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Clergy still believe some complainants are 'simply out for the money', abuse expert tells church leaders

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 02:02 PM PST

ENGLAND The Telegraph February 10, 2018 By Olivia Rudgard Clergy believe some abuse complainants are "simply out for the money", an expert has told General Synod. Roger Singleton, a former chair of the Independent Safeguarding Authority, said that while attitudes among church members had improved, some priests still treated abuse allegations with "ambivalence, even hostility," and were "unable or unwilling to accept the need for sensible, proportionate measures" to prevent abuse. As part of an update by church leaders on the Church of England's preparation for a series of abuse inquiries later this year, the former chief adviser to the government on the safety of children said some clergy "minimise the impacts which physical, sexual, emotional or spiritual abuse can have on people's lives". In some cases, he said, they "believe that complainants are simply out for the money". He added that the Church needed to "grasp the nettle of dealing with clergy, readers, priests with PTO [permission to officiate] and lay leaders who persistently fail to attend training opportunities or speak disparagingly about reasonable safeguarding measures". The bishop of Leeds also said that relations with the police needed to be improved, and said bishops were "frustrated by having to take the rap for things which are not our responsibility".

Catholic Church's massive wealth revealed

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 02:00 PM PST

AUSTRALIA The Sydney Morning Herald February 12, 2018 By Royce Millar, Ben Schneiders, and Chris Vedelago The Catholic Church in Australia is worth tens of billions of dollars, making it one of the country's biggest non-government property owners, and massively wealthier than it has claimed in evidence to major inquiries into child sexual abuse. A six-month investigation by The Sydney Morning Herald has found that the church misled the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse by grossly undervaluing its property treasures in both NSW and Victoria while claiming that increased payments to abuse victims would require cuts to its social programs. The investigation was based on intricate data from local councils that allowed more than 1860 valuations of church-owned property in Victoria. That showed that across 36 municipalities - including nearly all of metropolitan Melbourne - the church had land and buildings worth almost $7 billion in 2016. Extrapolated nationally, using conservative assumptions, the church owns property worth more than $30 billion Australia-wide. This put the Catholic church among the largest non-government property owners, by value, in NSW and Australia, rivalling Westfield's network of shopping centres and other assets. It dwarfs all other large property owners. "These figures confirm what we have known; there is huge inequity between the Catholic Church's wealth and their responses to survivors," said Helen Last, chief executive of the In Good Faith Foundation. "The 600 survivors registered for our Foundation's services continue to experience minimal compensation and lack of comprehensive care in relation to their Church abuses. They say their needs are the lowest of church priorities.''

At the #metoo Olympics, organizers confront sexual abuse

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:57 PM PST

PYEONGCHANG (SOUTH KOREA) The Associated Press February 12, 2018 By Claire Galofaro A Catholic nun waits eight hours each day at a folding table, ready for a call but praying nothing has happened to cause the phone to ring. Her office, the "Gender Equality Support Centre," a tiny trailer tucked between a bathroom and a police post under the ski lift at the Phoenix Snow Park, is a nondescript acknowledgment of the revolution in women's rights that, outside the Olympic gates, is thundering through the world. Sungsook Kim — who goes by her religious name, Sister Droste — speaks little English. But to describe her mission, she says the name of the American movement: "me too." The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang arrives amid the reckoning that has brought down celebrities, politicians and the entire board of U.S.A Gymnastics. NBC star Matt Lauer was fired for sexual misconduct, and his accuser said the harassment began at the last Winter Olympics, in Sochi. During the Summer Games in Rio, two athletes were accused of assaulting housekeepers. A horrified world recently watched dozens of women and girls, some of them Olympians, describe in detail how Larry Nassar, the gymnastics doctor, had sexually abused them for decades as layers of elite athletic organizations failed to stop it.

With $30b in wealth, why is the Catholic Church struggling to pay for justice?

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:54 PM PST

WOLLONGONG (AUSTRALIA) Illawarra Mercury February 12, 2018 By Ben Schneiders, Royce Millar, and Chris Vedelago After a lifetime contributing to the Catholic Church, Neil Ormerod could give no more. Following a Sunday mass in 2014, the Australian Catholic University theology professor told his parish priest he no longer trusted the church to use its resources in a way Jesus Christ would approve. The trigger for his rebellion was the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse in 2014 - in particular, Cardinal George Pell's testimony about the church's brutal legal assault on John Ellis, a former altar boy abused by a priest in the 1970s. When Ellis finally confronted the Sydney archdiocese in 2002, then led by Pell, it offered him $25,000 in compensation, which he rejected. The church then dismissed Ellis's proposal for a $100,000 settlement, instead spending $800,000 fighting him in court, successfully arguing it could not be sued because it did not exist as an entity. The church threatened to pursue Ellis for its legal costs. "That money was the accumulated wealth of generations of good faithful Catholics who gave with the best will in the world," says Ormerod. "It was used in an immoral attack on an abuse survivor and church member."

