Archive for July, 2011

Irish bishop says clergy ‘appalled’ at handling of abuse

Sunday, July 31, 2011


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Clergy ‘appalled’ at handling of abuse


PATSY McGARRY, Religious Affairs Correspondent


PRIESTS, RELIGIOUS and bishops are among those appalled by what they have learned about “the wrongdoing of some priests”, Archbishop Michael Neary of Tuam said yesterday.

It was “understandable that many good and faithful Catholics experience distress and discouragement after the revelations of the mishandling of abuse cases”, he said. The archbishop was speaking during a Mass he celebrated at the top of Croagh Patrick in Mayo yesterday morning as the “Reek Sunday” climb was under way.

Mayo Mountain Rescue estimated up to 20,000 people took part in foggy conditions. About 120 rescue personnel were on duty, with a spokesman saying up to 50 people had been treated for minor ailments by mid-afternoon. There were no serious incidents.

“We are very conscious of the difficulties on life’s journey, the enormous difficulties besetting our church, chiefly in the number of innocent people who have suffered through the wrongdoing of some priests,” Archbishop Neary said. “Many are angered and appalled by what they have learnt. Indeed, these feelings are shared by priests, religious and, yes, bishops too.”

He continued: “A woman asked me last week when it would all end. The honest answer is that it will not end until every survivor has told their story and until every victim is facilitated in embarking on their journey to real healing, where true dignity is accorded. On our pilgrimage today, we bring before the Lord all those who have suffered a betrayal of their trust and a violation of their dignity.

“In the crucible of suffering it is cold comfort to hear it said, but the reality now is that literally thousands of people, the vast majority lay, are active in our parishes implementing child safeguarding measures.

“Next year, the 50th International Eucharistic Congress will take place in Ireland. At the heart of the congress is the mystery of the Eucharist and never did we need the Eucharist more,” he said.

The Eucharistic Congress Bell was taken up to the summit of Croagh Patrick by young people from Tuam archdiocese on Friday morning. It was there until 2.30pm yesterday.

Meanwhile, there has been a call for the congress to be postponed and for the Czech government not to accept the current papal nuncio to Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, as papal nuncio to Prague, to which he has been appointed by the Vatican.

David Clohessy, director of the US-based Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, has endorsed a call by Fine Gael Senator Cáit Keane in the Seanad last Tuesday that the congress be postponed. Supporting a call by the Association of Catholic Priests, she said, “I believe it is not an appropriate time for an event such as the Eucharistic Congress to take place in this country. I believe that everyone will be better served, given the sensitivities around the findings of this report, that it be held at a later date.”

Mr Clohessy said the network “wholeheartedly” endorsed this view. “Somehow, somewhere, Catholic officials must learn that they can’t enable and hide child sex crimes, and then just plod along with ‘business as usual’.

“Somewhere, somehow, someone must show them that there are actual, ‘real world’ consequences when they cause thousands of innocent boys and girls and vulnerable adults to be raped and sodomised.”

He described reports that the papal nuncio to Ireland was being transferred to Prague as “terribly distressing”. It meant “Pope Benedict is sending a clear signal to church officials across the globe: ‘If you stonewall secular authorities and keep clergy sex crimes and cover-ups covered up, I’ll protect you’,” he said.



The US Congress And The Debt Ceiling; The Roman Catholic Church And Predator Priests

Sunday, July 31, 2011

The US Congress And The Debt Ceiling;

The Roman Catholic Church And Predator Priests

By Frank Douglas

July 31, 2011

AS I write this, the members of Congress, whom the citizens of the United States elected, are having an extremely tough time coming to a legislative solution on the debt ceiling.

American voters gripe endlessly about cowardly, self-serving politicians, but voters are quick to overlook their own role in legislative impasses that keep the nation from resolving festering problems such as immigration, the long-term stability of Medicare, and now, the debt ceiling.

However, the overwhelming majority of senators and representatives do what their constituents want them to do. Or, more to the point, they respond to people in their districts who bother to vote. Nothing is dearer to politicians than re-election, and most have a keen sense of when they are straying into dangerous waters.

