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August 18, 2018
These Are Just A Few Of The Chilling Stories Of Abuse Covered Up By The Catholic Church In Pennsylvania
August 18, 2018
For decades, stories about clerical sexual abuse committed by Pennsylvania Catholic priests were reportedly locked away in the church’s secret archives.
These old secrets exploded into the light Tuesday with the publication of a grand jury report into six of Pennsylvania’s eight Roman Catholic dioceses.
The jurors’ 884-page report allowed Pennsylvania Catholics to finally grasp the extent of the abuse ― and cover-up ― in six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton. Over the course of two years, jurors identified 301 “predator priests” and more than 1,000 victims.
Jurors heard stories of boys and girls being groped. They heard about cases of kids becoming victims of child pornography, being made to masturbate with assailants, and being raped orally, vaginally and anally.
Underpinning the horrific crimes in the report are hundreds of pages of documents from the church’s secret archives that the jurors claim show that senior church officials knew the abuse was happening and failed to act properly. Catholic leaders, including former bishops, actively worked to protect abusers and the church’s public reputation, while brushing aside victims’ reports, the jurors claim.
The six dioceses and the accused priests were allowed to include their own responses to these claims at the end of the grand jury’s report. Some priests attached rebuttals, saying that the report included inaccuracies. About two dozen people named in the report petitioned to have their names redacted, claiming their right to due process would be violated if they were identified. The state Supreme Court plans to consider these individuals’ claims in September to determine if those redacted names should be revealed.
The majority of the perpetrators may never be brought to justice. Many are dead, while in some cases, the statute of limitations for bringing criminal charges has expired. That’s why the jurors insisted on naming accused priests and their bishops, and describing the abuse in detail.
“We are going to shine a light on their conduct, because that is what the victims deserve,” the report says.
To highlight the scope of the issue and the need for change, here are just some of the shocking cases of abuse and alleged cover-up documented in Tuesday’s landmark investigation.
August 17, 2018
Mark Alan Feeney and David John Croyle accused of sexual assault of a minor
KITTANNING (KDKA) — A church pastor and a fire marshal in Armstrong County are accused of sexually assaulting a teenage boy.
State police say 55-year-old Mark Alan Feeney, of Applewold, Pa., and 60-year-old David John Croyle, of Kittanning, are facing statutory sexual assault charges.
The two men allegedly sexually assaulted a 14-year-old boy multiple times between April and September of 2016.
Croyle is a church pastor, Kittanning newspaper publisher and the vice president of the Kittanning City Council.
Feeney is a former fire chief and the present fire marshal for two Buffalo Township volunteer fire companies. He has been suspended pending the outcome of the criminal case. Feeney also was on the Applewold Town Council at one time.
Investigators tell KDKA the victim first met Croyle when he applied for a job at the Kittanning Paper.
Croyle allegedly sexually assaulted the teenager inside his apartment.
Troopers say they have text messages and other digital evidence to back up the victim’s account.
Feeney allegedly assaulted the teenager at his home on Ridge Avenue.
Investigators say Feeney and Croyle are acquaintances and they are not ruling out the possibility that Croyle may have introduced the victim to Feeney. They also say there’s no mistaking that both suspects knew the victim was minor.
“It was no accident. There was no mistake of age. It was an intentional act. They knew what they were doing,” Trooper Robert Rottman said.
Croyle and Feeney are in the Armstrong County Jail, both held on $150,000 bond.
August 16, 2018
CAMBRIDGE, MA—Shedding further light on a long history of attempts to protect itself from accusations of criminal activity, biblical scholars at Harvard Divinity School reported Wednesday they have found evidence that the early Catholic church covered up for three wise men who molested baby Jesus. “After deciphering fragments of a previously unknown gospel, we now have textual documentation that clearly delineates abuse by three magi who arrived in Bethlehem and inappropriately touched the newborn Christ Child as He lay in the manger,” said Professor Raymond White, recounting the extensive efforts made by the church to scrub the story from early versions of the Bible and to discredit Jesus’ account of the event in His later sermons. “As described in newly discovered scraps of papyrus dating back nearly 2,000 years, these three magi were powerful men of great influence. Whatever moments of weakness or temptation they may have exhibited on that first Christmas morning, the early church must have seen fit to protect their reputations against any accusation from the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph, who were, after all, very poor.” White went on to note that additional passages from the text explain how the three wise men were quietly relocated and allowed to continue their work in a remote village in Persia.
