Tag Archives: Roman Catholic Church

Catholic Church spent $10 million on lobbyists in fight to stymie priest sex abuse suits

Catholic Church spent $10 million on lobbyists in fight to stymie priest sex abuse suits
The money was spent in eight northeastern states where bills to aid victims of clerical sex abuse were in the works.
By Corky Siemaszko
https://www.nbcnews.com/news/us-news/catholic-church-spent-10-million-lobbyists-fight-stymie-priest-sex-n1013776

The U.S. Catholic Church spent $10.6 million on lobbyists to prevent victims of clerical sex abuse from suing for damages.

According to a new report, the money was doled out from 2011 through 2018 in eight northeastern states where bills to reform statute of limitations laws were either in the works or being considered.

“This report lays out what we have known all along — that the Catholic Church refuses to take responsibility for the decades of abuse that took place knowingly under its watch,” said attorney Stephen Weiss, who works for one of the law firms that commissioned the study.

“Statute of limitations reforms give survivors more time to obtain some measure of closure on the atrocities committed against them,” attorney Gerald Williams added. “The church has yet to implement meaningful reforms, and by working to prevent these laws from passing, the church is clearly demonstrating that it does not stand with survivors.”

In Pennsylvania, where currently victims of child sex abuse can come forward with criminal allegations until the age of 50 and can file civil claims until age 30, the church spent $5,322,979 to keep those limitations in place, according to the report, “Church Influencing State: How the Catholic Church Spent Millions Against Survivors of Clergy Abuse.”

The report was commissioned by Seeger Weiss LLP, Williams Cedar LLC, Abraham Watkins and the Simpson Tuegel Law Firm, which collectively represent 300 survivors of clergy sex abuse nationwide. The data in the report was obtained from public filings in the individual states.

Attorney General Josh Shapiro, whose blockbuster grand jury report last year identified 301 “predator priests” in six dioceses who were alleged to have abused more than 1,000 children, has been leading the charge to lift those statutes of limitations.
“The extensive lobbying by the Catholic Church in Pennsylvania against the reforms recommended by the Grand Jury proves what I have said all along: the Church cannot be trusted to police itself,” Shapiro said. “It’s reprehensible that the Church continues to spend significant sums of money fighting these reforms, instead of protecting and supporting the victims of clergy sexual abuse.”

The Pennsylvania Catholic Conference and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops did not return an NBC News request for comment.

In New York, the church spent $2,912,772 in what ultimately was a failed bid to prevent the passage of the Child Victims Act, which Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed into law on Feb. 14. It allows child sexual abuse victims to sue their abuser or institutions until age 55. Previously the cutoff was age 23.

Of that money, 80 percent went to the Catholic Conference Policy Group Inc., which was tasked with lobbying on “statute of limitations, legislative issues and liability issues,” the report found.

“I think it’s incredibly troubling that parishioners who on Sundays contributed to the church collections may have been inadvertently funding lobbying efforts against victims of sex abuse seeking legal redress,” New York State Sen. Brad Hoylman, who championed the Child Victims Act, said. “Three million dollars that went for lobbying could have done a lot of good elsewhere, including soup kitchens, after-school programs for children, support for seniors. In my district, a Catholic school that is closing might perhaps have stayed open if that money had been used for better causes.”

Shortly before the New York state Legislature took up the Child Victims Act, Cardinal Timothy Dolan called in an op-ed published in The New York Daily News for measures that would avoid “breaking” the Roman Catholic Church.

In an email to NBC News, Dennis Poust, a spokesman for the New York State Catholic Conference, said: “All of our lobbying activity is reported as required by law to the Joint Commission on Public Ethics and has always been publicly available.”

“As far as the Child Victims Act, while we did raise concerns about the one-year look back, ultimately when sponsors amended the bill at our request to provide an opportunity for recourse to survivors in public institutions, the Catholic Conference dropped its opposition this year,” he wrote.

When asked for comment, New York Diocese spokesman Joseph Zwilling referred NBC News to Poust.

In Connecticut, where advocates for victims of priest sex abuse are presently pushing for the elimination of statutes of limitations for major sex crimes, the church spent $875,261, according to the report.

