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Tulsa priest put on administrative leave after allegation of sexual misconduct with minor

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 01:27 PM PDT

TULSA (OK) News Channel 2 July 5, 2019 A Tulsa priest has been placed on Administrative Leave by the Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma. In a statement released by Harrison Garlick, Chancellor and in-House Counsel, it was stated: As the head of the Diocese of Tulsa & Eastern Oklahoma, Bishop Konderla is fully committed to the Policies & Procedures for the Protection of Children & Young People. As part of that commitment, Bishop Konderla has placed Father Joe Townsend, a priest of the Diocese, on administrative leave due to a non-frivolous allegation of sexual misconduct with a minor. According to the statement, Father Joe Townsend is presumed innocent. He is fully cooperating with the investigation and denies all allegations of misconduct. The Diocese is asking anyone with knowledge or concerns to come forward at this time. Persons are invited to contact local law enforcement and call the diocesan Pastoral Hotline at (918) 307-4970. Callers to the hotline may leave messages anonymously, if preferred. The Diocese of Tulsa and Eastern Oklahoma say that out of respect for the accused and the alleged victim, no further details will be released until the investigation is complete.

Utah, Arizona dismiss bar complaints against LDS Church lawyer who gave advice on when to report sex abuse

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 12:20 PM PDT

SALT LAKE CITY (UT) Salt Lake Tribune July 5, 2019 By Nate Carlisle In a case that highlighted when lay clergy within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints might report sex abuse, the agencies that regulate attorneys in Utah, Arizona and California have dismissed complaints a prosecutor filed against a lawyer representing the Utah-based faith. Arizona's was the last bar association to dismiss the complaint filed against Joseph Osmond, a lawyer with the Salt Lake City firm of Kirton McConkie. In an April 29 letter, a senior counsel for the State Bar of Arizona wrote that the case had been investigated and staff determined "no probable cause exists for the filing of a formal complaint." "The charges have, therefore, been dismissed." The letter was addressed to the complainant, James Schoppmann, chief deputy of the Mohave County Attorney's Office in Kingman, Ariz. Schoppmann, who shared the letter and similar notices from the Utah and California bars with The Salt Lake Tribune, had complained that Osmond gave legal advice in a state where he was not licensed to practice, and that advice caused a case of child sexual abuse to go unreported for a time. Court documents allege a now-teen was sexually abused from 2006 through April 2016. In January 2018, a grand jury in Mohave County indicted one of the teen's parents on four felony counts related to abuse. Then, in April 2018, another grand jury indicted the second parent on one felony count of child abuse and two felony counts of failure to report child abuse.

Is Reform Possible, Within the Current Institutional Structure of the Church?

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 12:18 PM PDT

Patheos blog July 5, 2019 By William M. Shea Is true and sweeping reform possible under the current government structure of the church? I think not. After all, the first revelation of the spate of crimes took place in 1985, thirty-five years ago. The essential facts were set before the American bishops at the time and they declined to accept the report. They would not discuss the matter. In the Dallas charter of 2002 bishops pointed their reform efforts at priests and ignored their own crimes. For any ordained church leader, low or high, to even suggest a change in clerical authority itself is to make himself a parish. The structure has been many times made a matter of dogma, including at Vatican II. Yet the damage hasn't ceased and that is the failure of church leaders. The Vatican's "cone of silence" squashed even the question of any limit to ordained leadership, not to mention serious public discussion of it. Lack of support Despite an occasional effort, bishops have been unable or unwilling to provide communal support for priests that might sustain their efforts at moral probity and deep spiritual life. Some of this may rest on the lack of spiritual depth and maturity on the part of bishops themselves. It would seem that they do not regard themselves as ministering to priests in spite of official Church rhetoric. Priests have very little if any spiritual community, especially with their bishops. In my own experience in the priesthood I had a five minute discussion with bishops only twice in nineteen years, once to ask for a transfer from a parish (1964) and once when I was resigning (1979), and never with anyone one of the dozen New York auxiliary bishops. When I was desperate at the end of a fifteen year wrestling with celibacy I had to turn to a Jesuit spiritual director for council. I never got the impression that any New York bishop was interested in helping priests. The tragedy of clerical life is not American alone, but is shared by the Irish church as well, and the churches in Canada, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, Australia, Chili and probably the churches worldwide, over the same sins of priests and the same episcopal irresponsibility. The problems are systemic.[1] They must be met systemically.