Church facing years of shame as extent of abuse emerges, bishop warns

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:52 PM PST

ENGLAND Christian Today February 10, 2018 By Harry Farley The Church of England has upped its spending on safeguarding five-fold since 2014 as it attempts to address hundreds of abuse allegations against clergy and officials. Despite this rapid increase in spending, Peter Hancock, the Bishop of Bath and Wells and the CofE's lead on safeguarding, warned the Church faces a painful couple of years as it goes before the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (ICCSA)'s public hearings. 'This will not be an easy couple of years – we will hear deeply painful accounts of abuse, of poor response, of "cover up",' he told the ruling general synod on Saturday. The Church, he added, will 'feel a deep sense of shame'. In a presentation on safeguarding to the synod, he said: 'For too long, the Church has not responded well to those who allege abuse within our church communities. This is now changing and further change is needed.' He added that while progress was made on safeguarding as a result of the spike in spending, the pace of that change must accelerate even more. Figures revealed to synod revealed the Church dealt with 3,300 safeguarding cases in 2016 alone, around 594 of which were claims against clergy and officials. These include a mixture of new and historic accusations. 'I want to pay tribute to victims and survivors of abuse, regardless of their age or the circumstance in which the abuse took place or how long ago it took place. I have been humbled by their courage,' he said.

Children’s Publishing Reckons with Sexual Harassment in Its Ranks

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:50 PM PST

NEW YORK (NY) School Library Journal January 3, 2018 By Drew Himmelstein A writer was making small talk during the Society of Children's Book Writers and Illustrators' (SCBWI) annual conference when she says the man she was chatting with, a successful children's book illustrator, reached over and touched her hair. "He fondled a lock of my hair and leaned in to my ear and said, 'You're kinky, aren't you?'" says the writer, who asked not to be identified. (See updated story: "Ishta Mercurio Goes Public as David Díaz Accuser.") The exchange, which happened in 2012 at SCBWI's winter conference in New York and was witnessed by one of the writer's friends, left the woman feeling "horrified" and "disgusted." The illustrator, David Díaz, was a member of SCBWI's board and a faculty member at the conference. Still, the writer, who at that point in her career was an unpublished aspiring children's book author, did not complain about the incident at the time. However, in December 2017, Díaz resigned from his position on the SCBWI's board, after sexual harassment complaints emerged about his past.

Cardinal Cupich defends Pope’s record on doctrine and abuse

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:35 PM PST

ENGLAND Catholic Herald February 10, 2018 By Dan Hitchens Cardinal Cupich called for a 'paradigm shift' in pastoral practice and said that the Pope recognised the need to 'listen' to abuse survivors Cardinal Blase Cupich has defended Pope Francis's record and called for a "paradigm shift" in Catholic practice. Addressing the Von Hügel Institute at St Edmund's College, Cambridge, under the title "Pope Francis' Revolution of Mercy: Amoris Laetitia as a New Paradigm of Catholicity", Cardinal Cupich called for "a major shift in our ministerial approach that is nothing short of revolutionary". The hoped-for "paradigm shift", the cardinal said, would be from an approach focused on "the automatic application of universal principles" to one which is "continually immersed" in "concrete situations". Vigorous debate has followed the publication of Amoris Laetitia in April 2016, with different cardinals, bishops and theologians advancing varying interpretations.

Catholic Church national wealth estimated to be $30 billion, investigation finds

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:33 PM PST

AUSTRALIA Australian Broadcasting Corporation February 12, 2018 By Emily Bourke There are calls for the Catholic Church's tax-free status to be reviewed after a Fairfax investigation revealing the extent of property, assets and investments owned by the church in Australia. Fairfax's six-month investigation found the Catholic Church was worth more than $9 billion in Victoria alone. The investigation extrapolated that figure to estimate the church's national wealth at $30 billion. The Age's journalists obtained property valuations from dozens of Victorian councils. They found 1,800 church-owned properties, including churches, presbyteries, schools, nursing homes, hospitals, offices, tennis courts and even mobile phone towers. But beyond real estate, there was superannuation, telecommunications, Catholic Church Insurance and Catholic Development Funds, which serve as an internal treasury. Catholics for Renewal's Peter Johnstone, a corporate governance consultant, said most Catholics would have no idea about the extent of the church's assets. "Certainly there's been no public record available to Catholics," he said.

Tribune Editorial: Sen. Hatch, and the LDS Church, minimize domestic violence

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:31 PM PST

SALT LAKE CITY (UT) The Salt Lake Tribune February 11, 2018 Now that Sen. Orrin Hatch has announced his retirement, it appears that his handlers have taken the muzzle off. Hatch made headlines this past week after he cavalierly dismissed reports of spousal abuse by his former chief of staff, Rob Porter. Porter resigned as staff secretary to President Trump after information about his alleged physical and mental abuse of two ex-wives became public.

