused, and often displayed overt and outrageous sexualised behaviour. Furthermore, they expected or requested that this behaviour be reciprocated by the adults in their lives. A major part of our endeavours at St Vincent’s was getting these boys to a point where they would expect not to be abused. Now I find that all of this work could have been compromised by the presence of a man like Brother Dowlan …

“I take note of your congregation’s position that the brothers were unaware of Brother Dowlan’s tendencies and activities. I cannot accept this as a reasonable position. I cannot believe that the number of allegations against this man could have been kept from his various communities’ and the congregation’s superiors. I find that expecting the public to believe this is preposterous. I do not believe this plea of ignorance.”

St Vincent’s orphanage closed in 1997. It was home to more than 6000 boys over 140 years.

Information provided by the Catholic Church to the royal commission showed it had received 114 claims of sexual abuse at the home, the highest number of any Catholic institution in Victoria.

The Christian Brothers declined to answer The Age’s questions about Elmer, citing “ongoing legal proceedings”.

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, beyondblue 1300 224 636, or CLAN on 1800 008 774.

Study identifies 16 child sex abuse rings in Victorian Catholic Church

Study identifies 16 child sex abuse rings in Victorian Catholic Church
By Debbie Cuthbbertson February 23, 2020
https://www.theage.com.au/national/victoria/study-identifies-16-child-sex-abuse-rings-in-victorian-catholic-church-20200215-p54158.html

Pedophile and Pedophile Pimp Cardinal George Pell

A three-year research project into paedophile Catholic clerics in Victoria has identified 16 child sex abuse networks operating over six decades involving 99 priests and Christian Brothers.

The investigation found that clergy paedophile rings shared patterns of behaviour with criminal gangs, the Mafia, terrorist cells, corrupt police, drug dealers, money launderers and price-fixing cartels.

The research showed their abuse was facilitated and reinforced by church hierarchy, including five successive archbishops of Melbourne from Daniel Mannix, appointed in 1917, through to George Pell (himself appealing against a conviction for child sex abuse) in 2001.

The researcher, Sally Muytjens, spent more than three years investigating “dark networks” of paedophile clergy in Victorian dioceses. She published the research late last year, receiving a doctorate from Queensland University of Technology.

Muytjens’ research found the largest and most active dark networks were at schools including St Alipius in Ballarat and Salesian College, Rupertswood, and orphanages including St Vincent de Paul’s in South Melbourne and St Augustine’s in Geelong.

One of the worst offenders, convicted paedophile and former Christian Brother Edward “Ted” Dowlan, was active in five of the 16 dark networks, she found.

Her study also identified Christian Brother Rex Francis Elmer as a member of two paedophile networks. The Sunday Age last week revealed that Elmer taught at Catholic schools in regional Victoria and Africa for decades after his order first knew he had abused children at a Melbourne orphanage.

In her thesis, Muytjens used a research method called social network analysis, which can reveal hidden patterns and ties between members of groups and provide insights into how they operate.

Using SNA enabled her to identify connections between clergy perpetrators and specific locations in Victoria from 1939 until 2000, unearthing what she described as a pervasive “sexual underworld” that had the potential to destroy Victorian dioceses.

Elsewhere, SNA has been used to map links between terror cells involved in the September 11, 2001, attacks and 2005 London bombings, and to track child sex trafficking networks in Britain, Italian money-laundering rackets and an Australian amphetamine trafficking ring.

It has also been employed to track the spread of contagious diseases, as well as population displacement after natural disasters.

Muytjens also drew on material from the Victorian parliamentary inquiry and the Commonwealth Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sex Abuse, victims’ advocacy group Broken Rites and media coverage of criminal trials involving clergy, to map links between clergy child sex abusers in Victoria over six decades.

Her thesis examined the responses of the Catholic Church to such criminal activity, describing the institution as a “grey network” that repeatedly facilitated abuse.