Dallas Catholic diocese blasted over announcement of allegations against another former priest

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 12:13 PM PDT

DALLAS (TX) Morning News July 5, 2019 By David Tarrant An advocacy group for abuse survivors criticized the Dallas diocese this week for quietly adding a new name to its list of clergy accused of sexual abuse of a minor months after church leaders promised to be open and transparent in cases of clergy sex abuse. The Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, issued a statement Wednesday blasting the Dallas diocese for releasing incomplete information about an allegation regarding Fr. Peter Barusseau from 1960. SNAP's statement said the diocese should have included details about when the accusation against Barusseau surfaced and when diocesan officials decided the allegation was credible. "Given that the Diocese of Dallas has only done the bare minimum when it comes to keeping communities informed about abusive priests, the news about Fr. Barusseau has us concerned that there are other accused priests that have been left off this list," the statement said. The Dallas diocese last month posted Barusseau's name to its list of clergy with allegations of sexual abuse of a minor deemed credible by church officials. His inclusion came five months after the diocese released its initial list of 31 names of credibly accused clergy since 1950. Dallas' list was part of a statewide transparency effort amid public and law enforcement scrutiny on the Catholic Church worldwide over its handling of decades of sexual abuse claims against clergy members. Combined, all Texas dioceses released lists that included nearly 300 names of clergy members who have been "credibly accused" of sexual abuse of children over the past seven decades.

Catholics Walk Out of Sermon After Priest Urges Forgiveness for Sexual Predators

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 12:07 PM PDT

Patheos blog July 5, 2019 By Hemant Mehta Around 70 Catholics walked out of a service after retired priest Ulrich Zurkuhlen urged everyone to practice forgiveness… for predator priests who had been found guilty of molesting children. Zurkuhlen was trying to make the case that no one is purely evil and that the pedophiles were also "good clerics in their communities," but the Church members, some of whom were reportedly victims of sexual abuse, weren't having it. Several parishioners reportedly interrupted the 79-year-old Zurkuhlen and tried to argue with him. A worshipper told Kirche-und-Leben that the situation became chaotic and the priest was not able to finish the sermon. When asked about the reaction his sermon caused among worshippers, Zurkuhlen said that it was "a real shock." He lamented that he was unable to get his point across, especially the biblically important meaning of forgiveness, to what he called "the screaming mob." Ah, yes. That's a good idea. Insult the people making a good point while doubling down on your bad one. The problem isn't his claim that bad people have their good moments. It's that the Catholic Church's leaders have a long history of defending predator priests and ignoring abuse victims until they're forced to do so. Even now, Zurkuhlen seems more interested in finding a silver lining in sexual abuse than seeking justice for victims of the Catholic Church.

UWS Priest Accused Of Molesting Boys Steps Down

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 12:05 PM PDT

UPPER WEST SIDE (NY) Patch July 5, 2019 By Brendan Krisel A Catholic priest has resigned from his Upper West Side parish following multiple sexual abuse allegations, according to a letter sent by the priest to his parishioners. Monsignor John Paddack will step down from his role as the administrator at the Church of Notre Dame on West 114th Street "for the good of you parishioners, the parish, and the church," while the accusations against him are reviewed, Paddack wrote in the letter. Rafael Mendoza went public with abuse allegations against Paddack in March, claiming that the priest molested him as a student at Cardinal Hayes High School in the 90s. Mendoza called on the New York Archdiocese to suspend Paddack so that he cannot have any more contact with children. Mendoza and four other unnamed victims claimed they were abused by Paddack between 1988 and 2002 when the priest taught at three different high schools, according to lawyers representing the alleged victims. "He took advantage of me when I was at my weakest point," Mendoza said Tuesday. "I believe he should be removed. I don't know if he is still [abusing] anyone else or any kids out there." Mendoza said Paddack abused him in 1996 during his freshman year at Cardinal Hayes High School in the Bronx when he was just 14 years old. Mendoza was new to the school and said he was abusing pills and suicidal when he reached out to Paddack, the school's counselor, for help.