August 16. 2018
Aryeh Cohen, would be child molester
A Minnesota rabbi who works in student outreach was charged in a child sex sting conducted earlier this year.
Rabbi Aryeh Cohen faces two felony counts of engaging in electronic communication relating to or describing conduct with a child, the Pioneer Press reported.
Some 17 people have been charged in recent days in the undercover operation.
In most of the cases, the men responded to ads posted on Craigslist by undercover agents posing as young women or men seeking a hook-up.
Cohen, 44, who has no prior record, was arrested in February outside an apartment in North St. Paul, where the federal agent posing as a 15-year-old boy suggested they meet after a week of communicating through a hook-up site, the Forward reported.
Cohen was the director of outreach for the Minneapolis Community Kollel, an Orthodox community center that offers seminars and classes on Jewish texts and religious life. He ran the Kollel’s JWAY program for college students and recent graduates. He and his wife, Adina, also led private text studies with male and female students at the Hillel on the University of Minnesota campus, according to the Forward, though he was not employed by Hillel.
Cohen’s name was removed from the Kollel’s website.
The rabbi will appear in court in September. If convicted, he faces up to six years in prison.
August 16, 2018
Grand jury report details sexual abuse by more than 300 priests with more than 1,000 victims in Pennsylvania’s Catholic Church
August 15, 2018
And that just includes six of the ten dioceses in Pennsylvania.
The Catholic Church is the largest pedophilia organization in history.
A new grand jury report says that internal documents from six Catholic dioceses in Pennsylvania show that more than 300 “predator priests” have been credibly accused of sexually abusing more than 1,000 child victims.
“We believe that the real number of children whose records were lost or who were afraid ever to come forward is in the thousands,” the grand jury report says.
“Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all. For decades. Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”
The lengthy report, released Tuesday afternoon, investigates clergy sexual abuse daying back to 1947 in six dioceses: Allentown, Erie, Greensburg, Harrisburg, Pittsburgh and Scranton.
Pennsylvania’s two other dioceses, Philadelphia and Altoona-Johnstown, have been the subjects of earlier grand jury reports, which found similarly damaging information about clergy and bishops in those dioceses.
“There have been other reports about child sex abuse within the Catholic Church. But never on this scale,” the grand jurors wrote in Tuesday’s report.
“For many of us, those earlier stories happened someplace else, someplace away. Now we know the truth: it happened everywhere.”
The grand jurors said that “almost every instance of abuse we found is too old to be prosecuted.” But charges have been filed against two priests, one in Erie diocese and another in Greensburg diocese, who have been accused of abusing minors.
“We learned of these abusers directly from their dioceses — which we hope is a sign that the church is finally changing its ways,” the grand jurors said. “And there may be more indictments in the future; investigation continues.”
And by the way, fuck Pope Francis and all the previous popes who let this abuse exist and flourish.
Willow Creek megachurch pastor and entire board resign amid sexual misconduct investigation of founder
August 14, 2018
Bill Hybels, proving for the millionth time that the only reasons to get into the preacher game are sex and money. And mega-sex.
Bill Hybels, 66, resigned from his position as pastor at Willow Creek Community Church in April after a series of sexual misconduct claims he described as “flat-out lies” became public. Wednesday, lead pastor Heather Larson announced her resignation and that of other church elders, who she said are sorry for not handling the allegations against Hybels properly.
“In recent days and weeks, it has become clear to me that this church needs a fresh start,” said Larson. “The staff, this staff that I dearly love, they also need a clean running lane to heal, to build, to dream.”
She read a statement to a full congregation during a meeting at the church’s South Barrington, Illinois, campus, where the news was met with applause and also protest with at least one person approaching the stage, the Chicago Tribune reported.
“We can now see this investigation was flawed. … We viewed the allegations through the lens of trust we had in Bill, and this clouded our judgement,” elder Missy Rasmussen said in a statement posted to the church’s website.
More: Megachurch pastor Bill Hybels resigns, calls sexual accusations ‘flat-out lies’
Rasmussen said Hybels, who has been accused of suggestive comments, an uninvited kiss, hotel room invitations and an extended affair with a married woman, worked “without the kind of accountability he should have had.” She also said the elders believe Hybels did not publicly admit the extent of his actions.