In much the same way, many Catholics gripe about the unelected, unmarried male leaders of their church allowing predator priests to remain in ministry and prey on innocent children, not permitting women to be priests, and a host of other festering issues.

Both US Congress members and Catholic Church leaders are the objects of scorn of many of their constituents.

Yet, most Congress members will be reelected and will return to business as usual. Catholic Church leaders will continue to do what they always do; business as usual will continue as usual. So, in both cases power retains its seat at the top of the pyramid.

The people, that is folks like you and me, could decide to make things different, but we don’t. We could elect a different set of people to represent us in the US Senate and House of Representatives, but we don’t. We could stop giving money to Holy Mother Church, but we don’t.


That the $64 ($64 trillion?) question.

There are a variety of answers: things are not bad enough, yet; we’re just plain lazy and/or don’t give a damn; we are not organized; the status quo ain’t so bad after all. And so on.

Will either system—US Congress or Catholic Church—change? Ever?

Who knows?

Does anyone really care?






Illinois high court rejects Catholic Diocese of Belleville appeal in sex case

Sunday, July 31, 2011


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Posted on Sun, Jul. 31, 2011

‘This whole argument … is ludicrous’: Illinois high court rejects Diocese’s appeal in sex case



The Illinois Supreme Court for the second time has denied a request by the Catholic Diocese of Belleville to hear an appeal of a St. Clair County Court jury verdict awarding $5 million to a former altar boy jurors found was sexually abused by a priest.

The only remaining avenue for appeal is to the U.S. Supreme Court, but only if a constitutional question can be raised.

St. Louis attorney David Wells filed the motion on behalf of the diocese asking the state appeals court to reconsider its original denial on May 25 on grounds that the award threatened the religious freedom of Illinois residents.

The court again rejected the motion without comment. Wells could not be reached for comment Saturday.

Belleville Bishop Edward Braxton, who has approved both appeals to the state Supreme Court, could not be reached for comment.

James Wisniewski, of Champaign, was awarded the $5 million after a civil trial in 2008 where he testified that he was sexually abused starting about age 13 more than 35 years ago by the Rev. Raymond Kownacki at St. Theresa Parish in Salem. Kownacki, of Dupo, has stated he will not comment.

During the trial, Belleville attorneys Mike Weilmuenster and Steve Wigginton produced documents showing that diocesan officials knew that Kownacki was accused of sexually assaulting boys and girls but continued to reassign him to parishes without warning parishioners. The priest was removed from ministry more than 15 years ago because of allegations of sexual abuse of minors. Wigginton is currently the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois.

Wisniewski filed suit in 2002 and his attorneys successfully warded off efforts by the diocese to have the case dismissed in the 5th District Appellate Court in Mount Vernon.

As for the chances that the U.S. Supreme Court would hear a motion by the diocese in the Wisniewski case, Weilmuenster put them at “zero.”

“This whole argument about this infringement upon religious freedom is ludicrous,” he said Saturday. “I’ve been a Catholic my whole life, and no one’s ever told me that it’s part of my Catholic faith that it’s OK to abuse children and cover it up.”

Since the state Supreme Court’s denial in May, Weilmuenster estimated that the overall amount that must be paid to Wisniewski has increased by about $80,000 because of interest estimated at $1,250 per day. This would put the total amount of the award at just under $6.4 million. Wisniewski’s money is guaranteed by a surety bond posted by the diocese and by other money in an escrow account under control of the court.

In June, after the latest appeal motion was filed with the state supreme court, Braxton sent a letter to his priests to be read to the public in which he contended that the statute of limitations had been extended in the Wisniewski case in such a way that it violated the constitutional separation of church and state.

However the 5th District Appellate Court’s earlier decision, which addressed the time limit argument, stated that no issue of religious freedom was involved. The appellate court ruled that because the diocese “fraudulently concealed” Kownacki’s danger to children, the time limit that would otherwise be barred was extended.

Contact reporter George Pawlaczyk at gpawlaczyk@bnd.com or 239-2625.

