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Lawyers and rights groups call for clerical abuse inquiry

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 10:10 AM PST

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) Irish Legal News March 2, 2018 Lawyers and human rights groups have called for a public inquiry into allegations of clerical child sex abuse in Northern Ireland. Amnesty International said recent revelations of abuse by Father Malachy Finnegan, former president of St Colman's College in Newry, strengthened the case for an inquiry. It pointed out the Catholic Church had itself identified child abuse allegations against 100 priests in Northern Ireland since the 1970s. Solicitor Claire McKeegan of Belfast-based KRW Law, who represents a number of Fr Finnegan's victims, echoed the call. She said: "We have received calls from numerous further victims and witnesses of Malachy Finnegan's vile abuses since the significant settlement by our client known as 'Patrick' was made public recently. "The message is clear: victims demand a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland without any further delay.

More victims of St Coleman's paedophile priest Fr Finnegan come forward

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 10:04 AM PST

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) Belfast Telegraph March 1, 2018 [Note from BishopAccountability.org: This article summarizes some of the revelations from the Nolan Show, February 28, 2018.] More victims of paedophile priest Fr Malachy Finnegan have come forward after a BBC investigation into about his abuses. Last month a BBC Spotlight programme revealed Father Finnegan, a former teacher at St Coleman's College in Newry, had been accused of sexual abuse by 12 people. The programme reported the allegations were reported to police in 1996, but he was not interviewed before his death in 2002. He was employed in the college from 1967 until 1987, serving as a teacher from 1973 until 1976, and as president of the college from 1976 until 1987. The Diocese of Dromore said it had been aware of the 12 allegations against its former teacher, with the first coming to light in 1994, and a second allegation being made in 1998. No further allegations were made until after his death. Appearing on Nolan Live on Wednesday, the BBC's Mandy McAuley, who was responsible for the the Spotlight programme, said she had been contacted by a number of people since the programme aired.

Priest who admitted to child sex abuse worked at St. Mary of the Angels, Archbishop Walsh during ’80s

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:57 AM PST

OLEAN (NY) Olean Times Herald March 2, 2018 By Tom Dinki Diocese says clergyman was assigned to treatment after allegation A retired priest, who admitted this week to sexually abusing dozens of teenage boys decades ago, served in Olean and Portville during the 1980s. The Rev. Norbert Orsolits admitted to The Buffalo News Tuesday he sexually abused "probably dozens" of teenage boys during the late 1970s and early 1980s. Orsolits, now 78 and living in Ashford, was assigned to St. Mary of the Angels Church in Olean from 1982 to 1983 and Sacred Heart Church in Portville from 1984 to 1988, during which time he also taught at Archbishop Walsh High School in Olean. According to Orsolits, he was assigned to Sacred Heart after the Catholic Diocese of Buffalo received a complaint he sexually abused a child and ordered him to receive psychological treatment at a Canadian facility.

Report says claims of abuse in Catholic church and orders 'peaked in 1953'

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:51 AM PST

GLASGOW (SCOTLAND) The Herald March 2, 2018 By Jody Harrison A Catholic Church report suggests levels of sexual assault and rape of children in their care peaked in the 1950s. The academic review of historical allegations of abuse at orphanages and churches uncovered hundreds of accusations made against priests and other figures, stretching back dozens of years, with the high-water mark occurring in 1953. However, campaigners have raised doubts over the figures, saying that the majority of the abuse would have been swept under the carpet and not entered into official records. Dr Ben Torsney, of the University of Glasgow, found almost 400 cases or reports of abuse in Scotland between 1943 and 2005 during a probe launched at the behest of the Scottish Bishops. Recorded allegations reached a peak in 1953 with 124 reports, and then began to fall with no more than five a year between 1990 and 2005, according to the study.

Catholic Church lobbyist concerned about sex abuse bill

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:47 AM PST

LANSING (MI) WILX 10 February 27, 2018 Lobbyists for the Catholic Church in Michigan say they're concerned about a bill that would retroactively lengthen the time limit for victims of childhood sexual abuse to file lawsuits. The legislation is included in a package supported by survivors of former USA Gymnastics and Michigan state doctor Larry Nassar. It would allow accusers to sue up until they turn 48. No specifics were given about the concerns. The catholic church has paid out more than three billion to settle clergy abuse in the US.

Diocese, victim ask insurance companies to uphold policies in lawsuit

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:43 AM PST

ST. CLOUD (MN) St. Cloud Times March 2, 2018 By Stephanie Dickrell Lawsuit hopes to determine which companies are responsible for paying damages to victims of child sexual abuse Two lawsuits are hoping to make insurance companies cooperate in compensating victims of child sexual abuse in the Diocese of St. Cloud. The diocese and a victim of child sexual abuse are asking insurance companies to uphold policies they've issued in past decades, said Josh Peck, an attorney with Jeff Anderson and Associates and a representative of victims making child sexual abuse claims against the diocese. Catholic Mutual Insurance Company has also filed a lawsuit in federal court. Both lawsuits are against other insurance companies ask a judge to determine which companies are responsible for compensating victims of child sexual abuse.