The elders apologized for not believing the women who came forward, some who directly worked for Hybels.
Lead teaching pastor Steve Carter resigned on Sunday, after hearing of “horrifying” allegations against Hybels reported by The New York Times.
Regional campus pastor Steve Gillen was named Willow Creek’s interim lead pastor. Until someone finds out about Trixie down at the local strip club.
August 13, 2018
With revelation after revelation, a new wave of sexual abuse scandals is rocking the Roman Catholic Church and presenting Pope Francis with the greatest crisis of his papacy.
In Chile, prosecutors have raided church offices, seized documents and accused leaders of a coverup. In Australia, top church figures are facing detention and trials. And in the United States, after the resignation of a cardinal, questions are swirling about a hierarchy that looked the other way and protected him for years.
The church has had more than three decades – since notable abuse cases first became public – to safeguard victims, and itself, against such system failures. And, in the past five years, many Catholics have looked to Francis as a figure who could modernize the church and help it regain its credibility.
But Francis’ track record in handling abuse is mixed, something some outsiders attribute to his learning curve or shortcomings and others chalk up to resistance from a notoriously change-averse institution.
Analysts who have studied the church’s response to sexual abuse, and several people who have advised the pope, say the Vatican has been unable to take the dramatic steps that can help an organization get out from under scandals – and avoid their repetition.
“Each new report of clerical abuse at any level creates doubt in the minds of many that we are effectively addressing this catastrophe in the Church,” Cardinal Sean O’Malley, the archbishop of Boston, warned last month. Failure to take action, O’Malley said, “will threaten and endanger the already weakened moral authority of the Church.”
Francis is credited with some meaningful moves. Last month, he accepted the highest-level resignation to date when Theodore McCarrick stepped down from the College of Cardinals. The former archbishop of Washington and longtime church power broker is accused of sexually abusing adults and minors. He faces a church trial in which he could be defrocked entirely.
But the pope has also had notable missteps. During a January trip to South America, he drew widespread criticism by saying he was convinced of the innocence of Bishop Juan Barros, accused of covering up the acts of a notorious abuser.
Francis sought to recover from that episode by sending two investigators to Chile, apologizing for his “serious errors” in handling the crisis and making a reference – unprecedented for a pope – to a “culture of abuse and coverup.” He invited Chilean abuse victims to the Vatican. He also called Chile’s 34 bishops to Rome, where, according to a letter that was leaked to the Chilean media, he accused them of failing to investigate possible crimes and destroying evidence. The bishops offered to step down en masse. So far, Francis has accepted five of those resignations.
Yet the church has struggled with a more comprehensive effort to close the chapter on sexual abuse.
Whereas transparency is typically advised, the church remains quiet about its investigations and disciplinary procedures. It does not release any data on the inquiries it has carried out. A proposed tribunal for judging bishops accused of negligence or coverup was quashed by the Vatican department that was supposed to help implement it. And, rather than being fired and publicly admonished, offending church leaders are typically allowed to resign without explanation.
“The church doesn’t like removing bishops,” said the Rev. Thomas Reese, a Jesuit priest and a senior analyst at the Religion News Service. “Bishops are vicars of Christ in their diocese. They’re not just McDonald’s franchise owners or local managers that can be fired by the CEO. And the church has always been reluctant to give in to political pressure to remove them.”
Francis has called on churches to maintain a “zero tolerance” policy and warned about the “sin of covering up and denial, the sin of the abuse of power.” But the Vatican declined to distribute to bishops conferences suggested guidelines, drawn up by the commission advising Francis on sexual abuse, for how to respond to abuse complaints and cooperate with civil authorities.
Even when the Vatican does take action, resolution comes “at a very glacial pace,” said Juan Carlos Cruz, who was among the Chilean abuse victims who met for several days with Francis this past spring.
Cruz said he tried to tell the pope bluntly that a deeper shake-up was still needed. He specifically mentioned Francisco Javier Errazuriz, a member of the pope’s powerful nine-member advisory Council of Cardinals, who victims have long said ignored their abuse accusations and tried to discredit them. Errazuriz has denied wrongdoing.
“[The pope] asked us to give him time to act,” Cruz recalled. “He said, ‘I have to pray about this and let the Holy Spirit guide me on what I have to do.’ ”
Meanwhile, in the wider world, the cultural ground is shifting, and other forces are taking the lead on accountability.