Ex-Ann Arbor priest charged with 8 sex assault felonies

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 12:02 PM PDT

ANN ARBOR (MI) Michigan Live July 5, 2019 By Darcie Moran A former Ann Arbor and Jackson priest accused of sexually assaulting an altar boy nearly 30 years ago has been formally charged. Timothy M. Crowley, 70, was arraigned Saturday, June 29 in Washtenaw County on eight felony counts of criminal sexual conduct, court records show. Crowley's arrest was announced in May along with that of four other priests amid a large-scale investigation by the Michigan Attorney General's office into sex abuses in Catholic dioceses. Crowley faces four counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct and four counts of second-degree criminal sexual conduct for incidents between 1986 and 1990 at St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, at 530 Elizabeth St. in Ann Arbor. Michigan's Attorney General is investigating hundreds of complaints of clergy abuse. Ordained in 1976, Crowley served as a parochial vicar in Brighton, Flint and at Jackson's St. Mary, Star of the Sea. He served in Jackson from 1982-84, according to an affidavit filed in his criminal case. There, Crowley is accused of giving a 10-year-old altar boy cigarettes and alcohol, and touching his buttocks and genitalia over his clothing. The boy also attended St. Anthony's in Hillsdale and St. Thomas in Ann Arbor when Crowley served as pastor at those churches from 1984-87 and 1987-93, respectively, according to court filings. Investigators say Crowley repeatedly gave the boy cigarettes and alcohol, and forced him to watch homosexual pornography while Crowley masturbated. They also accuse him of molesting him and threatening to kill him if he told nuns or his parents of the abuse.

Bishops Received Money and Complaints about Bransfield, Report Says

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 11:59 AM PDT

DENVER (CO) Catholic News Agency July 5, 2019 Allegations of financial impropriety against former Wheeling-Charleston Bishop Michael Bransfield went unheeded for years, according to a new report. Letters from lay men and woman, and from Bransfield's own chancery staff raised serious concerns about the bishop's spending and that he was using diocesan resources to "purchase influence." On July 3, the Washington Post reported that concerns about Bransfield's spending were raised as early as 2012 with senior Church authorities in the Unites States and Rome. Several of those to whom complaints were made were themselves recipients of gifts of money from the bishop. Bransfield's resignation was accepted by Pope Francis last September, eight days after he turned 75, the age at which diocesan bishops are required by canon law to submit a letter of resignation to the pope. Following allegations of sexual and financial misconduct by him over a period of years, local metropolitan Archbishop William Lori of Baltimore was ordered by Pope Francis to conduct an investigation. Lori subsequently barred Bransfield from public ministry in both Wheeling-Charleston and Baltimore. On Wednesday, The Post reported that specific concerns had been raised years earlier about the use of financial gifts to Church authorities by Bransfield, and the role they may have played in delaying action against him. In an August 2018 letter addressed to Lori, Bransfield's own judicial vicar, Monsignor Kevin Quirk, said he believed the gifts bought the bishop latitude.

German priest causes church walkout as preaches for predator priest forgiveness

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 07:33 AM PDT

BERLIN (GERMANY) Deutsche Welle July 5, 2019 Retired priest Ulrich Zurkuhlen caused consternation in the city of Münster, northwest Germany, when he dedicated his sermon to the concept of forgiving priests who had sexually abused minors. Zurkuhlen's remarks come at a difficult time for the Roman Catholic Church, as it grapples with continued allegations, from various parts of the world, of priests' predatory conduct and church attempts to cover it up. In 2018, the German Bishops' Conference published a report revealing that 1,670 priests, roughly 4.4% of clerics, had abused 3,677 people between 1946 and 2014 in Germany. The controversial sermon took place in the Holy Spirit Church of Münster. The internet portal Kirche-und-Leben.de (Church and Life) reported that parishioners were incensed, with some 70 members of the congregation walking out in protest. Several parishioners reportedly interrupted the 79-year-old Zurkuhlen and tried to argue with him. A worshipper told Kirche-und-Leben that the situation became chaotic and the priest was not able to finish the sermon. Victims of abuse were said to have been present as the priest spoke. In an interview with Kirche-und-Leben.de, Zurkuhlen griped about the fact that even bishops refer to predator priests as "criminals," despite the fact that these men were also good clerics in their communities. "Nobody is just profoundly evil," the priest said. "Goodness and guilt are often combined with each other or stand side by side without touching," he added.