“One of these patterns was promoting known clergy perpetrators of child sex abuse to senior positions which not only provided further access to victims but also placed them in positions where they were better able to protect the dark network from exposure,” she wrote.

The code of silence among Catholic clergy in Victoria mirrored patterns of behaviour exhibited by groups including crooked police and the Mafia, Muytjens added, and that “extended to a refusal to give evidence to the police”. “Similar methods were utilised by clergy perpetrator networks within the Victorian Catholic Church to maintain silence.”

Documented clusters of paedophile clergy, including at St Alipius Boys’ School in Ballarat in the 1970s, showed they were “conducting illicit activity in an organised and co-operative way”,  Muytjens wrote.

Dowlan and notorious paedophile priest Gerald Ridsdale both had multiple convictions for sexually abusing children, including at St Alipius. Another four clergymen were each part of least two different clusters of abusers at different times, Muytjens found.

“Some [clergy] committed child sex abuse at institutions where they were the only known dark network actor … [but] they were also transferred to parishes where there were clusters of other known clergy perpetrators.

“These perpetrators were part of multiple clusters at different times … As [Ridsdale and Dowlan] were prolific perpetrators, it can be reasonably argued that [they] were transferred out of clusters when subject to complaints of child sex abuse but were returned to clusters where they could be better supported and protected through stronger ties.

“Fr Ridsdale and Br Dowlan’s movement between clusters … [and] the number of convictions for these two clergy perpetrators demonstrates the unfettered access they had to child victims.”

The church’s pattern of response to complaints of child sex abuse by its clerics functioned as a resource for the paedophile rings, Muytjens found.

“Members of the sexual underworld support one another in seeking positions of responsibility by praising one another and condemning any critics … this sexual underworld is so pervasive that acknowledging and addressing this may destroy a Diocese,” she wrote.

Drawing on research from around the world into child sex abuse by Catholic clerics, she said the data showed that “clergy perpetrators … were placed in roles of recruiting boys to the priesthood”.

Muytjens’ thesis was completed around the same time as an investigation by The Age revealed that clusters of paedophile priests in Victoria worked together to sexually abuse children, including at Melbourne’s Corpus Christi seminary.

Her research was supervised by UTQ School of Justice criminologists Dr Jodi Death and Associate Professor Mark Lauchs. Lauchs’ research has focused on organised crime and corruption, while Death has also mapped paedophile networks of Catholic clergy, including among the Christian Brothers in Western Australia.

Associate Professor David Bright, a criminologist and clinical psychologist who has worked with convicted sex offenders, has used social network analysis extensively in his research, mainly in relation to drug trafficking and terrorism.

He said SNA was an effective tool for displaying links between overlapping abusers in the church: “The clustering that Sally found, it’s quite persuasive in that what it’s suggesting is that there were clusters of offenders in institutions and that this is the case more so in some than others.

“It strikes me that either these individuals were incredibly good at manipulating the system to be at the same facility … or the system was just so negligent about this and turned such a blind eye and was so convinced that these things weren’t going on that it just allowed it to continue.”

The Christian Brothers Oceania Province and the Catholic Archdiocese of Melbourne were approached for comment on Muytjens’ findings.

“The Christian Brothers co-operated fully with both the royal commission and the Victorian parliamentary inquiry which undertook exhaustive work into the failures of our institution and countless others that enabled the tragic and unacceptable abuse of children and how such abuse was not properly responded to … we reiterate our enduring apology to those who have been harmed as a result,” said a spokesman.

A spokesman for the archdiocese said: “The issue of historical sexual abuse, across all institutions including the Catholic Church, has been extensively and comprehensively documented in the Victorian parliamentary inquiry and the royal commission. The recommendations from these inquiries, coupled with ongoing institutional reform, have helped bring justice and more effective redress for victims.

“Whilst we believe our parishes and schools are safer than ever, we remain vigilant and committed to ensure our practices, processes and policies deliver a safe environment for everyone.”

