The number of people who have no religion has risen 266 per cent – one third of the population – in three decades

April 5, 2019

  • People with no religion accounted for 23.1% of the U.S. population in 2018
  • By comparison, Catholics make up 23% and Evangelicals account for 22.5%
  • The three are now statistically tied as the largest religious groups in America
  • Meanwhile, mainline Protestant Christianity has seen a 62.5% decline in believers since 1982, to now account for just 10.8% of the U.S. population

The number of Americans who identify as having no religion has risen 266 percent since 1991, to now tie statistically with the number of Catholics and Evangelicals, according to a new survey.

People with no religion – known as ‘nones’ among statisticians – account for 23.1 percent of the U.S. population, while Catholics make up 23 percent and Evangelicals account for 22.5 percent, according to the General Social Survey.

Those three groups now represent the largest the religious groups in America.

This graph illustrates the shift in religious ideologies since 1972, with a sharp decline in the number of mainline Protestant Christians and a dramatic uptick in the number of people with no religion. Known as 'nones' those religion-free Americans are now statistically tied with Catholics and Evangelicals as the largest religious groups in America

The survey has tracked a broad swath of American trends since 1972, offering comprehensive insight into the evolving face of religion over more than four decades.

Ryan Burge, a political science professor at Eastern Illinois University who analyzed the data, said that experts have several theories about why the number of ‘nones’ has risen so dramatically in recent decades.

‘One of them is that many people used to lie about what they were,’ he told ‘Many people were (always) atheist or non-religious, but it was previously culturally unacceptable to not have a religion in America.’

Catholic priests burn Harry Potter books in Poland

April 2, 2019

Warsaw (AFP) – Catholic priests in Poland burned books they say are sacrilegious this weekend, including tomes from British author J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series of fantasy novels.

“We obey the Word,” priests said in a Facebook post showing photographs of the public book burning and quoting Biblical passages from the book of Deuteronomy in the Old Testament.

One passage exhorting believers to destroy the enemies of God includes the command to “burn their idols in the fire”.

The post, on a page run by the Catholic “SMS from Heaven” evangelical group, stirred controversy and has gone viral.

Photographs show three priests carrying a basket of books and other items, including an African-styled face mask through a church to an outside fire pit.

Priests are seen saying prayers over the fire pit where other items, including a book from the Twilight vampire-themed fantasy romance series, a ‘Hello Kitty’ umbrella and a Hindu religious figurine, are also burning.

One of our board members was lured into satanism by a Hello Kitty umbrella. True story.

Father Jan Kucharski, the priest in the Gdansk parish where the book burning took place, told the news website on Monday that they had burned items “linked to the occult and magic.”

“Aside from the books, there were talismans and amulets. Parishioners brought them to put things in order” as part of spring cleaning, added the priest, who is also listed as an exorcist on the Gdansk diocese official website.

The burning took place in front of his church after Sunday mass.

Kucharczyk dismissed comparisons to the cultural censorship of totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany.

“We know what’s harmful to our faithful so that’s why we held an event like this. I’d even call it evangelical,” he told

“I’d like to believe this is a joke… Seriously? Are people burning fantasy literature in the 21st century in some kind of sick ritual?!” one Facebook user said in a comment underneath the post.

“It’s hard for me to believe that we’re so backward!” the user added.

Other Facebook users, however, backed the book burning.

“Get rid of everything that does not please God and see how your life will change,” one person posted.

Launched in 1997, the Harry Potter series of books spins an epic tale of good and evil focused on the adventures of the eponymous bespectacled young wizard as he struggles against the dark wizard Lord Voldemort.

It has sometimes drawn criticism from religious and conservative circles for what they say is its focus on witchcraft.

This latest incident comes as Poland’s influential Roman Catholic church struggles to deal with the fallout of revelations about paedophilia among priests that are unprecedented in this overwhelmingly Catholic country.

Last month, the Polish episcopate admitted for the first time that nearly 400 of its clergy had sexually abused children and minors over the past three decades.

That reflected findings published in February by a charity focused on sex abuse in the church.

A survey published in the liberal daily Gazeta Wyborcza on Monday suggested that 64 percent of Poles want a secular state, with 29 percent opposed and seven percent without an opinion.

The poll was carried out March 5-11 by Kantor Millward Brown on a random representative sample of 1,500 adult Poles.

Chilean Priest Under House Arrest, Investigation for Sex Abuse

April 2, 2019

A Chilean Justice ordered an investigation Friday into alleged sexual abuse crimes by priest Tito Rivera in the Cathedral of Santiago in 2015.