God, organized religion, or both

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 07:31 AM PDT

PORTSMOUTH (OH) Daily Times July 3, 2019 By Melissa Martin Talking about religion can be a touchy topic—even among Christian believers. The Most Post-Christian Cities in America: 2019 is a recent research study conducted by Barna research; an evangelical Christian polling firm. The ongoing study surveyed a random sample of 21, 378 American adults over a ten-year period. Visit their website for more detailed information. www.barna.com. Please keep in mind that not all studies are created equal and all contain margins of error. Plus, Barna, a for-profit company, is commissioned to conduct research projects and they sell books. Nonetheless, I found the results interesting. How did Ohio fare? Among Ohio's cities, Toledo was highest on the list in the number 35 spot—47 percent of residents considered themselves as post-Christian. In Columbus, 42 percent of residents qualify as post-Christian and the city ranked in the number 59 spot. Youngstown-Warren came in at 41 percent in the number 63 spot. Cleveland-Akron-Canton came in at 39 percent. Dayton and Cincinnati both tied at 38 percent. To be identified as post-Christian, an individual had to meet nine or more of the factors: Do not believe in God. Identify as atheist or agnostic. Disagree that faith is important in their lives. Have not prayed to God (in the last week). Have never made a commitment to Jesus. Disagree the Bible is accurate. Have not donated money to a church (in the last year). Have not attended a Christian church (in the last 6 months). Agree that Jesus committed sins. Do not feel a responsibility to "share their faith." Have not read the Bible (in the last week). Have not volunteered at church (in the last week). Have not attended Sunday school (in the last week). Have not attended religious small group (in the last week). Bible engagement scale: low (have not read the Bible in the past week and disagree strongly or somewhat that the Bible is accurate). Not Born Again. I did not get a call from the Barna group, did you? The southern areas of Ohio are considered to be a part of the Bible Belt region—heavily influenced by socially conservative evangelical Protestantism. Results may have been different based on Belt Bible residents' responses. However, the larger cities in Ohio tell a story about declining Christianity.

Ruth Krall, Looking Slant: Oppressive Ideologies and Belief Systems

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 07:28 AM PDT

LITTLE ROCK (AR) Bilgrimage blog July 3, 2019 By William Lindsey The essay by Ruth Krall that follows below is the fourth in a series of essays entitled "Recapitulation: Affinity Sexual Violence in a Religious Voice," which I've had the honor to publish on Bilgrimage in the past weeks. The first essay in this series appeared in two installments, here and here. The second appeared in another two installments, here and here. The third essay is here. As Ruth's introduction to the essay below notes, it follows on her three preceding essays, which hypothesize the endemic natural of religious and spiritual leader sexual abuse of followers by asking what might be the role played by various ideologies in establishing institutional climates that faciliate abuse and then cover it up. As with some of Ruth's previous essays in this series, I'm posting this one in two parts: part one is below.

Bishop of Chester argued against lifetime ban for paedophile priest

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 07:25 AM PDT

CAROL STREAM (IL) Christianity Today July 5, 2019 The Bishop of Chester blocked a life-time ban from ministry being imposed on a minister who was jailed for child pornography, an independent inquiry has heard. It emerged during a public hearing by the Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse that the Rt Rev Dr Peter Forster recommended that Rev Ian Hughes should instead receive a 20-year ban. This was despite the Church of England's own regulations - called the Clergy Discipline Measure - stating that a lifetime ban should be automatically imposed on ministers with child abuse convictions. The shorter length recommended by the bishop received the approval of the President of the Tribunals after Dr Forster wrote to ask that the guidelines not be applied in this instance. Mr Hughes was sent to prison for 12 months in 2014 over child pornography charges after he was found to have 8,200 indecent images of children in his possession.

Analysis: Vatican calls for trust, Catholics wait for transparency

Posted: 05 Jul 2019 07:22 AM PDT

ROME (ITALY) Catholc News Agency July 5, 2019 By Ed Condon This week, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Penitentiary, issued a document defending the sacramental seal, as civil governments in California, Australia, and other places attempt to pass laws that would force priests to reveal what they hear in the confessional. Piacenza also defended professional confidentiality, including the pontifical secret, and appeared to take aim at the use of leaked Vatican information in the media – suggesting leaks from the Vatican are detrimental to the public good. "In a time of mass communication, in which all information is 'burned' [leaked] and with it often unfortunately also part of people's lives, it is necessary to re-learn the strength of word, its constructive power, but also its destructive potential," the cardinal warned. Following a year in which scandals of episcopal misconduct and accountability have combined to create a crisis of confidence in Church leadership in some places, reaction to the application and violation of confidentiality in the Church illustrates the emerging fault lines in a debate between parts of the hierarchy and faithful, in which both sides accept the need for transparency, though often with very different understandings of the word.