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Accountability

Oblates settle abuse suits, paying $24.8 million

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WILMINGTON, Del. -- The Oblates of St. Francis de Sales have settled all 39 lawsuits against the order and its Salesianum School in Wilmington under the Delaware Child Victims Act for charges of sexual abuse of minors by its priests.

According to the settlement announced Aug. 4, the plaintiffs in the Delaware Superior Court lawsuits will share $24.8 million paid on behalf of the order with significant contributions from insurance carriers.

Oblate Father James J. Greenfield, provincial of the Wilmington-Philadelphia province, which includes 170 priests, brothers and seminarians, said that while he is grateful the suits are settled, he knows there is more work to be done toward healing and reconciliation.

"We hope that through authentic conversations with those who have been hurt, we can reach this goal together," Father Greenfield said in a statement. "The pain of the survivors is real. Their stories are real. And our response is real.

"I am sorry in the name of all Oblates for anything that an Oblate has done to violate a trust or to harm a person. We are committed to the restoration of trust."

German Catholics are 'weary,' says Jesuit

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In January 2010, Jesuit Fr. Klaus Mertes, headmaster of the prestigious Jesuit-run Canisius College in Berlin, sent a letter to former students of the school informing them that two former priests had been accused of sexual misconduct with students. In the letter, he wrote that he was deeply shaken and ashamed because he had learned that “systematic abuse had taken place at the school over the years.”

Dublin Archdiocese on brink of financial collapse

DUBLIN -- The Dublin Archdiocese is on the brink of financial collapse because of payouts to victims of clergy sexual abuse, according to an internal report.

The report -- prepared by the diocesan Council of Priests and obtained by The Irish Catholic newspaper -- said that "reserves the diocese had built up over decades have been spent on seeking to compensate, somewhat, victims of child sexual abuse by priests."

Vatican publishes documents related to Oregon sex abuse cases

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ATTENTION: There was a mistake in the email alert this morning. You may be looking for this story: Bishops' conscience model makes light of practical reason. Sorry for the inconvenience.

VATICAN CITY -- The Vatican 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.

The case involves the late Andrew Ronan, a former Servite priest who was laicized in 1966; a man who says he was abused by Ronan in Oregon in 1965 has taken the Vatican to court, claiming Ronan was a Vatican employee.

Knights buy John Paul II Cultural Center

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The beleaguered Pope John Paul II Center in Washington, a $75 million monument to the legacy of the late pope that has been financially strapped since its opening in March 2001, will be sold for $22.7 million to the Knights of Columbus. The organization said it will transform the center into a shrine to John Paul.

The sale brings sighs of relief to the Detroit archdiocese, which has loaned the center more than $54 million under an arrangement worked out by former archbishop Cardinal Adam J. Maida, the driving force behind establishment of the facility. The archdiocese will be left with a loss of at least $34 million when the sale is finalized.

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See NCR's editorial on the purchase of the JPII Center: $34 million loss was a theft from the poor
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Maida first approached John Paul with his idea for the center while bishop of Green Bay, Wis., where he served from 1984 until 1990, the year he was appointed to head the Detroit archdiocese. He retired as archbishop in 2009.

$34 million loss was a theft from the poor

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The John Paul II Cultural Center in Washington, D.C., will take on a new identity and purpose thanks to the recent purchase by the Knights of Columbus, who plan to turn it into a shrine to the late pope.

Exactly how the Knights will manage to fund the ongoing operations of a facility that has been a financial nightmare during its 10-year existence has yet to be announced. We trust that the organization’s members have means of letting the leadership know if it doesn’t like what it’s doing with their money.

Unfortunately, such is not the case for Catholics in the Detroit archdiocese who, when the deal is finalized, will be left with a loss of $34 million.

Prime minister's harsh attack on Vatican wins praise in Ireland

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ANALYSIS

DUBLIN, IRELAND -- After the July 12 revelations of the damning Cloyne Report, which uncovered church failures to report allegations of abuse to the civil authorities as recently as 2008 (NCR, July 22), it would have been hard to imagine the crisis gripping Irish Catholicism getting any worse.

That was until Irish Prime Minister -- the Taoiseach -- Enda Kenny took to his feet in parliament July 20 to address the crisis.

In an attack probably without parallel anywhere else in the world from such a senior figure, Kenny accused the Vatican of adopting a “calculated, withering position” on abuse in the wake of the report that accused the Holy See of being “entirely unhelpful” to Irish bishops trying to deal with abuse.

He said the Cloyne Report “exposes an attempt by the Holy See to frustrate an inquiry in a sovereign, democratic republic as little as three years ago.”

Braxton battles on against abuse suit

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UPDATE: For the second time, the Illinois Supreme Court denied the request of the Belleville diocese to hear the appeal of a verdict awarding $5 million to former altar boys who were abused by a priest, the Belleville News-Democrat reported July 30. The final option for appeal is to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, but only if a constitutional issue is raised, according to the News-Democrat.

Cloyne Report fallout: Vatican recalls nuncio from Ireland

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VATICAN CITY -- In an exceptional move, the Vatican recalled its nuncio to Ireland so that he could participate in meetings aimed at drafting the Vatican's formal response to an Irish government report on clerical sex abuse.

Following the publication July 13 of the so-called Cloyne Report "and, particularly, after the reactions that followed, the secretary of state has recalled the apostolic nuncio in Ireland, Archbishop Giuseppe Leanza, for consultations," the Vatican said in a statement July 25.

Background: Wisniewski v. Diocese of Belleville

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Robert McClory's news story about Belleville diocese's appeal of clergy sex abuse case is here, Braxton battles on against abuse case. Following is more details about the case and Fr. Raymond Kownacki's tenure in the Belleville, Ill., diocese.

Wisniewski v. Diocese of Belleville got virtually no press coverage when the trial was held in the circuit court of St. Clair County, Ill., in August 2008. Belleville is a largely rural diocese near St. Louis, and the public by then was tiring of clerical abuse stories.

But the trial still deserves notice, because of the huge award ($5 million) the jury gave the plaintiff, James Wisniewski, because it is only one among a handful of abuse claims against U.S. Catholic dioceses that have been allowed to go to trial, and because the Belleville bishop is still battling to overturn the verdict.

It's particularly important too because of the shocking admissions that emerged during the trial.

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