Over the next five months, the investigation is due to be carried out during which time the accused will be subject to nighttime house arrest from 10pm to 6am and will be prohibited from leaving the country, as determined by the 13th Santiago Warden’s Court.

The resolution comes after the regional prosecutor of O’Higgins, Emiliano Arias, in charge of the investigations for sexual crimes committed within the Chilean Catholic Church, asked the Justice to formally impute Rivera.

The priest will be investigated for allegedly abusing a man, Daniel Rojas, in 2015, in a bedroom of the cathedral of Santiago, the heart of Chile’s Catholic community. Rivera’s priesthood has been suspended for 14 years due to several complaints in the canonical justice regarding alleged sexual abuse acts committed against minors.

Daniel Rojas, 43, denounced that in 2015 he went to the Cathedral and met with Rivera to request monetary aid for his daughter who suffered a severe urinary tract infection.

According to Rojas, the priest offered him a glass of water that allegedly contained a drug and then sexually abused him in one of the dormitories in the religious compound. Rojas also said that after confessing to Archbishop Ezatti, the Archbishop gave him 30,000 pesos (approximately US$45) and advised him to pray for his rapist.

Pope Francis announced Friday that all Vatican staff and diplomats from the Holy See abroad could receive jail sentences and fines if they are found to be covering up sexual abuse of minors. So far, 219 are investigated by the National Prosecutor’s Office of Chile. A total of 158 cases of sexual abuse against 241 people, 123 of which were infants at the time of the events..

Düsseldorf cardinal suspended after second sexual harassment allegation

March 26, 2019

Düsseldorf cardinal suspended after sexual harassment allegations

A prominent cardinal in Düsseldorf has reportedly been placed on leave due to an allegation that he sexually assaulted an adult clergyman in 2012.
The same cardinal was reportedly reinstated by the church after undergoing ‘therapy’ following similar allegations in the 1990s.

Cardinal Ulrich Hennes, who serves as the city dean for Düsseldorf, has been suspended from his role due to sexual assault allegations.

Archbishop of Cologne Rainer Maria Woelki placed the cardinal on compulsory leave due to the pending allegations, with RP Online reporting that the man underwent a church-administered ‘therapy’ program in relation to the sexual molestation of a teenager in the 1990s.

The report casts doubt on the effectiveness of the church’s ability to self regulate and prosecute allegations against clergymen, particularly as a report completed at the end of the therapy process found that the Cardinal could return to work “without conditions”.

A spokesman for the church said that Hennes was “committed to therapy, which was then completed” in the 1990s, with the church deciding to reinstate him to his position.

Hennes denied the allegations to RP Online, while also confirming that he was not a flight risk. “I am innocent”, he said. “I have no reason to flee (Düsseldorf)”.

Archbishop Woelki said that Hennes was entitled to the presumption of innocence, but sought to reaffirm the church’s commitment to tackle sexual misconduct in its ranks.

“We do not tolerate any form of sexual assault and consistently follow the relevant instructions and suspected cases,” says Cardinal Woelki.

As reported by The Local in March, the Catholic Church in Germany promised to urgently confront sexual abuse scandals amid allegations that victims had been “stonewalled”.

The guidelines of the German Bishops Conference require that members of the clergy be suspended for the duration of the process after allegations have been made.

Hennes was made city dean of Düsseldorf in 2016, a role which requires him to act as a representative of the bishop in the city.

Irish bishop raped his own niece when she was just five and faced another two accusations of child sexual abuse before his death

March 24, 2019

Bishop Eamonn Casey, the Irish Bishop visiting Sydney in August 1981
  • One of the women was paid out under the Residential Institutions Redress Board
  • Additionally, a second settlement was confirmed by the Limerick Diocese 
  • His niece, Patricia Donovan, now 56, said: ‘It was rape, everything you imagine

Deceased Bishop Eamonn Casey faced at least three allegations of child sexual abuse before he died – with two high court cases being settled.

One of the women who have accused him was his niece, while another received a settlement under the controversial Residential Institutions Redress Board.

Documents obtained by the Irish Mail on Sunday confirmed the Redress settlement, and a second settlement was confirmed by the Limerick Diocese when the MoS directly asked them.

Patricia Donovan, the niece of the late Bishop Eamonn Casey has claimed she was raped and sexually abused by him from the age of five for more than a decade.

Speaking for the first time, his niece Patricia Donovan, now 56, said: ‘It was rape, everything you imagine. It was the worst kind of abuse, it was horrific. 