The report also said the church spent $633,458 in New Jersey where Gov. Phil Murphy last month signed legislation that allows child victims to sue up until they turn 55 or “within seven years of their first realization that the abuse caused them harm,” according to The Associated Press.

During that time period, the church spent $537,551 in Massachusetts, $124,260 in Maine, and $61,961 in Rhode Island.

“That is completely inaccurate,” said James Driscoll, executive director of the Massachusetts Catholic Conference. “I have no idea where the writer of this report came up with this figure. They never checked with me for any input before they wrote this report.”

And in New Hampshire, where legislation to lift or amend the statute of limitations has yet to be introduced, the church has spent $134,345, according to the report.

Tom Bebbington, a spokesman for the Diocese of Manchester, said it “advocates before the state legislature on issues of importance for the good of all citizens including abortion, assisted suicide, education, preventing human trafficking, and repeal of the death penalty.”

“The services of lobbying professionals were used during the time period of this report for advocacy on all of these issues and more, but no lobbyist was engaged to advocate on behalf of the Diocese on statute of limitations legislation,” he insisted.

David Clohessy, the former director of the Survivor Network of those Abused by Priests, or SNAP, said church funds should never be used to fight clerical abuse victims.

“It’s appalling that parishioners’ donations are used to keep child sex crimes — and those who committed and concealed them — covered up,” said Clohessy. “There’s no better indication of how bishops think and act than where they put their flocks’ funds. And there are few more egregious and reckless ways to spend churchgoers’ contributions than to put their kids at risk by fighting secular reforms that help expose predators.”

Asked if he believes the church was willing to spend that kind of money on lobbyists because it feared payouts for victims would cost 10 times more, Weiss said that appears to be the case.

“The church made the soulless decision to spend 10 million of its dollars to evade its responsibility to those harmed by clergy abuse, rather that use those funds toward the healing process,” he said. “Clearly these expenditures were aimed at protecting the church’s financial interests, not at doing the right thing.”

The Apostles who went on the First Crusade — FromRome.Info

by Br. Alexis Bugnolo The First Crusade was the most glorious military undertaking in the history of Christianity. It was such because it was the first to internationally testify to the faith of the Church in using military forces for a work of mercy: to restore the order of justice, the rights of the Christian […]

The Apostles who went on the First Crusade — FromRome.Info

This assclown Roman Catholic says that what his fellow Roman Catholic butchers did during their First Crusade? Was their military forces for a work of mercy, to restore the order of justice, the rights of the Christian faith, the mercy to persecuted Christians.

THIS ASSCLOWN ROMAN CATHOLIC PRAISES HIS HISTORICAL ROMAN CATHOLICS AND THEIR MASS SLAUGHTER, THEIR CANNIBALISATION OF PEOPLE, THEIR BUTCHERY OF WOMEN AND CHILDREN.

REALLY? APARENTLY THIS ASSHOLE CHRISTOFASCIST TALBAN CATHOLIC? APPROVES OF BUTCHERY AND MURDER AND CANNIBALISM HUH?

NOW? LET’S TAKE A REAL LOOK AT WHAT THESE SCUMBAG CHRISTOSHITSTAINS ON THE UNDERWEAR OF HUMANITY ACTUALLY DID IN THEIR BRUTAL BUTCHERY OF THEIR CRUSADES TO JERUSALEM SHALL WE?

The Siege of Jerusalem took place from June 7 to July 15, 1099, during the First Crusade. The climax of the First Crusade, the successful siege saw the Crusaders take Jerusalem from the Fatimid Caliphate and laid the foundations for the Kingdom of Jerusalem.