A separate movement fighting abuse and harassment in the workplace has helped spread awareness about victims while diminishing skepticism about their stories.
At the same time, law enforcement agencies have been pursuing abuse cases in countries that once treated the church with deference. In Australia, some state and territory governments are even going after one of the church’s most sacred tenets, and are on the verge of enforcing new laws requiring priests to report child abuse that they learn of during confessions. In the United States, the Catholic Church is bracing for the release of a 900-page grand jury report into sex crimes across six dioceses in Pennsylvania.
There have been competing calls within the American church for how to strengthen oversight of the hierarchy. Church leaders in Albany and Atlanta took the notable step of suggesting the involvement of expert laypeople, either to investigate or chart reforms.
“I think we have reached a point where bishops alone investigating bishops is not the answer,” said Bishop Edward Scharfenberger, of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Albany. “We bishops want to rise to this challenge, which may well be our last opportunity considering all that has happened.”
A similar conversation, about how to strengthen the response to abuse, has played out for several years in the Vatican – particularly within the Pontifical Commission for the Protection of Minors, which Francis created a year after he became pope. But little has come of the commission’s ideas.
In 2015, Francis approved its proposal of a tribunal, placed within the Vatican’s powerful doctrine office, that would assess cases of bishops accused of concealing or neglecting abuse. The tribunal, though, was never created. Four former members of the commission, as well as outside analysts, say the idea was thwarted by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Some outside analysts say the objection could have been on legal or logistical grounds.
In an interview published last year with the Corriere della Sera, Cardinal Gerhard Muller, then the head of the doctrine office, said the Vatican already had the “tools and legal means” to handle cases. Vatican watcher Marco Politi said congregation members and others in the Vatican hierarchy were also concerned about opening a “Pandora’s box.”
“This would mean hundreds of cases that would then bounce back to Rome with a huge media impact,” said Politi, author “Pope Francis Among the Wolves,” a papal biography. “It would signify the beginning of hunting season on culprits.”
In turn, Francis used another method to bolster accountability of the church hierarchy, issuing an apostolic letter that made it clear that bishops could be removed from office for negligently handling sexual abuse. But under the current system, any of five different Vatican congregations can be involved in investigating bishops, depending on the accused person’s role and affiliation within the church, and also on whether he has been accused of coverup or abuse. Coverup cases are handled by the same congregations that help to appoint bishops.
“It’s a potential conflict of interest,” said Davide Cito, a canon lawyer at Rome’s Pontifical University of the Holy Cross. “That’s absolutely an issue.”
The stalled effort to launch the tribunal prompted the resignation from the commission of Marie Collins, an Irish abuse survivor. Current and former members of the commission said that they are not given data and information on abuse-related cases being handled by the Vatican. Krysten Winter-Green, a former commission member who was a longtime counselor for abuse victims, said they were up against a “domain of secrecy.”
“The crime in the Catholic Church remains causing scandal, not covering up,” said Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the site BishopAccountability.org, which tracks sexual abuse cases. “Bishops all over the world are not being forthcoming.”
August 10, 2018
Visual tributes to the demise of religion in Europe –
August 10. 2018
South Carolina churches are shedding thousands of members a year, even as the state’s population grows by tens of thousands.
In the place we call the Bible Belt, where generations have hung their hats on their church-going nature and faithful traditions, an increasing trend of shrinking church attendance — and increasing church closings — signals a fundamental culture shift in South Carolina.
At least 97 Protestant churches across South Carolina have closed since 2011, according to data from the Lutheran, Presbyterian, United Methodist and Southern Baptist denominations. An untold number of other closings, certainly, are not captured by these statistics.
Many churches are dying slow deaths, stuck in stagnation if not decline. And if they don’t do something, anything, in their near future, they’ll share the fate of Cedar Creek United Methodist, a 274-year-old Richland County congregation that dissolved last year; Resurrection Lutheran, a church near downtown Columbia that will hold its last service on Sept. 2; and the dozens of churches that sit shuttered and empty around the state.
At the same time, some churches are growing, and some growing quickly. But they might not look much like the churches your grandparents (and their grandparents, and so on) were raised in. From meeting in unconventional places to tweaking their traditions, many churches are adapting, offering something different that many people thought the church couldn’t do for them.
August 10, 2018
Seth Welch and Tatiana Fusari killed their child by criminal neglect