‘I stopped being able long ago to find any words in the English language to describe what happened to me. It was one horrific thing after another.’

The Irish Mail on Sunday can also reveal that two other complaints of child sexual abuse related to incidents in the 1950s and 1960s.

Ms Donovan, who lives in England, brought her allegations to police in the UK in November 2005, and later to gardai.

Limerick detectives travelled to the UK to take a statement from her in January 2006, but by August of the same year, the Director of Public Prosecutions directed that no charges be brought on 13 sample allegations.

But in the course of seeking documentation relating to her case, Ms Donovan received case notes that confirm that Bishop Casey made a Redress board settlement with a woman in 2005.

Catholic Priest Accused Of Groping Texas Woman During Last Rites

March 22, 2019

AUSTIN, Texas (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — A Roman Catholic priest in Austin has been arrested on a misdemeanor assault charge after he was accused of groping a woman in home hospice care while giving her last rites.

Austin Police arrested Rev. Gerold Langsch and charged him with assault by contact stemming from the October 5, 2018 encounter.

The 75-year-old priest is free on $15,000 bond. If convicted, he could be sentenced to a year in jail and fined up to $4,000.

Police contend in the arrest affidavit that the woman was in hospice care for complications from diabetes when Lansch went to her home to administer the sacrament of anointing the sick, a sacrament of absolution.

The woman, who is still alive, reported that Langsch first anointed her chest with holy water, then began to apply lotion, massaging a breast, pinching a nipple and asking “Does that feel good?” He then tried to slip his hand inside her diaper but was unable to.

The woman later told police the priest’s actions left her in shock, uncomfortable, confused and feeling like, she told police, a “nasty, dirty piece of meat.”

In a statement Wednesday, the Catholic Diocese of Austin said Langsch had been pastor of St. Paul Catholic Church in Austin until last month, when the diocese “received an unrelated report that he had failed to maintain proper boundaries with an adult.”

The statement said that report did not involve any physical contact. Nevertheless, the diocese removed Langsch from his post and deemed him no longer able to serve as a priest in the diocese.

The diocese said it will cooperate fully with police and asks anyone with information about the priest’s actions to notify police.

New Mexico priest is charged with raping an 8-year-old girl until she vomited and then making her clean it up

March 18, 2019

Sabine Griego, 81, was arrested on Tuesday by authorities in New Mexico
  • Sabine Griego, 81, faces rape charges from assaults which allegedly took place nearly 30 years ago 
  • Authorities allege Griego assaulted an 8-year-old girl who was an altar server at a New Mexico Catholic school 
  • Police say Griego raped the girl on a number of occasions, which included vicious beatings that resulted in a broken nose
  • Griego has been implicated in at least eight cases that were closed by authorities
  • Police say they have evidence the Archdiocese of Santa Fe knew about the alleged rapes for at least 15 years 
  • Griego is believed to have raped more than 30 children over the course of decades

A former priest raped an 8-year-old girl nearly 30 years ago to the point where she vomited – only to then force her to clean up the mess, it has been alleged.

Sabine Griego, 81, was arrested on Tuesday at his New Mexico home for the alleged assault and other rapes involving the girl.

Griego, a resident of Las Vegas, New Mexico, has been charged with one count of sexual penetration of a minor and coercion resulting in great bodily harm and mental anguish.

The charges are just the latest allegations against Griego, who has also been accused of sexually assaulting more than 30 children over decades while in the Archdiocese of Santa Fe, according to the Santa Fe New Mexican.

Between 1993 and 1995, Griego was implicated in eight closed cases. He was put on leave from the church in 1993, but it wasn’t until 2005 that he was formally dismissed from clerical duties.

Griego is currently being held without bond at the San Miguel County Detention Center in Las Vegas.

Authorities allege that the archdiocese knew of the latest rape allegations made by the girl, ‘Jane Doe A’, for at least 15 years.

The arrest want cites a 2004 letter, which was marked ‘confidential,’ and signed by then-Archbishop Michael J. Sheehan.

The letter provides ‘direct evidence’ that the rape occurred and that the archdiocese discovered it after conducting its own investigation.

The first alleged rape took place after Griego took the girl to the church rectory. He told her that they would ‘play a special game,’ authorities allege.

It was during the assault that the girl vomited and was then forced to clean up the mess, authorities allege.

The girl told investigators that Griego raped her numerous times and that on a few occasions he made her drink wine.

Griego is also alleged to have used a wooden spoon to assault and beat her.

Griego is alleged to have targeted the girl when she was just in second grade at Queen of Heaven Catholic School.