The siege is notable for the mass slaughter of Muslims and Jews perpetrated by the Christian crusaders, which contemporaneous sources suggest was savage and widespread

On 7 June, the crusaders reached Jerusalem, which had been recaptured from the Seljuqs by the Fatimids only the year before. Many Crusaders wept upon seeing the city they had journeyed so long to reach.[13] As with Antioch, the Crusaders put the city to a siege, in which the crusaders themselves probably suffered more than the citizens of the city, due to the lack of food and water around Jerusalem. The city was well-prepared for the siege, and the Fatimid governor Iftikhar ad-Daula had expelled most of the Christians. Of the estimated 5,000 knights who took part in the Princes’ Crusade, only about 1,500 remained, along with another 12,000 healthy foot-soldiers (out of perhaps as many as 30,000). Early in the siege, some low-class knights claimed to have been visited by Adhemar, the papal legate for the crusade, who recently died of typhus after the Siege of Antioch. They claimed that this would be similar to the Battle of Jericho, and that he instructed them to march around the city walls barefoot. They did so for a few days, singing holy chants. After this Peter the Hermit held religious sermons in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, in the Garden of Gethsemane, and on the Mount of Olives, sending the crusading knights lost into religious zeal. It was at this time that they were ready for a siege. Godfrey, Robert of Flanders, and Robert of Normandy (who had now also left Raymond to join Godfrey) besieged the north walls as far south as the Tower of David, while Raymond set up his camp on the western side, from the Tower of David to Mount Zion. A direct assault on the walls on June 13 was a failure. Without water or food, both men and animals were quickly dying of thirst and starvation and the crusaders knew time was not on their side. Coincidentally, soon after the first assault, two Genoese galleys[14] sailed into the port at Jaffa. The Crusaders also began to gather wood from Samaria in order to build siege engines. They were still short on food and water, and by the end of June there was news that a Fatimid army was marching north from Egypt.

Massacre

Atrocities committed against the inhabitants of cities taken by storm after a siege were normal in ancient and medieval warfare by both Christians and Muslims. The Crusaders had already done so at Antioch, and Fatimids had done so themselves at Taormina, at Rometta, and at Tyre. However, the massacre of the inhabitants of Jerusalem, both Muslims and Jews, may have exceeded even these standards. Historian Michael Hull has suggested this was a matter of deliberate policy rather than simple bloodlust, to remove the “contamination of pagan superstition” (quoting Fulcher of Chartres) and to reform Jerusalem as a strictly Christian city.

The Archbishop of Tyre, eye-witness, wrote: “It was impossible to look upon the vast numbers of the slain without horror; everywhere lay fragments of human bodies, and the very ground was covered with the blood of the slain. It was not alone the spectacle of headless bodies and mutilated limbs strewn in all directions that roused the horror of all who looked upon them. Still more dreadful was it to gaze upon the victors themselves, dripping with blood from head to foot, an ominous sight which brought terror to all who met them. It is reported that within the Temple enclosure alone about ten thousand infidels perished.”

Christian chronicler Eckehard of Aura noted that “even the following summer in all of palestine the air was polluted by the stench of decomposition”. One million victims of the first crusade alone.

Jerusalem conquered 7/15/1099 more than 60,000 victims (jewish, muslim, men, women, children).

(In the words of one witness: “there [in front of Solomon’s temple] was such a carnage that our people were wading ankle-deep in the blood of our foes”, and after that “happily and crying for joy our people marched to our Saviour’s tomb, to honour it and to pay off our debt of gratitude”)

Here the Christians “did no other harm to the women found in [the enemy’s] tents—save that they ran their lances through their bellies,” according to Christian chronicler Fulcher of Chartres.

Marra (Maraat an-numan) 12/11/98 thousands killed. Because of the subsequent famine “the already stinking corpses of the enemies were eaten by the Christians” said chronicler Albert Aquensis.

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups

Catholic Church cardinals implicated in sex abuse, cover-ups
By Nicole Winfield
https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/03/catholic-church-cardinals-implicated-in-sex-abuse-cover-ups/

The conviction of French Cardinal Philippe Barbarin for failing to report a known pedophile priest to police deepens the crisis confronting an already discredited Catholic Church hierarchy. The verdict handed down by magistrates Thursday shows the church’s once-untouchable “princes” increasingly are judged accountable for priests who abuse children and the superiors who allowed the abuse to continue.

After centuries of impunity, cardinals from Chile to Australia and points in between are facing justice in both the Vatican and government courts for their own sexual misdeeds or for having shielded abusers under their watch.

Here is a look at cases implicating Catholic cardinals, members of the exclusive club of prelates that advises the pope and eventually elects his successor.