Hollidaysburg woman protests on anniversary of Kane report

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:40 AM PST

ALTOONA (PA) Altoona Mirror March 3, 2018 By Phil Ray Merritts seeks to draw attention to abuse victims Rosalind Merritts, a retired nurse from Hollidaysburg, stood Thursday on the front lawn of the Altoona-Johnstown Roman Catholic Diocese, displaying photos of children allegedly abused by priests and hoping to catch the attention of motorists along busy Logan Boulevard. Despite a driving rain and a bleak sky, motorists were able to spot Merritts, clad in a long, bright yellow rain coat and carrying a large sign bearing the inscription, "PROTEST." Many drivers beeped their horns in support. Merritts is part of the National Survivors Network of Those Abused by Priests, and for her, Thursday was a special day. It was the second anniversary of a grand jury report released by former Pennsylvania Attorney General Kathleen Kane that uncovered hundreds of cases of child sexual abuse by area priests and religious leaders over a 50-year period. The 2016 report led to changes. Altoona-Johnstown Diocesan Bishop Mark Bartchak worked with the former Acting U.S. Attorney Soo C. Song of the Western District of Pennsylvania to develop programs to ensure local children are protected from further abuse by employees of the diocese. Last August, the bishop named seven members to the Diocesan Review Board, which examines reports of abuse to determine their credibility. That board also is to determine clergymen's suitability for the ministry. In January, the diocese created an Office of Children and Youth Protection, another step in protecting the children. Yet cases of past alleged abuse continue to linger. Two officials of the Franciscan Friars Third Order Regular face trial in Blair County Court for failing to protect children from the late Brother Stephen Baker, who was accused of sexually abusing teens at a Johnstown Catholic high school. In December, now retired Judge Jolene G. Kopriva dismissed charges against a former priest at St. Leo's Catholic Church in Altoona, the Rev. Charles Bodziak, accused of molesting two young girls years ago. The case was dismissed because the statute of limitations had expired. In her protest Thursday, Merritts turned her attention toward Pope Francis, who, in Chile last month, accused a sexual abuse victim of slander and who presided over the funeral of Cardinal Bernard Law, accused of covering up child sexual abuse when serving as the archbishop of Boston. She is fighting to extend the statute of limitations so those who were abused years ago may receive justice. She also questions the sincerity of the top officials of the Catholic hierarchy. Merritts spends a day each month on the bishop's lawn along Logan Boulevard, she said, so these victims won't be forgotten. "I don't want this (memory of the victims) to go away," she said. Recently, the sexual harassment of women has come to the forefront because of the "#MeToo" movement. "Hopefully," she said in a letter to the Mirror, "#TimesUp in this country for accepting that the abuser at church, at home, in school or on the teams is to be protected."

Australian Prosecutor Drops a Sex Charge Against Cardinal

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:32 AM PST

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) Associated Press via New York Times March 1, 2018 An Australian prosecutor on Friday withdrew a single charge against Cardinal George Pell, the most senior Catholic cleric to face a sex prosecution. The 76-year-old Australian cardinal will appear on Monday in a court in Melbourne, Australia's second-largest city where Pell was once archbishop, for the start of a monthlong preliminary hearing to determine whether prosecutors have sufficient evidence to warrant a jury trial. Prosecutor Mark Gibson told the Melbourne Magistrates Court on Friday that one charge had been withdrawn.

Key abuse charge against Cardinal Pell withdrawn

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:28 AM PST

MELBOURNE (AUSTRALIA) Catholic News Agency March 2, 2018 By Hannah Brockhaus On Friday, an Australian prosecutor withdrew a charge of abuse against Cardinal George Pell, who is currently undergoing a trial in Australia for accusations of past sexual abuse. The charge was dropped by Prosecutor Mark Gibson March 2 after its key complainant died in January. It is only one of the charges brought against Pell, though the total number of charges and details are not yet public. The next stage of the case begins March 5, with a four-week long preliminary hearing in Melbourne. The hearing, at which Pell will be present, will determine whether prosecutors have enough evidence to hold a jury trial for the charges of abuse brought against the cardinal. The director of prosecutions for the Melbourne Magistrates Court had indicated in a hearing Feb. 14 that the charge of key witness Damian Dignan, who died in January, would likely be withdrawn. Dignan, who died of leukemia in early January, along with a fellow classmate at St. Alipius school in Ballarat, accused Pell in 2016 of inappropriate sexual behavior when they were minors. The cardinal had previously been accused of acts of child sexual abuse dating as far back as 1961.

The Nolan Show

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 09:22 AM PST

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) BBC March 1, 2018 By Stephen Nolan [Stream of 90-minute radio report and call-in show during which (at 48:40) it was revealed that Bishop McAreavey had concelebrated a Mass with Fr Malachy Finnegan in 2000. This revelation and the reaction to it prompted McAreavey's resignation.] Two weeks ago, BBC Spotlight exposed Father Malachy Finegan as a paedophile priest. Since then, victims have been contacting the BBC's Mandy McAuley and the Nolan Show. Last night on Nolan Live, the story moved on. The Bishop of Dromore, Bishop John McAreavey, is now facing calls to resign immediately from his post. Last night, on Nolan Live, victims of the paedophile priest Malachy Finnegan were horrified to hear that despite knowing Finnegan was a paedophile, Bishop McAreavey made the decision to concelebrate mass, with the paedophile fully vested on the altar with him. Victims have now called for his resignation.

