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Update: Call about legal status led to questions about Nevada Catholic Conference director


UPDATE, July 19: Nevada's two bishops first became aware that the executive director of the Nevada Catholic Conference pleaded guilty to a federal felony charge after someone called the Las Vegas diocese asking about the man's legal status about three weeks ago, the chancellor of the Reno diocese said Thursday.

"That seems to be the first information that we had to the fact that this was out there," said Holy Rosary Br. Matthew Cunningham. After the call three weeks ago, he said, Las Vegas Bishop Joseph Pepe and Reno Bishop Randolph Calvo began engaging in conversation with John Cracchiolo on the matter and "how it needed to be dealt with."

In the middle of the conversations with the bishops, Cracchiolo resigned from the executive director position in an email July 11.

Cunningham said the information on Cracchiolo's past hadn't come up before because the lobbyist wasn't convicted of his felony until 2009, after he had started work with the conference, so "it did not surface in the vetting process."

Background on a Washington diocese's decision to enter into mediation


  • On Dec. 6, 2004, the Diocese of Spokane filed for bankruptcy and submitted a Plan of Reorganization, which provided a fund of $48 million to compensate victims of sexual abuse.?

  • The Bankruptcy Court set March 10, 2006, as the deadline or “Bar Date” for filing of future claims for persons who have claims of sexual abuse occurring before Dec. 6, 2004.
  • ?
  • Under certain conditions, a person who did not meet the March 10, 2006, Bar Date may still make a claim of sexual abuse as a “Future Tort Claimant.” The Plan defines such a claimant as a person who was not aware that he or she was abused or harmed prior to the Bar Date. Future claims can be made until 2016.?

  • A future claims fund was created by setting aside $1million of the total $48 million bankruptcy settlement. In the event that future claims and the awards exceeded $1 million, the diocese was required to recapitalize the future claims fund so that it did not dip below $200,000.?

Prosecutors outline evidence in case against KC priest


KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Federal prosecutors in a case against a priest charged with possession of child pornography outlined Monday some of the evidence they intend to present at the priest's August trial.

Among the material prosecutors said they will introduce in the trial of Fr. Shawn Ratigan is a long list of images of alleged "child erotica" in his possession, a web history that allegedly proves the priest accessed websites specializing in female child pornography, and web searches that allegedly show he was researching "spy" pens.

Altogether, the evidence will allegedly show that Ratigan’s motive in his actions was "to indulge in and satisfy a sexual interest in female children," prosecutors write in their filing, which was first reported by The Kansas City Star Monday.

Ratigan, who had served as pastor of a local parish until his arrest in May, 2011, faces 13 federal counts of production and possession of child pornography.

Majority of bishops' conferences, except Africa, draft abuse policies


VATICAN CITY -- The majority of bishops' conferences in the Americas, Europe and Asia have complied with a Vatican mandate to draw up anti-abuse guidelines, said the Vatican's top investigator of clerical sex abuse.

Without counting Africa, "more than half of the conferences responded" by the May deadline, Msgr. Charles Scicluna of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith said in an interview with the Italian monthly Catholic magazine Jesus.

All those who did not send in their proposed guidelines would be getting "a letter of reminder," he added.

The Vatican newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, quoted from the interview Tuesday and said the congregation received an encouraging number of responses from Anglo-Saxon countries, "but also Europe, Asia and Latin America have high percentages of responses."

While the result is gratifying, Scicluna said in the interview, Africa "has a particular situation with great difficulty in church structures," presumably referring to the lack of needed communications and other infrastructure that help a nation's bishops draw up national policies.

Chaput removes two, returns four priests to ministry


Two more priests suspended after the release of a 2011 grand jury report will be removed from public ministry in the Philadelphia archdiocese, Archbishop Charles Chaput announced late Friday morning.

The priests removed from ministry, Fr. John Bowe, 64, and Fr. David Givey, 68, were found to have violated the archdiocese’s Standards of Ministerial Behavior and Boundaries. Both can appeal the decision to the Vatican.

Previously, Chaput had indicated priests found unfit for ministry could face laicization, life under supervision or a life of prayer and penance.

Kenneth Gavin, associate director of communications for the archdiocese, told NCR that generally speaking, laicization is usually pursued when sexual abuse of a minor occurs. Neither Bowe nor Givey were alleged to have sexually abuse a minor.

In addition, Chaput said that four priests were found suitable for ministry. They are Fr. Paul Castellani, 53, Msgr. John Close, 68, Fr. Steven Harris, 57, and Fr. Leonard Peterson, 70.

Guilty verdict in Philadelphia a first in sex abuse cases


After 13 days of deliberation, the jury in the landmark Philadelphia sex abuse trial has found Msgr. William J. Lynn guilty on one charge of child endangerment, making him the first U.S. church official convicted for the handling of abuse claims.

Lynn, 61, was acquitted on a second endangerment charge and on one count of conspiracy. He faces up to seven years in prison.

Law professor: Philadelphia jury has much to consider in sex abuse trial



With the case now in its hands, the jury continues to deliberate the existence of a conspiracy to cover up priest sex abuse in the Philadelphia archdiocese.

On Tuesday, the seven women and five men of the jury began their third day (and second full day) of sifting through evidence and weighing the testimony they heard over the course of 11 weeks inside a Philadelphia Common Pleas courtroom.

Their task? To determine whether Msgr. William J. Lynn, secretary of clergy for the archdiocese from 1992 to 2004, participated in a conspiracy of covering up abuse and endangered the welfare of children by recommending priests with known histories of sexual abuse to assignments that would further place them in contact with children.

Fr. James J. Brennan, 48, is also accused of child endangerment and sexually assaulting a 14-year-old boy at his apartment in 1996. Brennan originally faced a conspiracy charge at the trial's beginning, but Common Pleas Court Judge M. Teresa Sarmina dismissed the charge after ruling the prosecution failed to prove a conspiracy between him and Lynn.

Priest heading controversial Cleveland community threatened with suspension


Cleveland Bishop Richard Lennon has issued a "Declaration of Loss of Canonical Office" to Fr. Robert Marrone for refusing to step down as pastor of the Community of St. Peter, a congregation that defied the bishop and remained together after its parish, of the same name, was closed in 2010.

Often referred to as a “breakaway” congregation, the community is made up of a majority of the members of St. Peter Parish, one of more than 50 closed by Lennon in a restructuring of the diocese. It also is one of 11 parishes that the Vatican ordered Lennon to reopen, a reversal of his ruling that resulted from legal proceedings at the Congregation for the Clergy.

In an interview with NCR, Marrone said he understood the document to mean he was suspended. In a letter to his congregation, Morrone explained that in a May 22 meeting with Lennon, the bishop expressed his wish that Marrone reconcile with the diocese and then read a statement containing a number of “whereas” clauses ending with the ultimatum that he remove himself from the community within seven days or face suspension from ministry.



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November 20-December 3, 2015


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