If you or anyone you know needs support, you can contact the National Sexual Assault, Domestic and Family Violence Counselling Service on 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732), Lifeline 131 114, or beyondblue 1300 224 636.

Deaf Argentine victims of clergy sexual abuse protest at Vatican

Deaf Argentine victims of clergy sexual abuse protest at Vatican
By Philip Pullella February 21, 2020
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-pope-abuse-idUSKBN20F2KZ

VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Victims of sexual abuse by Catholic priests at a school for the deaf in Argentina staged a protest at the Vatican on Friday to bring attention to an upcoming trial of more alleged abusers.

Last November a court in the province of Mendoza convicted two priests and the former gardener at a Catholic Church-run school on 28 counts of sexual abuse and corruption of minors.

Trials for about 10 others who worked at the Antonio Provolo Institute for the deaf, including teachers and a nun, are expected to start in a few months. They are accused of abetting the abuse by the priests.

About 20 people, including several former students, held up signs reading “Zero Tolerance,” “Don’t Forget,” and “We Are Not Going Away” in front of the building housing the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine for the Faith, which handles abuse cases. The victims’ lawyers and other victims of abuse were among those who joined the protest.

“Church officials in Argentina are not cooperating with civil authorities and not cooperating with prosecutors concerning the rape and sexual abuse of dozens of deaf children in Argentina,” Peter Isely, a founder of the advocacy group Ending Clergy Abuse (ECA), told Reuters at the demonstration.

The case in Argentina and a similar one at a school for the deaf in Italy have prompted outrage because of the particular vulnerability of the children and their difficulty in communicating about the crimes.

ECA and several other groups of victims traveled to Rome to mark the first anniversary of a Church summit on sexual abuse at the Vatican.

They say Pope Francis and Vatican officials have not done enough to make bishops and other members of the Catholic Church hierarchy accountable for the cover-up of sexual abuse.

The two priests convicted in last November’s trial were given sentences of 42 and 45 years in prison respectively while the school employee was given 18 years. They are appealing the ruling.

The Catholic Church around the world is still struggling to come to grips with the worldwide crisis, most of which involves cases of abuse that happened decades ago.

It has devastated the Church’s credibility and dented its coffers. About two dozen dioceses in the United States alone have filed for bankruptcy because of mounting lawsuits.

A number of U.S. states have also changed statutes of limitations law enabling victims to file for damages for abuse that occurred decades ago.

Survivors stunned after Bishop Scharfenberger celebrates Mass with abusive priests

Survivors stunned after Bishop Scharfenberger celebrates Mass with abusive priests
By Charlie Specht
https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/survivors-stunned-after-bishop-scharfenberger-celebrates-mass-with-abusive-priests

Never trust a person who can clear their conscience of any immoral act by asking forgiveness from their imaginary friend

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Survivors of sexual abuse by priests in the Diocese of Buffalo reacted with outrage and despair Tuesday to news that interim Bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger celebrated Mass the day before with multiple priests the diocese admits are credibly accused of child sexual abuse.

Scharfenberger invited priests of the diocese to Mass and lunch at St. Leo the Great in Amherst on Monday. At the Mass, dozens of priests dressed in robes and concelebrated, or shared the Mass and Eucharist with, the Rev. Fabian J. Maryanski.

“I’m so very sad and confused today,” said Stephanie McIntyre, who said she was abused by Maryanski starting when she was 15 years old. “This is an all time low moment that hit me just when I thought I was ready to begin healing.”

Maryanski had been accused of abusing McIntyre decades ago at a parish in Barker, and he denied the allegations. But on Jan. 7, 2019, the diocese included both Maryanski and the Rev. Mark J. Wolski on its official list of “priests with substantiated allegations of child sexual abuse.”