© 2011 Belleville News-Democrat and news service sources. All Rights Reserved. http://www.bnd.com


What is the Knights Templar?

Sunday, July 31, 2011


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What is the Knights Templar?


By Fareed Zakaria, CNN


The group has come to everyone’s attention because of Anders Behring Breivik’s killing spree in Norway, now just over a week ago. He claimed in his rambling manifesto to represent a modern-day “Knights Templar”.

But who are they?

The name might ring a bell, especially if you’ve seen The DaVinci Code or National Treasure or one of any number of recent films. But these are, of course, all fictional. What are the facts?

The Knights Templar were a Christian military order founded in the early 12th century. Its members were said to be elite warriors who wore distinctive white mantles with a red cross. They made their reputation by winning a series of battles in the Crusades.

Ironically, the Knights’ first headquarters were in a mosque – the Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem – because they believed it was built on top of the ruins of Solomon’s Temple. Their name, templar, comes from that legendary temple.

The Knights’ main job was said to be protecting Christian pilgrims from Muslims (amongst others). To this day, the site of the mosque and the temple mount remains one of the most heavily disputed place on earth.

The order of the Knights Templar was dissolved in 1312, but its legacy lives on. Rumors still swirl that the group exists in total secrecy and guards the Holy Grail.

From what sounds like fiction, back to fact: We know that Brevik saw himself as a Knight Templar.

But get this: Halfway across the world from Norway, a new drug gang has recently arisen in Mexico. They call themselves quite simply “The Knights Templar”.

And they claim to live by a religious code, a copy of which the Associated Press recently obtained. It says the drug-dealing knights will “defend the values of society…against materialism, injustice and tyranny” and that its members will be “honorable”, “noble”, “courteous” and “honest”.

So they are “honest” drug dealers, selling marijuana, cocaine and whatever else in the name of God?

Anders Breivik’s fascination with the Knights is less bizarre – in fact, he’s part of a larger movement. People like Breivik are trying to resurrect the idea of a modern-day Crusade, a real clash of civilizations against what they see as an Islamic invasion of Europe.

In fact, Muslims make up only about 3 % of Europe’s population and are likely to rise to between 5% and 8% by 2025 and level out at that point. But that doesn’t change the reality of the anger, hatred and violence.

Ironically, in Breivik’s nostalgic view of the medieval world, the Knights Templar resembles nothing so much as al Qaeda, a terrorist organization that is fundamentally opposed to the modern world.

We still don’t know if Breivik’s boast that there are more lone knights like him waiting to act is true. But if his depiction of the knight as a self-sacrificing assassin on a larger holy mission sounds familiar, it’s because it too is mirrored in Islamist terror. That’s exactly what a suicide bomber is: A lone fighter, often acting in the so-called interests of a larger movement and willing to kill innocents to draw attention to the cause.

While we have all focused on the dangers of radical Islam and of Muslim terror, the attack in Norway should remind us that there is actually a pretty large problem of other sources of terrorism in the West.

The European Union’s 2010 Terrorism Situation and Trend Report has some fascinating findings. It showed that of the 294 terror attacks committed in Europe in 2009, only one was conducted by Islamists. That’s a third of one percent.

The most recent statistics show there were 249 terror attacks in Europe in 2010. Only three of those attacks were carried out by Islamist terrorists. Again, that’s about one percent. Most of the attacks were by separatist groups or anarchists.

So perhaps that’s the lesson we can learn from the events in Norway. Islamic radicalism is a real problem and Islamic terrorism a real threat. But if we ignore other kinds of threats we’re likely to be blindsided by another Gabby Giffords shooting or another Virginia Tech massacre.

As Norway has become the most recent nation to learn – the enemy can just as easily come from deep within.



Road to Recovery

Sunday, July 31, 2011

I wholeheartedly support the great work Frs. Bob Hoatson and Ken Lasch do to care for clergy abuse victims.

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Road to Recovery, Inc.

