Archive for July, 2015
A prosecutor’s motion to keep in prison an ex-priest convicted of child sexual abuse highlights how civil rather than Church authority continues to try to hold perpetrators accountable.
Prosecutors move to have ex-priest declared ‘sexually dangerous’
A former Catholic priest who was at the center of the sexual abuse crisis in the Boston Archdiocese could remain in custody even though he has completed his prison sentence, as Essex prosecutors push for him to be declared a dangerous sexual predator.
“Ronald H. Paquin pleaded guilty in 2002 and received a 12-to-15-year sentence for repeatedly raping a Haverhill altar boy between 1989 and 1992. He completed the sentence for three counts of rape of a child in late May, officials said, but remains in confinement until his status is resolved.
“Facing the possibility that Paquin would be released, Essex District Attorney Jonathan Blodgett’s office is moving to have the 72-year-old Paquin declared a ‘sexually dangerous person.’ Blodgett filed a petition to keep Paquin locked up in the spring, before his sentence actually ended, the district attorney’s office said.”
By John R. Ellement, The Boston Globe — Click here to read the rest of this story.
A trailer was released this week for the “Spotlight” movie that follows The Boston Globe’s investigation of clergy sexual abuse of children in the Boston Archdiocese in the early 2000s. The Globe’s Spotlight Team stories led to a 2003 Pulitzer Prize and broke open the abuse scandal in the Church.
Revelations from the Globe’s stories helped fuel the anger, disappointment, and frustration that contributed the growth of Voice of the Faithful. The movie premieres at several film festivals later this summer and is scheduled for wide release toward the end of November.
If you cannot see the video link above or have trouble with the link, click here.
Priests, nuns, and canon lawyers who advocate for molestation victims urged Pope Francis on Wednesday (July 29) to use the new Vatican tribunal he formed on negligent bishops to investigate the archbishop of Newark, who has long been accused of sheltering abusive priests.”
“The plea comes as Francis prepares for his first visit to the United States in September, a trip that will take place against the backdrop of the broad unfinished business of the molestation scandal. The crisis erupted in 2002 with the case of one pedophile priest in the Archdiocese of Boston before spreading nationwide, then engulfing the Roman Catholic Church.
“The advocates, who call themselves the Catholic Whistleblowers, said they will present evidence to the Vatican that Archbishop John Myers has been persistently hostile toward people who come forward with abuse allegations, and had left guilty clerics in parishes in the Newark Archdiocese and in his post as bishop of Peoria, Ill.”
By Rachel Zoll, Associated Press, on Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle meets with members of pontifical commission on sex abuse / National Catholic Reporter
One of the most severe critics of the church’s handling of the sex abuse scandal spent several days last month briefing members of the Vatican commission appointed to advise Pope Francis on the issue.
“In a phone interview Monday (July 20), Dominican Fr. Thomas Doyle confirmed that he met with four members of the commission in London after he was approached to consult with the group by commission member Marie Collins of Ireland, who was raped by a priest as a youngster.”
By Tom Roberts, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this story.
It’s time to end pattern of deceit and denial on clergy sex abuse cases / National Catholic Reporter
Over the decades, the church has made progress in addressing the issue, most notably under Pope Francis with his tribunal for bishops and the forced resignations of bishops who have failed in their handling of sex abuse cases. But all of that still must be accompanied by a serious qualification: None of it happened voluntarily. All of it was forced by public pressure.
“What remains is a void little spoken about but perhaps the longest-lasting and least-attended-to effect of the scandal. The failure of the bishops was not merely strategic or an example of extreme incompetence, though that all was certainly part of the case. The deeper failure was their betrayal, at a sacramental level, of the community they were charged to serve.
“In their deceptions and rationales, they put aside the God of love and justice and mercy. They put aside the God who summoned the little children. They put aside, for venal reasons, the God of life they so ardently preached.”
Editorial by National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this editorial.
The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis and representatives for several hundred alleged victims of clergy sexual abuse are at odds over a seven-minute video that victims want to play following Mass in all 187 of the archdiocese’s parishes.
“The video, in which three alleged abuse victims appear, urges others to come forward and file claims against the archdiocese ahead of an Aug. 3 deadline. Filing formal claims is a critical step for those seeking to share a court-brokered settlement with the archdiocese and its insurance carriers.