Diocesan leaders previously said the priests’ cases would go to the Vatican, which makes the final decision on whether to defrock pedophile priests. A priest who attended the Mass on Monday told 7 Eyewitness News that both men — Maryanski and Wolski — were present, with Maryanski concelebrating the service and Wolski saying the convocation, or prayer, before the catered lunch. In 2018, a man said Wolski abused him from 1968 to 1970 while he was between 15 and 17 years old.

McIntyre said she started to cry and had “a total meltdown” upon hearing the news of Scharfenberger allowing Maryanski to concelebrate the Mass with dozens of other priests.

“[It] feels like justice was ripped away,” McIntyre said. “If the proof of my case doesn’t beg for justice, no victim will ever have justice.”

In a written statement released Tuesday afternoon, Scharfenberger said the gathering “was a private Mass…not open to the public” and added, “I deeply regret that this decision to gather privately in prayer and penance opened the door to yet another wound for those harmed.” Read Scharfenberger’s full statement here.

Also present at the Mass, according to the priest, was the Rev. Art Smith, who has been accused of sexually abusing multiple children (he denies the claims) as well as allegedly assaulting Fr. Ryszard Biernat while Biernat was a seminarian.

Biernat said Smith approached him Monday at the priest luncheon and began making bizarre comments.

“He asked if there could be mediation between me and him because ‘he never wanted to hurt me – he just wanted to show me how much he loved me and how much he cared for me,'” Biernat wrote on Facebook. “He said that he still loves me and it is all misunderstanding. I said to him that there is no misunderstanding. If you go into somebody’s bed and climb under the sheets and grab their genitals and kiss their neck there’s no misunderstanding there.”

Biernat wrote that when he worked as Bishop Richard J. Malone’s secretary, Biernat planned to apply for a restraining order against Smith because the priest kept contacting him after the alleged assault, but Biernat said Malone discouraged him from doing so.

“I have forgiven Art Smith, but to continue to hear how much he loves me and cares about me gets me so upset and angry,” Biernat wrote. “Why doesn’t he understand that this type of love is not OK? Why doesn’t he understand that this is not how you show that you care about somebody? 16 years after being sexually assaulted I still deal with this guy who would not let go. Sixteen years later I lay in bed and it feels like I am there again…”

Biernat said Bishop Scharfenberger was joined on the altar by Auxiliary Bishop Edward Grosz, Msgr. Robert Zapfel and the Rev. Joseph Gatto, who was accused by multiple men of sexual misconduct. Gatto denied the allegations but acknowledged spending time at a church “treatment center” in Canada.

He was returned to ministry by Malone last year, but the bishop reversed the appointment after outrage by parents. Since then, Zapfel has quietly allowed him to assume a position as parochial vicar at St. Leo’s in Amherst.

‘Church is no longer a safe place:’ State prison for local priest in indecent assault of girl

‘Church is no longer a safe place:’ State prison for local priest in indecent assault of girl
By Sarah Cassi
https://www.lehighvalleylive.com/allentown/2020/02/church-is-no-longer-a-safe-place-state-prison-for-priest-in-indecent-assault-of-girl.html

Kevin Lonergan, center, seen here on June 8, 2014, as he celebrated his first mass at St. Patrick’s Church in Pottsville, Pa.Andy Matsko/The Republican-Herald via AP | For lehighvalleylive.com

A former Allentown priest was sentenced Monday to state prison for the indecent assault of a girl he met through his city parish.

Lehigh County Judge Maria Dantos noted it was a maximum sentence of one to two years in state prison for 31-year-old Kevin Lonergan, who has been free on bail in the case since he was charged.

Lonergan pleaded guilty in November to indecent assault of the girl, who was 17 at the time.

In addition to commending the bravery of the teen girl who came forward, Dantos took note of a prior accusation against Lonergan in another county.

In that incident, Lonergan was accused of molesting a 15-year-old girl, Chief Deputy District Attorney Matt Falk said. But the girl and her family did not cooperate with an investigation and the case stalled, Falk said during Monday’s hearing.

