Saturday, 26 June 2010

Catholic church fights lifting of sex abuse suit limits

The principle behind a statute of limitations is sound – but it falls down hopelessly in cases of child abuse. In all such cases, most victims simply do not report them to anyone, and when they do, their parents often don;t believe them – or choose not to take the matter any further. Although reporting of abuse in the Church has improved, underreporting was particularly high years ago, when the majority of cases now known took place. Many of those victims said nothing until many years later, as adults. To impose a statute of limitations on such cases is effectively to deny the victims any redress, simply because they were children at the time and did not know any better than to keep quiet. Yet the Catholic Church, in Michigan and elsewhere, continues to fight efforts to extend the time frame applicable under the statute of limitations applicable to child abuse.   
Lansing -- The abuse David Collins suffered as a teen from a Catholic priest in the archdiocese of Detroit confused him for decades. He spiraled into alcohol abuse. He suffered years of depression and post-traumatic stress. His relationships suffered because he had trouble trusting others. Twenty-six years after the abuse, he's confused again.
The church has paid for extensive counseling for Collins, 40, of Livonia. Officials from the Archdiocese of Detroit have met with him and been apologetic and sympathetic, Collins said. But the church also is lobbying to stop legislation that would allow victims like Collins from suing the church.
"They say one thing to me and say something else (to others) depending on the context," Collins said. "It seems somewhat hypocritical."
Victims of abuse by Catholic clergy are expressing dismay at the strong lobbying the church is doing in Lansing to halt an effort to remove Michigan's statute of limitations on sex abuse cases. In Michigan, victims must file criminal or civil complaints by the time they turn 19 -- what some say is an unrealistic limit on kids who often are traumatized for years by the abuse.
The church maintains that removing the statute of limitations could open the floodgates to abuse cases that are a half-century old and could take money away from programs that benefit the poor. But victims such as Collins see the church's actions as another example of the church protecting itself rather than victims.

Friday, 25 June 2010

Accused priest given victims file in new church scandal

The Catholic Church are currently investigating claims that the child protection delegate in the diocese of Clone handed over a confidential file containing evidence of child abuse to the priest at the centre of the allegations.

Fr Bill Bermingham was appointed child protection delegate for the the Clone diocese by the Catholic  Church's National Board for Safeguarding Children (NBSC) in 2008. The NSBC is currently seeking to meet with Birmingham to determine his motivations behind the handing over of the confidential file to the accused.
It was revealed that Birmingham took an informal statement from a woman last year and gave a copy of the statement to the accused priest before he was questioned by the police. It has also emerged that several other priests saw the confidential statement.

The alleged victim was made aware of the leaking of her statement and subsequently lodged a formal complaint to the NSBC a few months ago. Archbishop Diarmuid Dunne has been informed of the incident as has the Catholic Church's clerical abuse helpline, Faoiseamh and victim support group, One in Four.
According to the Irish Examiner, Birmingham has not responded too any requests for an interview and the Clone diocese has refused to comment on the situation until the Dublin Archdiocese report is published in the Autumn.

One in Four chief executive Maeve Lewis said she was "horrified by" the actions of the Clone diocese but refused to make any further comments as the victim is one of her clients.
"This action may not have broken specific Church protocol but it is a horrific betrayal of a victim," said Lewis.
Birmingham was appointed child protection delegate for the Clone diocese after child protection standards were found to be "inadequate and in some respects dangerous".
The victim who wishes not to be named released a damning statement:
 "Nothing has changed whatsoever in the past 18 months despite claims to the contrary. "I feel like I have been run over by a number of trains in the way I have been treated by the Church in the past year. 
"I am so angry and appalled any information about me could be passed on to anyone else. Yet I am told no criminal law was broke. Where is the justice for the likes of us?"

Belgium: Does the Cover-up Continue?

One of the repeated claims made by Church authorities to counter the outcry over abuse, is that while they acknowledge past mistakes, these are indeed all in the past, that procedures have been mended, and that in the church as it is now, all is well. Belgian police are not convinced, and have raided the offices of the Bishops’ headquarters, the Archbishop’s palace, and the home of the Belgian Cardinal Godfried Danneels, confiscating computer files and documents relating to ongoing investigations of abuse.

Monsignor Giacinto Berloco, papal nuncio to Belgium and Luxembourg, speaks to police during a raid on the offices of the country's most senior Catholic prelate. Photograph: Matthew Busch/AP
The Belgian Catholic Church has long had an established commission to investigate allegations of abuse, but this appears to have been pretty well moribund until the public outcry over abuse earlier this year led to public declarations of apology and pleas for forgiveness from the bishops, and to one high profile episcopal resignation, of the Archbishop of Bruges, Roger Vangheluwe. The commission was then revived and re-invigorated with a well-respected new leader, child psychiatrist Peter Adriaenssens.

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Vatican asked to investigate Chilean priest sex abuse accusations

Santiago, Chile (CNN) -- The archbishop of Santiago has asked the Vatican to investigate a priest accused of sexually abusing four minors, a church official said.
Archbishop Francisco Javier Errazuriz decided to ask the Vatican to intercede after learning of the grave accusations against the Rev. Fernando Karadima, the church official said in a statement broadcast Friday on CNN Chile, CNN's partner network in the nation, and on the Chilean church's website.
"The strong accusations, their painful airing on television, the scandal they have provoked and the investigative process have produced in our community sentiments of suffering, disorder and lack of faith," Errazuriz said.
The archbishop also asked the Vatican to lift the statute of limitations on any possible infractions because some of the accusations date back many years, Errazuriz said.
Karadima has denied the accusations and said he welcomes the investigation, published reports said.

Sunday, 20 June 2010

Italian priest charged with molesting youngsters

A high-profile former Roman Catholic priest in Italy has been charged with sexual abuse.
Pierino Gelmini, 85, is alleged to have abused 12 young people at a drug rehabilitation centre he had founded.
He denies the charges. Mr Gelmini left the priesthood two years ago to defend himself.

The Comunita Incontro, which runs drug rehabilitation centres worldwide, has enjoyed the support of powerful figures in Italian politics.

In 2005, Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi gave $6m (£4m) to his organisation.

Mr Gelmini set up the Communita Incontro in 1963 in the Umbrian town of Amelia. It has more than 200 centres in Italy - and others in France, Spain, the US, Brazil and Thailand.
The allegations against him surfaced in 2008 when nine young men said he had sexually abused them. Another three went to police later.

The first hearing of his trial is due on 29 March 2011.
(Read the full report at the BBC)

Wednesday, 2 June 2010

German Prosecutors Charge the Head of the Church

Catholic abuse scandal hits head of German Church

(Reuters) - The growing scandal over sexual abuse by Roman Catholic priests threatened Germany's top bishop who was charged on Wednesday with aiding and abetting a known abuser by allowing him to get a new job in a German parish.

Robert Zollitsch, head of the German Bishops' Conference and archbishop of Freiburg, was accused by prosecutors in Freiburg in southwest Germany of permitting a priest accused of child abuse in the 1960s to be reappointed to a parish job in 1987.
The church in Freiburg accused the prosecutors and media of "sensationalism" by talking of charges of "aiding and abetting sexual abuse" against the 71-year-old archbishop and denied that the appointment was his direct responsibility.
(Full report at Reuters)