Australia — Cardinal George Pell

In December, the Vatican’s former finance minister was convicted in his native Australia of sexually abusing two boys in the 1990s.

Pell was convicted of orally raping a 13-year-old choirboy and indecently dealing with the boy and his 13-year-old friend in 1996 and 1997, months after the 77-year-old cardinal became archbishop of Melbourne.

Pell has denied wrongdoing and planned to appeal. He is scheduled to be sentenced next week.

Each of his five convictions carries a potential 10-year maximum sentence.

After his conviction, the Vatican said its sex crimes office had opened an investigation and confirmed the Sydney archbishop restricted Pell’s ministry after the cardinal returned to Australia to face trial.

United States — ex-Cardinal Theodore McCarrick 

Francis last month defrocked the onetime leader of the American church after an internal investigation determined McCarrick sexually molested children and adult men; some of the molestation took place during confession. It was the first time a cardinal had been defrocked over the scandal.

One of McCarrick’s victims has filed a police report and spoken to prosecutors in New York City, but it is unclear if any criminal charges can be brought given so much time has passed since the abuse occurred.

The McCarrick scandal has implicated high-ranking churchmen in both the United States and at the Vatican since it was apparently an open secret he slept with adult seminarians.

Chile — Cardinals Javier Errazuriz and Riccardo Ezzati 

The current and former archbishops of Santiago are under investigation by Chilean prosecutors for allegedly covering up for abusive priests.

Errazuriz, who retired as Santiago archbishop in 2010, was recently forced to resign from Francis’s kitchen cabinet after the depth of his cover-up was exposed last year.

His successor, Ezzati, was sued this week by a man who accused him of protecting a priest who allegedly drugged and raped him in the Santiago cathedral. The victim first filed a complaint with Ezzati in 2015. Ezzati issued a church sentence against the priest last year.

Prosecutors have overseen raids of church offices around the country. Ezzati and Errazuriz have so far refused to answer questions in the investigation.

Francis secured offers of resignation from every active Chilean bishop last year as part of Vatican efforts to clean up the Chilean church.

Scotland — Cardinal Keith O’Brien

O’Brien, once the highest-ranking Catholic leader in Britain, recused himself from the 2013 conclave that elected Francis pope after unidentified priests alleged in British newspaper reports that he acted inappropriately toward them.

The priests said they had complained to church authorities about O’Brien’s conduct but never received a response. None of the men were thought to have been minors when the alleged inappropriate behavior took place.

In 2015, Francis accepted O’Brien’s resignation after he relinquished the rights and privileges of being a cardinal. The decision was reached after the Vatican sent its top sex crimes investigator to Scotland to look into the allegations.

O’Brien was allowed to retain the title of cardinal and he died a cardinal in 2018.

Belgium — Cardinal Godfried Danneels

The retired head of Belgium’s Catholic Church has been under fire since 2010, when he was caught on tape suggesting that a victim of a serial predator bishop keep quiet until the man retired.

Two weeks after Danneels met with the victim, Bishop Roger Vangheluwe of Bruges resigned and expressed sorrow for having long abused his nephew, both as a priest and after becoming a bishop.

Danneels had told the victim it would do him no good going public, and he urged him to forgive his uncle.

Francis has been criticized for having included Danneels, considered a key supporter in his 2013 election, in important church meetings since the scandal.

United States — Cardinal Bernard Law

Law resigned in disgrace as archbishop of Boston in 2002 following revelations he hid clergy abuse involving dozens of priests who raped and sexually molested children, the scandal chronicled by the Boston Globe that led to the reckoning in the U.S. church.

More than any other prelate, he epitomized the Catholic Church’s failure to protect children from pedophile priests and its arrogance in safeguarding its own reputation at all costs.

St. John Paul II’s decision to promote Law to head St. Mary Major basilica in 2004 reinforced the impression the Vatican still hadn’t grasped the scale of the child abuse problem, the trauma it caused its victims, and the moral credibility the church had lost as a result.

At Law’s Vatican funeral last year, Francis prayed for a merciful final judgment.