P.O. Box 279

Livingston, New Jersey 07039


Administrative Office:

46 Morris Road

West Orange, New Jersey 07052






July, 2011


To the past and future supporters of Road to Recovery:


Another year has passed in the life and work of the non-profit charity, Road to Recovery.  I am happy to report that our work continues unabated and is needed more than ever.  In previous years, we dealt with approximately two to four new cases of clergy and religious sexual abuse per week.  Our caseload has increased to four to six new cases per week and there is no letup in sight.  Thank you for making it possible for Road to Recovery to assist over one thousand victims and their families during the past eight years.


Road to Recovery continues to receive national and international recognition for its work.  I appeared a few weeks ago on the CNN program “Anderson Cooper 360” when John Jay College released its findings of the causes and context of clergy sexual abuse, and this interview may be accessed by going to the CNN website.  That same day, I taped an interview with National Public Radio and its highly-rated afternoon drive-time show, “All Things Considered.”  During the past year, we have been quoted in newspaper and magazine articles, had letters to the editor published in local and national newspapers, and participated in a number of efforts to change legislation in states where child sexual abuse laws are antiquated.


All in all, the twelve month period between July, 2010 and July, 2011 has been our busiest year ever and we anticipate that the next twelve months will be even busier.  Consider that:


*Road to Recovery was an integral part of the commentary and victims’ assistance aspects of the Philadelphia Grand Jury Report of 2011.  Many new victims came forward at that time and Road to Recovery was there to help victims as they spoke about their abuse for the first time.


*Road to Recovery traveled to Dublin, Ireland in 2010 to work with new victims and honor the many heroic supporters and advocates of victims in Ireland.  We participated in the release of a Belfast woman’s film about clergy abuse and appeared at premieres of the film in London and Belfast.


*Road to Recovery was invited by a Florida radio station and online website to begin weekly (and eventually daily) reports on the topic of sexual abuse of minors, particularly by clergy and other religious persons.


*Road to Recovery has been instrumental in helping victims of clergy sexual abuse to resolve their cases with the Church and get on with their lives.  Millions of dollars were attained with the help of Road to Recovery to help survivors pay for therapy and medical and living expenses.


*Road to Recovery has clients in practically every one of the United States and countries such as Canada, Scotland, Haiti, Italy, Ireland, the United Kingdom, Germany, and Switzerland.


Of course, the most important work conducted by Road to Recovery is that of helping survivors maneuver the road to recovery through healing, primarily.  As our brochure clearly points out, we are a charity that provides “COMPASSIONATE COUNSELING FOR SURVIVORS OF CLERGY ABUSE.”  We are pastoral counselors and our work ranges from finding psychotherapy treatment for victims to providing rental and food assistance to those struggling to survive.  For example,


*G.M. is a survivor of abuse in a Catholic high school in New York City.  For nearly two years, Road to Recovery has walked with him in contacting his abuser’s religious order, setting up a therapy plan, and attending various reporting sessions with him.  He was just found credible and looks forward to a settlement so he can begin to normalize his life.


*“S” was abused by at least three priests in New Jersey.  Road to Recovery provided him with nearly a year’s worth of rent and living expenses so he could begin to heal.  He is doing much better and is ready to re-enter the work force.


*J.C. was abused by his basketball coach at a prominent New York City Catholic high school.  His abuser recently pled guilty to his crimes in a Massachusetts courtroom.  Road to Recovery has provided a host of services to him, including pastoral counseling sessions, financial assistance for rent, travel, and everyday needs, and courtroom support.


*C.P. continues to hope that her case against a Catholic nun for sexual abuse when she was in high school will be re-opened now that the Philadelphia Grand Jury has uncovered more evidence of cover-ups and secrecy by the Philadelphia Archdiocese.  Road to Recovery continues to help her pay monthly rent and other bills.


*J.T. is a survivor from Michigan.  He has struggled to take care of his family because of the effects of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder following his abuse by a priest.  Road to Recovery helped him get through the bitterly cold winter by providing finances for heating oil.


*A.M. is a survivor of nun and priest abuse from New York City.  A.M. was not able to use public transportation for thirty years following his abuse as a child because of intense anxiety.  Because of the financial and “moral” support of Road to Recovery, A.M. is able to ride public buses, ride elevators, and participate in recovery programs in his neighborhood.