Lonergan was transferred to Allentown, a practice Dantos railed against as she hit her bench in the courtroom.

The Catholic church’s practice of transferring priests accused of misconduct came to light in the 1980s and continues more than three decades later, the judge said.

“There’s plenty of blame to go around, most of it on your shoulders,” the judge said to Lonergan.

The diocese in a prepared statement disputed Dantos’ characterization of what happened with the previous allegation.

“Regarding statements made in court, it is not accurate to say that the Diocese improperly transferred a priest who had committed an offense. Father Lonergan received a new assignment in 2016 only after Northampton County Children and Youth determined that the accusation was unfounded,” the statement said. “The Diocese took immediate action upon receiving the information on this previous allegation. Father Lonergan was forbidden from ministry, and the Diocese reported the allegation to law enforcement under its zero tolerance policy.”

The victim and her parents described a life of service to the Catholic church, and how the community built around their faith made the church a constant in their lives.

The victim described the rage she felt and the sleepless nights after the incidents with Lonergan, and the repercussions she and her family have dealt with since she reported the crime to authorities.

In one instance, a relative of Lonergan’s contacted the victim through social media, and offered her money to drop the case.

“I can feel your strength. Sometimes that’s not always an easy burden to bear, to be strong,” the judge said.

The victim’s mother and father described their devout faith, of raising their daughter in a church and community they trusted, and how church became a place of good memories and comfort.

“Church is no longer a safe place,” the victim’s mother said, adding that Mass is torturous for her and she cannot walk into a church without crying. “Kevin Lonergan’s actions have taken away my sense of security, my belief system.”

Since the charges were filed, the family has been isolated, and did not hear from their fellow parishioners or any priests.

“The church that we so believed in abandoned us,” the mother said.

Lonergan was assigned to St. Francis of Assisi Church on 11th Street in Allentown, when he met the accuser in August 2017.

He got her cellphone number from another member of the church and communicated with her, mostly via Snapchat, through January 2018, the district attorney previously said. The messages included nude photos of Lonergan and one video, Dantos said.

In February 2018, Lonergan hugged the victim at church — she attempted to pull away, but he pulled her closer and grabbed her rear over her clothes, prosecutors said.

After the victim told another priest of the assault in June 2018, the diocese reported it to the DA’s office and Lonergan was immediately suspended from public ministry.

A family friend of Lonergan’s spoke of Lonergan “humbling” himself to work at his Pottsville auto dealership. When the man said the accusations against Lonergan didn’t seem to fit, the judge stopped him.

Dantos said Lonergan pleaded guilty, and that the presumption of innocence was gone. She then told the man to take a seat, and none of the other supporters in the audience spoke.

Lonergan, in his statement to the court, did say he was guilty, of the crime, of stealing the victim’s dignity, and of the pain suffered by his family.

Lonergan asked for forgiveness, and said he would “never forgive myself for what I have done.”

Lonergan was a priest for five years, and was previously assigned to St. Jane Frances de Chantal in Palmer Township from June 2014 to May 2016. Monsignor Stephen Radocha previously said there were no credible allegations made against Lonergan while he was assigned to St. Jane’s.

A concern was raised about him in 2016 by a third party, but Northampton County Children and Youth investigated and determined that concern to be unfounded, the monsignor said.

“The Diocese offers its heartfelt prayers to the victim, to her family, and to everyone who was hurt as the result of Father Lonergan’s actions,” the Diocese of Allentown said in a released statement. “From the beginning of this case, the Diocese followed its protocols to the letter, and will continue to do so. Bishop Alfred Schlert removed Father Lonergan from ministry and immediately notified law enforcement on the day the allegations were made.”

Lonergan will not return to ministry. Now that the criminal case is finished, the diocese will submit the case to the Vatican.

After the hearing, and asked about a possible appeal, defense attorney Eric Prock said he still needs to discuss possible next steps with his client, but that all options are on the table.