Austria — Cardinal Hans Hermann Groer

Groer was allowed to retire on schedule as archbishop of Vienna in 1995 despite multiple allegations he sexually abused young boys at a seminary. He died in 2003 without ever facing civil or canonical justice.

His successor as Vienna archbishop, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, in 2010 accused the Vatican secretary of state at the time of the scandal, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, of being behind a cover-up and blocking a Vatican investigation of Groer’s crimes.

The same year, the Vatican gave Schoenborn a rare dressing down for his comments about Sodano, reminding him that only the pope can level accusations against a cardinal.

Vatican — Cardinal Angelo Sodano

As the powerful Vatican secretary of state under John Paul, Sodano has long been held in part responsible for the Vatican’s refusal to take action against pedophile priests.

More than anyone, he has been blamed for blocking a church investigation into the 20th century Catholic Church’s most notorious predator, the Rev. Marcial Maciel, founder of the Legion of Christ religious order.

Francis recently referred to how then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger – the future Pope Benedict XVI – initially failed to secure a sanction against Maciel, a veiled reference to the weight Cardinal Sodano wielded on the decisions of Ratzinger’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.

“He (Ratzinger) went with all his files. And when he returned he told his secretary, ‘Put them in the archive. The other side won,’” Francis said. “But then, once he became pope, the first thing he said was ‘Bring me the files from the archive,’ and he started.”

Eventually, the Vatican under Benedict sanctioned Maciel to a lifetime of penance and prayer for his crimes.

Legion of Christ finds 33 priests, 71 seminarian sex abusers

Legion of Christ finds 33 priests, 71 seminarian sex abusers
By the Associated Press
https://cruxnow.com/vatican/2019/12/legion-of-christ-finds-33-priests-71-seminarian-sex-abusers/

The Legion of Christ religious order, which was discredited by its pedophile founder and the cult-like practices he imposed, says an internal investigation has identified 33 priests and 71 seminarians who sexually abused minors over the past eight decades.

A third of the priestly abusers were themselves victims of the Legion’s late founder, Father Marcial Maciel Degollado, while others were victims of his victims – a multi-generational chain of abuse that confirms Maciel’s toxic influence spread throughout the order.

The Legion counted 175 victims of the priests, but didn’t provide a number for the victims of the seminarians, most of whom were never ordained and left the congregation.

The Legion released the statistics on Saturday, the same day Pope Francis accepted the resignation of the Legion’s biggest defender at the Vatican, Cardinal Angelo Sodano, as dean of the College of Cardinals.

Sodano, who was secretary of state under St. John Paul II, had for years blocked the Vatican from investigating sex abuse allegations against Maciel, even though the Vatican had documented evidence dating from the 1940s that he was a drug addict and pedophile. Under John Paul, however, Maciel was admired at the Vatican for his supposed orthodoxy and ability to produce donations and vocations.

The Vatican in 2010 took over the Mexico-based Legion and imposed a process of reform after an investigation showed that Maciel had sexually abused seminarians and fathered at least three children with two women. The Vatican found he had created a system of power built on silence, deceit and obedience that enabled him to lead a double life “devoid of any scruples and authentic sense of religion.”

Two-thirds of the Legion’s priestly victims – 60 – were Maciel’s victims, the report found. Most were boys between ages 11 and 16.

The 33 priestly abusers represented 2.44% of the 1,353 Legion priests ordained since 1941, the report found. That percentage is far lower than national averages of credibly accused priests over a similar period in the U.S. or Australia, where the percentages are 5.8 and seven, respectively.

The Legion acknowledged that more victims may come forward with other accusations, and attributed the comparatively low percentage to the fact that 60 of the seminarians who abused weren’t ordained as priests.

The Legion only published the names of four U.S.-based priests who were among the 33 abusers, saying ethical and legal considerations prevented identifying the others. U.S. religious orders and dioceses have been publishing names of credibly accused priests following the re-eruption of the scandal there.

A former Legion priest, Father Christian Borgogno, said the report debunks the Legion’s effort to blame all its problems on Maciel alone and showed that abuse festered far beyond his inner circle.