*M.H. is from Portland, Oregon and a victim of priest abuse.  He has been helped by Road to Recovery with a car payment so he can keep his job.


*R.S., abused in Staten Island, NY by a priest, and his wife and two children have been helped by Road to Recovery for several years with payments of utility bills.


*A.M. is a priest who was abused in his religious order.  He literally had to escape from abusive superiors and a hostile environment.  Road to Recovery has helped him re-start his life in Brooklyn, NY.


*E.F. reported his abuse to the proper New Jersey church authorities in 2009.  He was told he was not credible.  Since 2009, Road to Recovery has helped him survive during the winter months when his seasonal work is suspended.  He recently proved that his allegations were true by finding other victims of the same priest.  Road to Recovery is working with nearly ten more survivors of the same priest.


These are examples of the daily work of Road to Recovery, and we couldn’t do it unless you supported us.  Once again, Father Ken Lasch and I ask for your overwhelming generosity.  If you are able to continue to help us or can help us for the first time, please send tax-deductible contributions to:


Road to Recovery, Inc.

P.O. Box 279

Livingston, New Jersey 07039


All the best to you and yours!




Rev. Robert M. Hoatson, Ph.D.

Co-founder and President


The Knots Prayer

Sunday, July 31, 2011


Brought to my attention by Afshan Ahmad.

Thank you, Afshan.

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Catholic Group Based in Chicago (Call to Action) Leads Protest Against Church

Sunday, July 31, 2011


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Catholic Group Based in Chicago Leads Protest Against Church

Jose More/Chicago News Cooperative


The Roman Catholic Church in the United States is divided on the ordination of women. The group Call to Action, based in Chicago, supports such a policy.



It’s a long way from the Vatican to Roscoe Village, but a group based in that North Side neighborhood is leading a high-profile protest among American priests that challenges the Roman Catholic Church’s ban on ordination of women.

A nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization providing local coverage of Chicago and the surrounding area for The New York Times.

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The group, Call to Action, an organization for reform-minded Catholics, has collected signatures of more than 150 priests — including 8 in Chicago — on a petition defending a liberal priest, the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, who is being threatened with dismissal for his public support for ordaining women. In an increasingly conservative church, the rebellion has been hailed as a remarkable moment for liberals in the church.

“We just got on the phones and started telling priests, ‘We’ve got to support Father Roy,’ ” said Nicole Sotelo, 33, a leader of Call to Action, which bills itself as the nation’s largest organization for reform-minded Catholics.

The Rev. Bill Kenneally, who lives in the Beverly neighborhood on the South Side, is among the protesters. Father Kenneally, the 75-year-old retired pastor of St. Gertrude’s Church and volunteer at St. Barnabas Church, said he “and a majority of priests, truthfully” do not agree with the church’s “vapid reasoning” for excluding women.

Father Kenneally said he is unfazed by possible reprisals. “Since I’m retired,” he said, “it’s not like they can take a church away from me.”

The protest orchestrated by Call to Action underscores the role that Catholic culture — orthodoxy and dissidence — has played for generations in shaping the intellectual life and politics of Chicago. Only once have voters elected a non-Catholic mayor — Harold Washington — in the more than 75 years before Rahm Emanuel, who is Jewish, won a landslide victory this year.

Nuns have also held powerful positions in Chicago public life. Sister Sheila Lyne served as commissioner of public health under Mayor Richard M. Daley, while Sister Catherine Ryan headed the juvenile division at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office under Richard Devine. Writers, including the Rev. Andrew Greeley and Eugene Kennedy, a former priest, as well as John Powers, have given rich voice to Chicago cultural and Catholic issues (and in Father Greeley’s case, contributed to some steamy romance novels).

Catholic activists marched in the city’s streets to protest the Vietnam War and racism. Social activism within the church during the 1960s prompted many priests and nuns to walk alongside the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., even as insults — and at least one brick — rained down from angry onlookers.

In the ’80s and ’90s, Cardinal Joseph Bernardin, the head of the Archdiocese of Chicago, was a leading national voice in opposition to the death penalty.