John McAreavey resigns as bishop amid abuser controversy

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 08:56 AM PST

DUBLIN (IRELAND) Irish Times March 1, 2018 By Patsy McGarry [Note from BishopAccountability.org: See also the McAreavey statement quoted in this article.] People in Dromore diocese concerned that cleric said funeral Mass for alleged abuser John McAreavey has resigned as Catholic Bishop of Dromore with immediate effect following controversy over his decision to officiate more than 15 years ago at the funeral Mass of a priest known to the diocese as a child abuser. Dromore diocese includes parishes in counties Antrim, Armagh and Down. Fr Malachy Finnegan served at St Colman's College in Newry from 1967 to 1971 and was a teacher there from 1973 to 1976. He was president of the college from 1976 to 1987. Between 1994 and 2016, 12 allegations of abuse were made against him. A BBC Spotlight programme on Finnegan was broadcast last month and included interviews with three of his alleged victims. It had been investigating allegations against the priest over recent months and how these had been handled by Catholic authorities. Prior to the broadcast, Dr McAreavey issued a statement saying the first allegation against Finnegan came to light in 1994, some seven years after he left St Colman's College.

All dioceses must now come clean on pervert clerics

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 08:48 AM PST

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) Belfast Telegraph March 2, 2018 By Malachi O'Doherty Like all members of the Roman Catholic clergy they have pledged themselves to obeying those above them in the hierarchy. Therefore, if they want to remain in good standing with Church authorities they seek permission from the Vatican to go. And sometimes they get it. And sometimes they get the assurance that their departure is neither appropriate nor desirable. There have been huge embarrassments for the Church around the disclosure that bishops and cardinals have failed to report abuse to the police. The outstanding case was that of the former primate, Cardinal Sean Brady, who had debriefed two boys abused by Brendan Smyth, a priest in the Norbertine Order. Cardinal Brady had sworn the boys to secrecy and had seen it as the fulfilment of his duty to report his findings to his bishop, even as the odious Smyth continued to abuse. So Bishop John McAreavey's decision to resign in the face of intense heat from the media is unusual both because it was prompt and because it appears not to have involved consultation with the Vatican.

PSNI establish task force to handle Father Finnegan abuse claims

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 08:38 AM PST

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) Belfast Telegraph March 2, 2018 Police have set up a dedicated task force to investigate complaints about the paedophile priest Father Malachy Finnegan. The priest who died in 2002 was accused of the sexual abuse of 12 children while at St Coleman's College in Newry. He was a teacher at the school from 1967 to 1976 and was later its president for 11 years. * * * Detective Superintendent Deirdre Bones, PSNI Public Protection Branch said: "The PSNI has set up a dedicated team to investigate complaints of clerical and institutional abuse involving Father Malachy Finnegan. "I would appeal to anyone who has been the victim of physical or sexual abuse to report it to the Public Protection Branch in PSNI, who will deal with their reports sensitively and confidentially."

Bishop McAreavy facing calls to resign

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 08:33 AM PST

LONDON (ENGLAND) BBC March 1, 2018 There have been calls for the Bishop of Dromore to resign amid claims he celebrated Mass alongside a priest he knew was a paedophile. Malachy Finnegan, who died in 2002, has been accused of sex abuse by 12 people. Fr Finnegan, a teacher at St Colman's College in Newry from 1967 to 1976, is also accused of a catalogue of physical and emotional abuse against pupils. Bishop of Dromore, Dr John McAreavey, has previously apologised for conducting Fr Finnegan's funeral Mass. Last month, Bishop McAreavey, who was chair of the board of governors at the school, told parishioners in the Dromore diocese that he first became aware of allegations against Fr Finnegan in 1994. * * * On Wednesday, Spotlight NI reporter Mandy McAuley told the BBC's Nolan Live programme that six years later, Fr Finnegan was allowed to help Bishop McAreavey celebrate a Mass to mark the 150th anniversary of the Clonduff parish. She said the paedophile priest was vested - robed in garments - at the Mass in 2000, although he was not the main celebrant.

Bishop John McAreavey resigns after revelations he concelebrated Mass with paedophile priest

Posted: 03 Mar 2018 08:00 AM PST

BELFAST (NORTHERN IRELAND) Irish News March 2, 2018 By Bimpe Archer One of the north's most high-profile bishops has resigned amid controversy that he celebrated Mass alongside a paedophile priest. In a brief statement released through his personal solicitor last night, Bishop of Dromore Dr John McAreavey (69) announced he was leaving his post. "Following media reports which have disturbed and upset many people in the diocese and further afield I have decided to resign with immediate effect," he said. "I shall make further comment in due course." The resignation came amid growing calls for a public inquiry into clerical abuse in Northern Ireland. Just weeks ago Dr McAreavey apologised for celebrating Requiem Mass for Fr Malachy Finegan a paedophile and former president at St Colman's College in Newry.