In a series of tweets, Borgogno questioned the seemingly low number of abusers, noted some had been ordained even after allegations against them were known, and complained that the report said nothing about the web of cover-up that allowed Maciel and others to continue abusing.

The report acknowledged that it was limited in scope, didn’t address issues of abuse of power or conscience, or matters of cover-up and negligence, but said that was an “important pending task.”

It said it was publishing the report as a first step on a “path of reconciliation” with victims, by recognizing the history of abuse in the order.

The Legion leadership is due to consider the report at a general meeting next month.

Yes there is a cure for Roman Catholic Church priest pedophiles and their Pedophile Pimps.

Legionaries founder sexually abused 60 boys, religious order's report says

Legionaries founder sexually abused 60 boys, religious order’s report says
By Phillip Pullella
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mexico-abuse/legionaires-founder-sexually-abused-60-boys-religious-orders-report-says-idUSKBN1YQ02Y

Sexual abuse of minors was rife among superiors of the Legionaries of Christ Catholic religious order, with at least 60 boys abused by its founder Father Marcial Maciel, a report by the group showed.

The report is important because for decades until 2006, including during all of the pontificate of Pope John Paul, the Vatican dismissed accusations by seminarians that Maciel had abused them sexually, some when they were as young as 12.

The order said the report, which was released on Saturday and covers the period since Maciel founded it in his native Mexico in 1941 to this year, was “an additional attempt (by the Legionaries) to confront their history”.

Maciel, who died in 2008, was perhaps the Roman Catholic Church’s most notorious pedophile, even abusing children he had fathered secretly with at least two women while living a double life and being feted by the Vatican and Church conservatives.

Cardinal Angelo Sodano, 92, who was secretary of state under John Paul, was for years one of the Legionaries’ biggest protectors in the Vatican.

Pope Francis accepted his resignation as dean of the college of cardinals on Saturday and simultaneously changed church law to limit the dean’s position to a five-year term, rather than for life.

The Vatican first acknowledged Maciel’s crimes in 2006, when former Pope Benedict ordered him to retire to a life of “prayer and penitence”. But Benedict resisted calls from some in the Church who said the order should be dissolved because it was toxic to the core.

The Vatican instead took over the order in 2010 and began a process of reform.

The new report says that between 1941 and 2019, 175 minors were victims of abuse by 33 priests in the order. At least 60, or about one-third, were abused by Maciel himself, it said.

Most victims were boys between 11 and 16, it said.

ABUSE OF POWER

While the report said the 33 amounted to only 2.44% of the 1,353 priests ordained by the order, it said that nearly 43% of those who committed the abuse were in positions of authority, making it difficult to report or punish the abuse.

“(Abuse) was linked to the abuse of power and conscience on the part of some who took advantage of their posts to abuse,” it said.

Of the 33, six have died, eight have left the priesthood, and one had left the order. Of the 18 who remain members, four have “ministerial restrictions” to keep them away from minors and 14 have no public priestly ministry, the report said.

Seventy-four seminarians studying for the priesthood also abused minors and 81% of them were not ordained.

Father Christian Borgogno, a former member of the order, said that the numbers of those abused were “clearly unlikely” to be accurate and believed that they were much higher.

“It is difficult to think that this is anything more than a whitewash of the (Legionaries’) image,” he said in a tweet. He said the reported lacked “independent sources”.

After Maciel’s death, Vatican investigations found that he had also fathered several children with at least two women, visited them regularly and sent them money. He also used drugs.

Former members have said the order was run like a cult, with rules forbidding any criticism of the founder or questioning of his motives.

They said Maciel gave huge contributions to the Vatican during the papacy of John Paul, who admired the Legionaries’ orthodoxy and ability to produce vocations.

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.

