Child Abuse

Catholic Order Covered up for Irish Priest Who Molested 100 Girls

Image via REUTERS/Cathal McNaughton/RNS

A religious order covered up the sexual crimes of an Irish priest who abused more than 100 children, some as young as 6, according to a new report.

The failures of the Salvatorian order to act on the crimes of a priest named “Father A” were outlined in a report released May 4 by Ireland’s National Board for Safeguarding Children in the Catholic Church.

Wheaton Group Blasts College's Silence Over Hastert Abuse Confession

Image via REUTERS/Frank Polich/RNS

Gay students, supporters, and alumni at Wheaton College, a top evangelical Christian school that counts former House Speaker Dennis Hastert among its most famous grads, have told the administration they are “stunned” the college has not condemned the sexual abuse of boys that Hastert admitted committing when he was sentenced last Wednesday for fraud in trying to cover up the abuse.

Cardinal George Pell Admits 'Indefensible' Errors in Abuse Crisis

Cardinal George Pell. Public domain image

Australian Cardinal George Pell, now a top adviser to Pope Francis, testified in a landmark clergy sex abuse inquiry that the Catholic Church made “enormous mistakes” in trying to deal with the scandal. Speaking to an Australian commission investigating the church’s response to abuse, Pell — who had previously been archbishop in Sydney — also said that during the 1970s he was “very strongly inclined to accept the denial” of a priest accused of abuse.

How 'Spotlight' Missed the Story

Image via Open Road Films/RNS

It is just a single line of dialogue from Spotlight, up for Best Picture and five other Academy Awards Feb. 28, but it could be a movie in itself. It’s an allusion to an entire unknown chapter in the history of the Catholic Church sex abuse scandals: the role of National Catholic Reporter in first uncovering the clerical conspiracy to shield abusing priests.

“Have you read Jason Berry’s book? He wrote about the Gauthe case,” an abuse survivor asks the team of investigative reporters featured in the film.

Sex Abuse Victim Allegedly Sidelined by Papal Panel

Peter Saunders. Image via REUTERS/Tony Gentile/RNS

One of the two victims of clerical sexual abuse serving on a Vatican commission set up by Pope Francis has apparently been sidelined. The Holy See on Feb. 6 said Peter Saunders, a British Catholic who was abused by Jesuit priests as a teenager, is taking a “leave of absence” from the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors.

‘Spotlight’ Was Just Nominated for 6 Oscars. But Will Journalists Dig up the Next Faith Scandal?

The cast of Spotlight. Image via Open Road Films/RNS

A few months before Robert W. Finn became bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, I interviewed him for The Kansas City Star about the challenges he might face when he replaced the much-loved Bishop Raymond Boland. Of course, neither Finn nor I had any way of knowing that a decade-plus later he would resign in disgrace, having been convicted of the misdemeanor crime of failing to notify law enforcement authorities about a suspected child-abusing priest in the diocese — a priest who now spends his time in prison.

Catholic Diocese of Duluth Latest to File for Bankruptcy Over Sex Abuse Payouts

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The Roman Catholic Diocese of Duluth announced on Dec. 7 that it had filed for bankruptcy protection following a jury verdict last month that held the Minnesota diocese responsible for more than half of an $8.1 million judgment on behalf of a victim of sex abuse by a priest.

The Chapter 11 filing makes Duluth the 13th of nearly 200 U.S. Catholic dioceses to file for bankruptcy since 2004 because of the clergy sex abuse scandals. Regional organizations of two religious orders have also sought bankruptcy protection.

The Duluth award was one of the highest single monetary compensations for a survivor of clergy abuse, experts said. It was made possible thanks to a Minnesota law that lifted the statute of limitations on civil claims for sex abuse.

Domestic Violence: Are the Children Safe?

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There are many reasons for divorces and one of them is domestic violence. It’s true that there are women and men who experience domestic violence and never leave the marriage; they only want to cleave while others leave for their dear life. Domestic violence can be viewed as family violence but there are family members from whom we may rarely hear in these situations, namely children. Most certainly, domestic violence impacts the perpetrator and victim yet if there are children in the same space, they, too, will be affected. They, too, may even be beaten, battered, and bruised. This is the blues-inflected struggle of life.

The book of Mark focuses a lot on the suffering of Jesus. Pain seems to have some privilege in the way Mark preaches the gospel. He keeps it real. Mark is a truth-teller because even today many travel a trail of tears. The level of pain and the type of pain vary. But the honest truth is that life is not a bouquet of sweet-smelling roses. There are thorns and fractures. There is brokenness — broken bodies and relationships — so it is of no surprise per se when we see Jesus and the Pharisees engage in a conversation about marriage and divorce, topics that may heighten our awareness of human brokenness in our society. It’s no secret that many marriages fail and end in divorce, whether they are people of faith or not.

Pope Francis' Words on Abuse Vary by His Audience

Image via Dado Ruvic / Reuters / RNS

On his first full day of the visit, Francis praised U.S. bishops for their “courage” in facing the difficult moments of the explosive clergy abuse scandal “without fear of self-criticism and at the cost of mortification and great sacrifice.”

Listeners, however, were shocked, mindful that the church has spent hundreds of millions in settlement payouts — often after years of protracted legal fights — to compensate for decades of bishops who protected, even promoted, abusive priests.

He sounded “tone-deaf,” said Vatican expert the Rev. Thomas Reese.

Indiana Pastor Accused of Battering Kids in Boarding School

Gerald Harris. Image via Clark County Detention Center / RNS

A Sellersburg, Ind., pastor and fellow church workers are accused of beating multiple children in their care with a wooden paddle.

Clark County Prosecuting Attorney Jeremy Mull said the alleged abuse occurred at Crossroads Baptist Church, led by Pastor Gerald Harris. It operates a boarding academy complete with dormitories and classrooms for mostly out of state students, he said.

While parents, teachers and caretakers are allowed to discipline children “in a legal way,” Mull said, the bruising allegedly seen on the children constituted criminal abuse.

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