How the Ballarat Diocese is paying for abuse survivors compensation

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:29 PM PST

BALLARAT (AUSTRALIA) The Courier February 12, 2018 By Rochelle Kirkham The Catholic Diocese of Ballarat has revealed it is confident it will be in a financial position to meet all compensation claims for survivors of abuse. The Ballarat Diocese has paid over $4.9 million in compensation to survivors of child sexual abuse and over $1 million in pastoral support to abuse survivors so far. Diocecan business manager Andrew Jirik said the diocese would continue to meet compensation claims from its assets and insurance. "The Diocese of Ballarat has drawn these funds from its own resources, including its insurer where its policies apply, without recourse to the assets of its 51 parishes which belong to local parish communities across the diocese," Mr Jirik said. "The diocese has been able to meet all claims to date and is confident that it will be in a position to continue to do so."

Catholic Church asked to acknowledge priest's daughter

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:27 PM PST

AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) Radio NZ February 12, 2018 By Phil Pennington Kathleen* holds the rosary that was her mother's. On the living room wall behind her is the wooden cross that was her father's. Her father was a Catholic priest. He took Holy Orders. He had a high profile in the Auckland diocese, said Kathleen. He was meant to be celibate.

Top U.S. diplomat highlights mandatory sexual harassment training

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:25 PM PST

CAIRO Reuters February 12, 2018 CAIRO (Reuters) - U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Monday urged department employees to intervene if they witness sexual harassment, two days after U.S. President Donald Trump expressed sympathy for those accused of harassment and not given due process. "There is no form of disrespect for the individual that I can identify, anything more demeaning than for someone to suffer this kind of treatment," he said. "It's not OK if you're seeing it happening and just look away. You must do something. You must notify someone. You must step in and intervene," Tillerson added, speaking in Cairo to about 150 U.S. embassy staff outside the ambassador's residence. Tillerson's comments came amid a chorus of sexual misconduct accusations against powerful men in media, business and politics in the United States that in recent days has reached top aides in the White House. His remarks also stand in stark contrast to those expressed by Trump, who last week defended a top aide who resigned after domestic violence allegations against him came to light and over the weekend also took to Twitter to raise doubts about such allegations. A second White House aide left late last week after domestic violence allegations against him also surfaced. Both men have denied the accusations. Reuters has not independently verified either case.

Chile Sex-Abuse Victim: 'Vatican Investigation Must Be Fair'

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:17 PM PST

CHILE TeleSurTV February 9, 2018 Juan Carlos Cruz said Pope Francis had "set the clock back years and years" with his recent comments casting doubt on the credibility of victims of abuse. A Chilean victim of clerical sexual abuse who is the key witness in the case of a bishop accused of covering it up says a Vatican investigation must be rigorous and fair if the church is to salvage its reputation on the issue. In a telephone interview with Reuters from his home in the United States on Thursday, Juan Carlos Cruz said Pope Francis had "set the clock back years and years" with his recent comments casting doubt on the credibility of victims of abuse. On Jan. 30, the Vatican said the pope had appointed the church's most experienced sexual abuse investigator to look into accusations that Bishop Juan Barros of the diocese of Osorno in Chile had covered up crimes against minors. It was a dramatic U-turn for the pope, who eight days earlier told reporters aboard his plane returning from Latin America he was sure Barros was innocent and that the Vatican had received no concrete evidence against him. Cruz said he had been "very touched and grateful" when the investigator, Archbishop Charles Scicluna of Malta, telephoned him to arrange a meeting in New York next week on his way to Chile.

Call for church to acknowledge priest was woman's father

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:13 PM PST

AUCKLAND (NEW ZEALAND) Radio New Zealand February 12, 2018 An Auckland woman is breaking a half century of secrecy around her father. It's believed to be the first time in New Zealand that the child of a supposedly celibate Catholic priest has gone public. This comes after an international support website told RNZ a week ago, that half a dozen New Zealanders have contacted it saying they are the children of priests. The priest, who has since died, had a high profile in the Auckland Diocese. RNZ has seen the evidence he is the father - as has Bishop of Auckland Patrick Dunn. An Auckland woman is asking the Catholic church to acknowledge her father was a priest. The unnamed woman says her father was forced to keep the secret for decades as Catholic priests are meant to be celibate, RNZ reported. The woman had received scientific evidence the priest was her father, and had taken that to Auckland Bishop Pat Dunn.

Former Priest Charged With Sexual Abuse Pleads to Battery

Posted: 12 Feb 2018 01:11 PM PST

AURORA (IL) NBC Chicago February 11, 2018 His attorney says he expects Pedraza-Arias to leave the country soon A former Catholic priest in suburban Chicago who was charged with sexually abusing two girls is likely returning to his native Colombia soon after pleading guilty to misdemeanor battery. The Kane County State's Attorney's office says it agreed to the plea deal Friday after prosecutors analyzed evidence, communicated with the victims' families and received assurances that Alfredo Pedraza-Arias will be "removed from the United States." A jail official says Pedraza-Arias was released Saturday "to the custody of another agency" but wouldn't elaborate. His attorney says he expects Pedraza-Arias to leave the country soon. Pedraza-Arias was charged in 2016 with aggravated criminal sexual abuse of two girls younger than 13 after he allegedly abused one of them at Sacred Heart Church in Aurora and the other at her Aurora home.