La Luz Del Mundo’s ‘Apostle’ Faces Sexual Abuse Charges. Here’s Why That Has Rattled Many In LA

La Luz Del Mundo’s ‘Apostle’ Faces Sexual Abuse Charges. Here’s Why That Has Rattled Many In LA
By Aaron Schrank on June 10, 2019
https://laist.com/2019/06/10/arrest_of_la_luz_del_mundo_apostle_on_sexual_abuse_charges_rattles_many_in_la.php

his picture taken on August 9, 2017 shows the leader of the Church of the Light of the World, Naason Joaquin Garcia, walking among his parishioners in Guadalajara, Mexico. - The leader of La Luz Del Mundo, an international religious organization based in Mexico, has been arrested in California on charges of human trafficking, child rape and other felonies, authorities said on June 4, 2019. Naason Joaquin Garcia, who heads the organization that claims one million followers worldwide, and three co-defendants allegedly committed 26 felonies in southern California between 2015 and 2018. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP)        (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)
This picture taken on August 9, 2017 shows the leader of the Church of the Light of the World, Naason Joaquin Garcia, walking among his parishioners in Guadalajara, Mexico. – The leader of La Luz Del Mundo, an international religious organization based in Mexico, has been arrested in California on charges of human trafficking, child rape and other felonies, authorities said on June 4, 2019. Naason Joaquin Garcia, who heads the organization that claims one million followers worldwide, and three co-defendants allegedly committed 26 felonies in southern California between 2015 and 2018. (Photo by ULISES RUIZ / AFP) (Photo credit should read ULISES RUIZ/AFP/Getty Images)

Naason Joaquin Garcia, the leader of the Mexico-based church La Luz Del Mundo, is scheduled to be arraigned in Los Angeles on June 21. The list of charges is long and disturbing. Among them: rape of a minor, extortion and human traficking.

But what exactly is La Luz Del Mundo? And what role does Joaquin Garcia have among his followers?

WHO IS JOAQUIN GARCIA AND WHY WAS HE ARRESTED?

Joaquin Garcia isn’t just the leader of La Luz Del Mundo. Adherents of the fundamentalist Christian group consider the man now being held on $50 million bail a living apostle of Jesus Christ, like his father and grandfather before him.

Joaquin Garcia was arrested at LAX last Monday on charges including child rape and human trafficking, after four church members from L.A. County filed reports using the California Attorney General’s clergy abuse tip line. The alleged crimes occurred in L.A. County between 2015 and 2018.

Prosecutors say Joaquin Garcia and three female co-defendants coerced underage victims into performing sex acts by telling them that if they defied Garcia’s desires as “the Apostle,” they were defying God.

In a news conference Thursday, Attorney General Xavier Becerra said his heart goes out to the many Mexican immigrants in Los Angeles who depend on La Luz Del Mundo, or The Light of The World church, for support.

“I understand many are probably very frightened and confused,” Becerra said. “Many of these folks are not well-versed in American society, are not totally fluent, and depended quite a bit on what this organization provided to them.”

Still, he urged local members to step forward with any additional evidence of abuse against their spiritual leader.

“I would simply say to them that no law of California, no law of humankind, and certainly no law of God would permit what Naason Joaquin Garcia is alleged to have committed against these young women,” Becerra said.

HOW HAVE LA LUZ MEMBERS REACTED?

Since Joaquin Garcia’s arrest, some members have held prayer services for their embattled leader and church leaders have issued statements of support.

“The church categorically rejects the false accusations against Joaquin Garcia,” La Luz spokesman Nicolas Menchaca told LAist, adding that “the Apostle” has always acted according to the law.

During a service this week at La Luz Del Mundo’s East L.A. church, a crowd of about 100 people gathered — the focus was largely on Joaquin Garcia himself.

“Our reaction has been to come to church and to pray, and to put everything in God’s hands, because we trust that God will answer our prayers,” said Priscilla Granados, 25, standing outside after the service.

The Greek-style, gold-columned temple is the group’s largest in Southern California, with more than 1,200 members. Joaquin Garcia once served as pastor at the East L.A. church. In 2014, he became the international leader of La Luz Del Mundo, based in Guadalajara.

Granados, who joined the church with her family at age 12, said she believes Joaquin Garcia is innocent of the charges against him.

“I only speak of what I know, and what I know of him, for the years that I’ve been part of the church, I’ve never seen anything, witnessed anything, or heard anything relatively close to what’s being spread right now,” Granados said.

Some former members of La Luz Del Mundo have spoken critically about Joaquin Garcia. One online forum is aimed at “exit support” and discussion.