FBI ramping up its Buffalo Diocese investigation

FBI ramping up its Buffalo Diocese investigation
Interviews sex abuse victim in another state
By Charlie Specht
https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/fbi-ramping-up-its-buffalo-diocese-investigation

The FBI is pursuing a “wide-ranging” investigation of the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo and its role in covering up clergy sexual abuse over decades, according to news reports and three sources who have spoken to federal agents.

The Buffalo News first reported Friday that agents have spoken with multiple victims of clergy sexual abuse in Buffalo, even though many of the alleged sex crimes happened decades ago. The victims said agents are interested in proving historical and ongoing cover-ups perpetuated by Buffalo Diocese leaders, according to The News.

“They’re really looking for proof of a cover-up,” Nicole Delisio Wright, an advocate for victims of clergy abuse, told The News. “Any type of proof that there’s a widespread cover-up.”

Wright previously confirmed to 7 Eyewitness News that she was interviewed by federal agents. Two other sources also confirmed that they were interviewed by agents from the bureau, who asked about specific cases of sexual abuse and the way the diocese handled them.

Stephanie McIntyre, a victim of alleged sexual abuse by Fr. Fabian Maryanski, recently spoke with federal agents from her home in another state, she also confirmed Friday. McIntyre has been offered a $400,000 settlement from the diocese for the alleged abuse.

“With the encouragement of others who are helping to fight for justice, along with lots of prayer, I realized that I had both a moral and civil obligation to do this,” McIntyre told 7 Eyewitness News of her interview with the FBI. “I believe I was able to offer them information that will be very instrumental. I continue to pray that my suffering, my story, will help others to be able to obtain the transformational justice that they need and deserve in order to pick up the pieces of their lives and move forward.”

FBI spokeswoman Maureen P. Dempsey said, “The FBI cannot confirm or deny any matter that may fall under its investigative purview unless and until it is made public through a court filing or press announcement.”

Buffalo Diocese spokeswoman Kathy Spangler did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

7 Eyewitness News featured McIntyre’s story in September in Part 3 of its investigation into Bishop Malone. Maryanski first met McIntyre in 1984 when he was the pastor at St. Patrick’s Church in Barker. The Buffalo News reported her story in May, when Maryanski was still in active ministry at Nativity church in Clarence despite the allegations.

McIntyre, in a letter she sent to Bishop Malone in April, said the priest abused her for seven years, beginning when she was 15 years old. Maryanski maintains she was in her 20s at the time.

“My abuser not only robbed me of my youthful innocence,” she wrote, “but he destroyed my family.”

McIntyre hired a lawyer and reported the abuse to the diocese in 1995 but said she “was not offered one iota of help to deal with the fallout from Fr. Maryanski’s actions.”

Church documents show the diocese considered placing Maryanski on the list of 42 accused priests in March but officials concluded, “We did not remove him from ministry despite full knowledge of the case, and so including him on list might require explanation.”

The diocese withheld Maryanski’s name from the list and has still not included him on a list of credibly accused priests.

KEY LINKS IN THE BUFFALO DIOCESE SEX ABUSE SCANDAL:

Part 1 of the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team investigation revealed that Malone returned Fr. Art Smith to ministry despite allegations of inappropriate contact with a child. Malone returned the accused priests to ministry after a previous bishop suspended him, documents obtained by the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team show.

Part 2 revealed that Malone allowed Fr. Robert Yetter to remain pastor of St. Mary’s in Swormville despite multiple sexual harassment allegations by young men. 

Part 3 cited church records that showed more than 100 priests in the diocese were accused of sexual abuse or misconduct. Malone in March released a list of only 42 priests “who were removed from ministry, were retired, or left ministry after allegations of sexual abuse of a minor.”

The investigative series sparked Buffalo civic leaders to call for Malone’s resignation and Catholics have mounted weekly protests in front of the Diocese of Buffalo Chancery. Malone in August held a news conference and refused to resign as Buffalo bishop.