“Lawyers for alleged victims have asked Judge Robert Kressel of the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in St. Paul, Minn., to approve a motion that would send the video to all parishes and request that they play the video ‘in connection with each Mass service’ on July 11 and July 12. The request stops short of asking the judge to explicitly order parishes to play the video.”
By Tom Corrigan, The Wall Street Journal — Click here to read the rest of this story.
This essay is adapted from a speech by Dominican Fr. Tom Doyle at the 2014 annual convention of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. It has been edited here for length. The full text of the speech appears in a recently published biography, Whistle: Tom Doyle’s Steadfast Witness for Victims of Clerical Sexual Abuse, by Robert Blair Kaiser and now available at Amazon and Kindle.
“A letter sent by the vicar general of the diocese of Lafayette, La., to the papal nuncio in June 1984 was the trigger that set in motion a series of events that has changed the fate of the victims of child sexual abuse by Catholic clergy and clergy of all denominations.
“The letter informed the nuncio that the Gastal family had decided to withdraw from a confidential monetary settlement with the diocese. It went on to say the family had obtained the services of an attorney and planned to sue the diocese.
“This began a long process that has had a direct impact on much more than the fate of victims and the security of innocent children and vulnerable persons of any age. It has altered the image and role of the institutional Catholic church in Western society to such an extent that the tectonic plates upon which this church rests have shifted in a way never expected or dreamed of 30 years ago.”
By Thomas P. Doyle, National Catholic Reporter — Click here to read the rest of this essay.
While Pope Francis is wowing vast crowds on a triumphant homecoming to Latin America this week (July 7), one of the pivotal moments of his papacy is set to begin back in Rome on Saturday with the opening of a criminal trial for former papal diplomat Józef Wesołowski on charges of sexual abuse of minors.
“Ultimately, it’s the threat of criminal sanctions from Vatican tribunals that underlies new accountability measures Francis has created to face the two most chronic sources of scandal he inherited when he was elected in March 2013 – sexual abuse and financial misconduct.
“The Wesołowski trial is the first major test of that criminal justice system under Francis. And it will have a great deal to say about whether this pontiff’s celebrated vow that there will be no ‘daddy’s boys’ on his watch, meaning clerics able to remain above the law, actually has teeth.”
By John L. Allen, Jr., Cruxnow.com — Click here to read the rest of this story.
The Catholic Church needn’t wait for a national redress scheme. It can act morally now. / The Guardian
By acting unilaterally to adequately compensate victims of sexual abuse, the Catholic church would send a powerful message …
“The Catholic church is but one of the institutions that failed to take adequate steps to prevent children from being molested and raped. The royal commission has exposed many others including the ultra-Orthodox Jewish institution, Yeshivah, the Anglican church and the Salvation Army. The case for distinguishing the Catholic church rests on at least three propositions.
“First, by virtue of its size, the scale of child sexual abuse within the Catholic church is extraordinary …
“(second) Decade after decade, the church shielded criminals within its ranks assiduously …
“Thirdly, the Catholic church ruthlessly protected its assets from victims seeking redress.”
By Josh Bornstein, Commentary in The Guardian — Click here to read the rest of this story.
St. Cloud Diocese to undergo unprecedented abuse investigation
The St. Cloud Diocese faces the prospect of making unprecedented disclosures about priests accused of sexual misconduct, under a ruling filed Monday (June 29) in Stearns County court that builds on a series of legal victories for Minnesotans claiming clergy abuse.
“Judge Kris Davick-Halfen ruled that lawyers can proceed with a ‘public nuisance’ claim against the diocese by an alleged victim of priest sex abuse — a move that allows attorneys to investigate the diocese’s records and documents on all priests who have been accused of misconduct over decades.
“Four of Minnesota’s six dioceses now face similar court-ordered scrutiny. Judges have made similar rulings on the public nuisance claim in the dioceses of Winona and New Ulm as well as the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis. The motion is under advisement in a case against a priest from the Diocese of Duluth …
“’This is a novel strategy that is particularly valuable because it focuses on the need of the public to be warned about potential child predators, said (Marci) Hamilton a law professor at Yeshiva University in New York and a national expert on clergy abuse litigation).”
By Jean Hopfensperger, Star Tribune — Click here to read the rest of this story.