These days, the Rev. Michael Pfleger invokes the Catholic mission and obligation in pushing for social causes that serve the poor and reach out to blacks, even as his style sometimes draws the wrath of his boss, Cardinal Francis George.

While the city also has many conservative Catholics, perhaps no organization in Chicago with a Catholic identity has been more direct, or far-reaching, than Call to Action in making the case for wholesale reform within the church itself. Besides the ordination of women, the group calls for equal rights for gay men and lesbians, giving priests the option to marry and accepting back into the fold divorced Catholics who have remarried.

Call to Action has also focused on protecting church workers, citing cases of Catholic employees’ being dismissed for holding views contrary to Vatican orthodoxy or belonging to organizations like Planned Parenthood deemed unacceptable by the hierarchy.

Although many Chicago priests and nuns belong to the group, Cardinal George has kept his distance. “The archdiocese has no relationship with Call to Action,” said Susan Burritt, the spokeswoman for the Chicago Archdiocese, “and therefore has no comment on Call to Action’s policies or statements.”

That position contrasts sharply to the attitude of Cardinal Bernardin, according to Msgr. Ken Velo, who was his personal assistant.

“It is a very different church than it had been when Cardinal Bernardin died 15 years ago,” said Monsignor Velo, now an administrator at DePaul University. “Cardinal Bernardin’s style was collaborative. He was a true believer in church teachings, but at the same time he understood that people had varying viewpoints. And he was respectful of their views. He wanted to learn from them.”

Call to Action was founded in 1976 by Dan and Sheila Daley, a priest and nun who had met at St. James Church and school (he was associate pastor, she was a teacher) and then fell in love and married. The Daleys retired from the organization in 2008.

The organization has 57 chapters and 25,000 members nationwide. Nuns and priests account for about 30 percent of the members who attend the group’s annual conference.

Call to Action’s headquarters are in a modest office building at the corner of Roscoe and Hamilton Streets. On the wall of a conference room hangs a painting of the Last Supper — with women and children joining Jesus and the apostles at the table. On another wall, a map of dioceses around the country is stuck with pins in a battle plan to address current issues: gay rights, the role of altar girls, changes in the liturgy.

In the case of Father Bourgeois, the priest who is calling for the ordination of women, Call to Action has sponsored his 34-city speaking tour, called “Shattering The Stained Glass Ceiling,” which will conclude in September in downstate Belleville.

The Vatican maintains that even discussion of ordaining women is a violation of Catholic teaching. The authorities of the Maryknoll Order, based in New York, sent a letter to Father Bourgeois in March demanding that he recant his public statements or be dismissed from its ranks.

The petition drive sponsored by Call to Action defends the priest’s “right to speak his conscience.” The list was restricted to “priests in good standing,” said Bob Heineman, one of the group’s leaders, so that church authorities could not dismiss the protesters as “renegades.”

The Chicago group contends that surveys show that more rank-and-file Catholics side with Father Bourgeois on church policies than with the Vatican. “What it all boils down to is who is the church?” Mr. Heineman said. “The hierarchy? Or the people?”

Among Chicago’s conservative Catholics is the ultra-orthodox group Opus Dei, which has long counted the city as one of its stronger bases of operation. Many of these Catholics believe that the church went too far with the reforms of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.

The Rev. Anthony Brankin, the longtime pastor at St. Thomas More Church who now serves at St. Odilo Church in Berwyn, is an outspoken conservative and critic of Call to Action. Father Brankin describes members of the liberal Catholic movement as lost souls, disenfranchised by both their own church and a larger society that views Catholicism as largely irrelevant.

Pope Benedict XVI has spoken of a more faithful church, even if that means it becomes smaller.

Father Brankin said: “Really, when you think about what has happened in modern society, who but aging feminist nuns and their hangers-on clerics even cares whether women should be priests or not?”

But the activists at Call to Action note that while church leaders might not be open to dissent, they seem to be paying attention.


A version of this article appeared in print on July 31, 2011, on page A23A of the National edition with the headline: Catholic Group Based in Chicago Leads Protest Against Church.