In September, the State Attorney General launched a statewide investigation into sexual abuse in the Catholic Church and last week, it was revealed the FBI has launched its own criminal investigation into the diocese.

In October, “60 Minutes” aired a national investigative story on Bishop Malone and the Diocese of Buffalo. 

In November, I-Team Chief Investigator Charlie Specht traveled to Portland, Maine. Malone served as bishop there before coming to Buffalo. There, Charlie spoke with advocates for victims of sexual abuse about how Malone had been accused of mishandling sex abuse cases. The I-Team also obtained new documents surrounding the cases which paint a much different picture of the bishop’s past.

Facing 250 sex abuse lawsuits, Diocese of Buffalo declares bankruptcy

Facing 250 sex abuse lawsuits, Diocese of Buffalo declares bankruptcy
Second diocese in New York to file
By Charlie Specht and Eileen Buckley
https://www.wkbw.com/news/i-team/facing-250-sex-abuse-lawsuits-diocese-of-buffalo-declares-bankruptcy

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — The Catholic Diocese of Buffalo, which is facing nearly 250 lawsuits involving clergy sexual abuse, has declared bankruptcy.

Aside from the obvious financial implications, the diocese’s formal Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing means that many of the victims of clergy sexual abuse may not anytime soon get the answers that have long been hidden in secret diocesan archives regarding pedophile priests.

But there is still a chance that those hidden files could be forced as part of a bankruptcy settlement, as has happened in other dioceses.

Because the cases will soon be shifted from state civil court to U.S. Bankruptcy Court, survivors of clergy sexual abuse are likely to receive compensation, though it is unclear how much per case the diocese would be required to pay out.

According to bankruptcy documents, filed in federal court, the Buffalo Diocese is facing between $50 million and $100 million in estimated liability.

Apostolic Administrator Bishop Edward Scharfenberger appeared in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Buffalo Friday morning just hours after filing for Chapter 11 protection for the Diocese of Buffalo.

Scharfenberger later appeared at a news conference at the diocese with attorneys.

“I’m careful not to use the word bankruptcy, even though we are in a bankruptcy court, because a lot of people are under the impression that the diocese is running out of money – we can’t meet our obligations to our employees – which is not true,” Scharfenberger told reporters.

According to the court filing the diocese owes $3.5 million to a list of 20 top creditors. M&T Bank tops the list at $1.6 million, but the other 19 are victims who filed child sexual abuse lawsuits against the diocese. But there are actually more tahn 250 cases filed against the diocese.

U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Carl Bucki held what he called an “emergency hearing” hours after the filing.

Bucki called the bankruptcy an “extraordinary process”.

The judge asked if priests with substantiated allegations against them are being paid by the diocese.

7 Eyewitness Nee asked that question at the news conference with attorney Steve Donato responding.

“To the extent that there is a claim owned to a clergy on substantiated abuse list, which is on the website, to the extend that there were any funds owed to them as of today due prior to the filing — those will not be paid,” replied Donato.

Bishop Scharfenberger says Catholic schools and parishes are not part of bankruptcy filing.

“The health of the diocese is in the health of it’s parishes and the same with catholic charities and other affiliated agencies – they are not involved in this,” responded Scharfenberger.

The bishop says no parish donations will be touched and remain separate from bankruptcy.

“But not for the purposes of doing settlements — in other words – no money comes out of collections in order to resolve claims,” Scharfenberger remarked.

The bishop says the filing is “not a stunt” to deflect from the lawsuits filed against the church.

The next bankrupcty court hearing is schedueld for March 26th at 10 a.m.

The bankruptcy means the church could be forced to sell properties and to make appeals for more money from parishioners, but it also paves the way for the Catholic Church in Western New York to — after its debts are paid off — emerge from the crisis with its mission and services still intact.

The dramatic move comes after the Diocese of Rochester became the first Roman Catholic diocese in New York State to file for bankruptcy on Sept. 12.