WHAT IS LA LUZ DEL MUNDO?

La Luz is the largest evangelical church in Mexico and the second largest religious body there after the Roman Catholic Church. It’s also a transnational movement with between 1 and 5 million members worldwide and dozens of churches in Southern California. That includes the East L.A. location and a church in Pasadena.

The religious group was founded in Guadalajara in 1926 by Joaquin Garcia’s grandfather, Eusebio Joaquin Gonzalez, still venerated by adherents as the “first Apostle.”

After the Great Depression, Joaquin Gonzalez recruited migrants returning to Mexico from the U.S. In the 1950s, he began to evangelize in Los Angeles.

“This is a migrant church that was born in the most historically and traditionally migrant place in all of Mexico,” said Patricia Fortuny, a cultural anthropologist based in Mexico City, that’s researched the group since 1989. “It has the highest rate of migration to the United States historically, since the 19th century.”

For that reason, Fortuny said California, with its large population of Mexican immigrants, has the largest concentration of La Luz adherents in the U.S.

Joaquin Garcia’s father, Samuel Joaquin Flores, led the church from 1964 until 2014. He was the subject of sexual abuse allegations in 1997, but never faced criminal charges.

WHAT IS THE BELIEF SYSTEM OF LA LUZ MEMBERS?

The La Luz belief system is a mash-up of Pentecostal theology and regional Catholic culture, Fortuny said.

La Luz followers identify as Christians who follow the Bible and believe that Jesus Christ is humanity’s savior. But they’re taught salvation can only be achieved by following the international leaders of their church, past and present.

This belief system fostered an intense connection and trust among many members who view Joaquin Garcia as the key to their religious movement.

La Luz traditions are unfamiliar to many in the U.S. Churches offer three prayer services each day. Male and female worshippers sit on opposite sides of churches. Women wear long skirts and cover their heads with lace veils. Church members aren’t supposed to drink, smoke or gamble. The church does not celebrate Christmas or Easter.

While Fortuny said the religious group is too large and well-organized to be considered a cult, La Luz Del Mundo’s focus on its “apostles” does set the church apart from other Latin American evangelical Pentecostal movements.

“Most Pentecostal churches don’t worship their pastors,” Fortuny said. “Having this ‘living apostle’ is the strongest feature of the church, because it’s fantastic for the people. They feel unique, like they are chosen to be part of the restored primitive Christian Church. But it’s also the weakest feature of the church, because of that coercive power the leader, in this case Naason Joaquin Garcia, has.”

As a minority religion in heavily Catholic Mexico, La Luz Del Mundo members have faced some marginalization and persecution. Fortuny said Joaquin Garcia’s arrest will only worsen relations between Catholics and non-Catholics in Mexico.

“There’s already violent discourse against La Luz Del Mundo in Guadalajara,” Fortuny said. “Now, this is probably going to extend into many other evangelical groups who are not La Luz, and who are not as fundamentalist. Other churches will be painted with the same brush.”

Fortuny also worries about millions of La Luz faithful, whose lives are now thrown into disarray.

HOW WILL THE ALLEGATIONS OF SEXUAL ASSAULT AFFECT THE CHURCH AND ITS FOLLOWERS?

While a faction of believers are defending Joaquin Garcia, Fortuney said there’s likely another faction that believes he’s guilty and will fight to keep the church going without him.

“The church could be divided and weakened, but it could also become stronger,” Fortuny said. “Naason can be perceived as an innocent man wrongly persecuted by the state. This persecution can become symbolic social capital for the Church to use.”

California Attorney General Xavier Becerra said Joaquin Garcia’s $50 million bail set a new record in Los Angeles County, because of concerns his followers might be able to raise enough funds to help him flee prosecution.

Last Friday, La Luz Del Mundo officials held a press conference in Los Angeles, introducing the legal team that will defend Garcia against 26 felony charges.

UPDATES:

Wednesday, June 12, 11:52 a.m.: This article was updated with the new arraignment date and details from members.

This article was originally published on Monday, June 10 at 7 a.m.

Aaron Schrank covers religion, international affairs and the Southern California diaspora under a grant from the Luce Foundation.

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.