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Accountability

Boston cardinal reflects on abuse scandal's impact

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BOSTON -- "Our church will never forget the clergy sexual abuse crisis," said Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley of Boston in a document marking the 10th anniversary of the abuse scandal that first rocked the archdiocese in January 2002, the reverberations of which continue to be felt.

"The traumatic and painful days we experienced 10 years ago rightfully forced us to address the issue honestly and implement many necessary changes," said Cardinal O'Malley in the 2,500-word document, "Ten Years Later -- Reflections on the Sexual Abuse Crisis," released Jan. 4.

Cardinal O'Malley said that since his appointment in July 2003, "our highest priority has been to provide outreach and care for all the survivors of clergy sexual abuse and to do everything possible to make sure this abuse never happens again."

SNAP leader: Testimony was 'fishing expedition'

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David Clohessy, the director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP), says his court-ordered testimony Monday in the case of a priest accused of sexual misconduct amounted to an "extraordinary fishing expedition" to try and get at the contents of "private communications" between him and sex abuse victims and whistle-blowers.

SNAP director may be forced to testify in abuse case

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The leading advocacy group for child victims of clergy sex abuse may be compelled to turn over 23 years of internal documents, correspondence and email to the attorneys of an accused priest unless Missouri state courts act to quash a court-ordered deposition.

David Clohessy, head of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, known as SNAP, has been ordered to appear for deposition in a county court case involving allegations of sexual misconduct against Kansas City diocesan priest Fr. Michael Tierney.

Victims’ advocates say if Clohessy is compelled to appear, it could have wide-ranging impact on the ability of victims of clergy sex abuse to identify their accusers and tell their stories without revealing their names in public.

A law professor noted for her decades of work with clergy sex abuse victims said the “end result” of Clohessy’s deposition would be “a huge chilling effect on helping child sex abuse victims at every stage.”

Clergy, survivors sign plea for Milwaukee sex abuse victims to come forward

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An alliance of priests, clergy sexual abuse survivors and advocates for abuse victims composed and signed a full-page ad that appeared Dec. 27 in The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel encouraging "victim/survivors" to come forward before Feb. 1, the deadline for filing abuse claims against the Milwaukee archdiocese through an impending bankruptcy proceeding.

Sex abuse scandal in the Netherlands brings requiem for Dutch Catholicism

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Commentary

Last Friday, Archbishop of Utrecht Wim Eijk held a press conference to apologize for the abuse of tens of thousands of children in Catholics institutions in the Netherlands. The abuse was documented in a report that covered the year 1945 onward. Since the story is now a familiar one, the report has merited mention but little sustained attention.

But for some Catholics of my generation, the press conference was a coda, a requiem of sorts. Back in the '70s, Dutch Catholicism represented an open and engaged Catholicism. It embodied a vision of what Catholicism could become in the wake of the reforms of the Second Vatican Council.

Report: Thousands abused by church personnel in Netherlands

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THE HAGUE, Netherlands -- A report on a Dutch inquiry said "several tens of thousands of minors" were sexually abused by Catholic Church personnel between 1945 and 2010, and it faulted church leaders for covering up the abuse and failing to help victims.

Dutch bishops and heads of religious orders expressed "shame and sorrow" at the revelations and pledged to "take all measures provided for under church and civil law" to prevent and punish such abuse in the future.

The report, issued Dec. 16, was the result of a lengthy independent inquiry requested by the Dutch bishops' conference and the Conference of Dutch Religious. The commission that conducted the study had access to church archives, and it received 1,795 specific reports of sexual abuse of minors in the church; it also conducted a survey to estimate the scale of abuse over the 65-year period.

The report estimated that between 10,000 and 20,000 children who spent part of their youth in a Catholic institution in the Netherlands suffered abuse by church personnel.

Priests for Life founder: Group 'is in jeopardy'

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Fr. Frank Pavone, the high-profile pro-life priest whose bishop has restricted his ministry because of questions about the finances of the group he runs, told his benefactors in a letter that the organization's existence is in serious doubt.

Pavone, head of Priests For Life, sent a fundraising letter to supporters in early December to tell them that "all of our work at Priests for Life, indeed the very existence of Priests for Life, is in jeopardy."

"Contributions are not nearly where they need to be in order to sustain all that Priests for Life is doing," Pavone writes. "But no matter how much you choose to give, whether a one-time gift of $160 today or a monthly Pledge of at least $27, it is absolutely vital that you respond TODAY" (emphasis included).

Pavone blames "many in the news media -- and sadly even some whom we thought were our friends in the pro-life movement -- to destroy Priests for Life and silence our voice ..."

Judge: No questioning Vatican officials in abuse case

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PORTLAND, Ore. -- A federal judge in Portland has declined to order face-to-face questioning of Vatican officials in a lawsuit claiming that the Vatican was the employer of an abusive priest in the 1960s.

U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman ruled Dec. 1 that attorneys for the plaintiff in the case, John V. Doe v. Holy See, had not proven the need for an exception to the immunity given to foreign nations under U.S. law.

The Vatican has published online more than 70 pages of documents which, it said, prove the Vatican had no knowledge of a priest's sexual misconduct until he and his religious order petitioned for his laicization. It also has provided more than 1,800 pages of documentation to the court.

The case involves the late Andrew Ronan, a former Servite priest who was laicized in 1966. A man, now 63, who says he was abused by Ronan in Oregon in 1965 is seeking to hold the Vatican legally responsible, saying Ronan was a Vatican employee.

California priest jailed on teen molestation charge

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A 32-year-old priest in the Diocese of Sacramento in California is being arraigned Friday on two counts of lewd and lascivious acts with a 14-year-old girl.

Fr. Uriel Ojeda, parochial vicar at Our Lady of Mercy Parish in Redding, Calif., surrendered to police Nov. 30, one day after diocesan officials received the complaint and reported it to Sacramento County Child Protective Services and the Sacramento Police Department.

At a press conference Thursday when the arrest was announced, Bishop Jaime Soto said Ojeda has been placed on administrative leave, meaning that he may not perform any of the duties of a priest.

"I have personally spoken to the family involved," Soto said at the press conference. "They are in great pain. They have been very brave in bringing this forward. We will do everything we can to make sure they get the help they need. I admire the courage with which they have come forward to bring this to my attention so that we can bring this to the attention of authorities.

Pope: Others should be held to same abuse 'standards'

VATICAN CITY -- Pope Benedict XVI told bishops from New York state that "all other institutions" in society should be held to the same "exacting standards" as the Roman Catholic Church in preventing and reporting sex abuse.

Benedict spoke on Saturday, one day before New York's Syracuse University announced that it had fired its associate men's basketball coach, Bernie Fine, over charges that he had sexually abused young boys.

Speaking to a delegation led by New York Archbishop Timothy M. Dolan, the pope praised the bishops' "honest efforts" at protecting children against sex abuse, and dealing "appropriately and transparently with allegations as they arise."

"It is my hope that the church's conscientious efforts to confront this reality will help the broader community" to understand and respond to sex abuse, Benedict said.

The pope also encouraged the bishops in their efforts to confront the "grave challenges ... presented by an increasingly secular society," including "attempts to still the church's voice in the public square."

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