It is no doubt one result of the Child Victims Act, which was passed in January 2019 and allows victims of child sexual abuse in all institutions — not only the Catholic Church — a one-year “window” period in which they can sue the institutions to prove they were responsible for the abuse.

To date, more than 300 Child Victims Act lawsuits have been filed in Western New York.

At least 250 lawsuits allege abuse by clergy or employees in the Diocese of Buffalo, making the diocese the most-sued entity in all of New York State under the new law.

In December, Bishop Richard J. Malone resigned after an investigation of his leadership by the Vatican. Revelations about his behind-the-scenes efforts to conceal sexual misconduct came to light after his two secretaries, Siobhan O’Connor and Fr. Ryszard Biernat, became whistleblowers and provided documents and audio recordings to 7 Eyewitness News.

On Feb. 4, interim bishop Edward B. Scharfenberger announced the closure of Christ the King Seminary, citing financial pressures.

There was growing pressure for Malone to resign since August 2018, when the 7 Eyewitness News I-Team revealed that Malone:

The pressure on Malone intensified in September of last year, when the I-Team published secret audio recordings where Malone attempted to conceal sexual misconduct allegations involving Rev. Jeffrey Nowak. Malone called the priest “dangerous” but allowed him to remain pastor of Our Lady Help of Christians for more than six months with no notification to parishioners.

The diocese is also under investigation by the FBI and the State Attorney General.

Legion of Christ vows better abuse response amid new sex abuse scandal, cover-up

Legion of Christ vows better abuse response amid new sex abuse scandal, cover-up
By Nicole Winfield
https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/02/28/legion-christ-vows-better/

Vatican City • The Legion of Christ religious order is promising accountability and transparency after damaging new revelations of sex abuse and cover-up that have undermined its credibility, a decade after revelations of its pedophile founder disgraced the order.

The Legion vowed to investigate the confirmed cases of past abuse by 33 priests and 71 seminarians. The Mexico-based order said it would reach out to the victims, publish the names of those found guilty of abuse in either a church or a state court, and punish superiors responsible for “gross negligence” in the handling of abuse accusations.

The measures described in a statement late Wednesday were responding to a burgeoning new scandal involving the order. The Vatican took over the Legion 10 years ago following revelations that its late founder, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, raped his seminarians, fathered at least three children and built a secretive, cultlike order to hide his double life.

Recent revelations have shown the Legion’s abuse problem went far beyond Maciel. Newly public cases exposed generational chains of abuse and high-level cover-up by superiors who are still in power. The cases indicated that the Vatican envoy who was tasked with reforming and purifying the order was part of the cover-up.

In its statement, the Legion officially retracted the yearslong campaign it mounted to defame and discredit the original group of men who went public in the 1990s to accuse Maciel. The Legion begged their forgiveness and admitted it hadn’t made reparations to them all.

But the Legion’s statement included no specific promises to compensate the original victims or any other abuse survivors, saying only that it was prepared to pay for “necessary therapy” and other assistance.

As a result, former Legionaries and victims dismissed the measures as mere damage control. The Legion made reparation pledges in the past but did not follow through on them. The order also vowed before to change course, but Maciel’s old guard remains in power.

The Rev. Christian Borgogno, a former Legion priest who co-founded a Facebook group about the order, noted that most of the new measures merely conform to what the rest of the church does. In addition, he noted that the Legion is only promising to publish names of convicted abusers, not those who have been credibly accused, as dioceses and religious orders in the U.S. and Chile do.

“Essentially, they’re presenting as a tremendous step forward standards that are obsolete compared to the current practice in the church,“ he wrote.

The measures were contained in two new documents approved by the Legion’s leadership, which has been meeting in Rome for several weeks to elect new leaders and set policy decisions. They were presented by the Rev. John Connor, an American who was elected superior general in a shift from the Mexican control of the order that dated from its 1941 founding in Mexico.