She told investigators that Griego would spend time with her after school and over lunch.

He also offered her ‘weird black Halloween candy,’ police allege.

On one occasion, Griego began to allegedly rape her, knocking her to the floor and covering her mouth.

Griego has been implicated in at least eight cases that have been closed. He is believed to have raped dozens of children

She then bit his hand, prompting Griego to slap her. He then continued with the rape.

A year later, during another rape, Griego got angry with the girl and slammed her face into a table, resulting in a broken nose, police allege.

Former Catholic priest from York County arrested, accused of molesting two altar boys

March 16, 2019

John G. Allen is charged with four counts of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors.

John G. Allen, from the Pennsylvania abusive pedophile priests list

A defrocked York County priest was arrested Thursday morning on charges that he molested two altar boys between 1997 and 2002.

John G. Allen, who served in several parishes throughout Lebanon, Gettysburg, Selinsgrove, New Cumberland, Steelton, Lancaster and Harrisburg, is facing four counts of indecent assault and two counts of corruption of minors, according to the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office. 

Allen, a 75-year-old York County resident, abused the victims while they served as altar boys at St. Margaret Mary’s Alacoque Church in Harrisburg, the criminal complaint said.

One victim said he was fondled from ages 10 to 13. The other victim said he was assaulted from ages 12 to 14, according to the district attorney’s office.

Allen in August was among 301 abusive priests named in a Pennsylvania grand jury report and 71 named by the Diocese of Harrisburg. 

A former altar boy filed a lawsuit in August against the Diocese of Harrisburg, claiming former Bishop William Keeler failed to protect him from an abusive priest.

Diocese concerns about priest date back to 1970

The Harrisburg diocese was concerned about Father John Allen’s sexual behavior in January 1970, but did not intervene for two decades.

In those 20 years, Allen sexually abused multiple young boys, according to the grand jury report, and, in 1992, he was arrested in Lancaster for soliciting an undercover officer for sex.

The diocese sent him for a mental health evaluation in 1991. Two years later, Bishop Nicholas Dattilo was told Allen went to a Sex and Love Addicts Anonymous meeting, where the priest “gave the impression to members that he was a pedophile and had an obsession with young boys,” according to diocese records shared in the grand jury report.

Dattilo didn’t remove him from practice. Instead, Allen took a leave of absence from St. Joseph in Lancaster in November 1992 and was reinstated eight months later at St. Theresa in New Cumberland, where he served from 1993 to 1995. 

After a man came forward in April 2002 and reported he was abused by Allen for four years, from age 14 to 18, the Harrisburg diocese removed him as a priest. 

Two months later, the diocese received a call to verify his employment for a new job. The caller didn’t want any additional information or a reference. 

And Father M. McFadden said, “I did not volunteer any additional information,” according to the Pennsylvania grand jury report.

Allen was officially dismissed from the Catholic church by Pope Benedict XVI on Feb. 17, 2006. 

Ex-N.J. priest accused of sex abuse found shot to death in Nevada home

March 13, 2019

A former New Jersey priest who had been “credibly accused” of sexually abusing minors was found dead in his Nevada home, and police are treating it as a homicide.

The body of John Capparelli was found Saturday morning by police conducting a welfare check at his home in Henderson, about 15 miles south of Las Vegas.

The Clark County Coroner’s Office said Capparelli, 70, died from a single gunshot wound to the neck. His body was found in the kitchen, a spokesperson said.

Police said they did not have a suspect at this time.

Capparelli’s name appeared on a list in February with 187 other clergy the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Newark said had been “credibly accused” of abusing minors.

He was never convicted of a crime, but he was laicized and permanently removed from ministry, according to the archdiocese.

He denied the allegations to in an interview in 2011, saying: “Everything is not true.”

Capparelli moved to Nevada in 2016, the outlet reports.

The archdiocese said he worked at a number of churches and schools in New Jersey, including Our Lady of Fatima Church in North Bergen; Oratory Prep School in Summit; Holy Trinity in Westfield; and The Church of Saint Theresa in Kenilworth. He was also a temporary chaplain at Valley Hospital in Ridgewood.

Cardinal George Pell Sentenced To 6 Years In Prison For Sexual Abuse

March 13, 2019

Australian Cardinal George Pell was sentenced to six years in prison on Wednesday for molesting two choir boys in Melbourne in 1996.

Pell, who served as the Vatican treasurer and was once part of Pope Francis’ inner circle, is the highest-ranking member of the Roman Catholic Church to be convicted of child sexual assault.

He was convicted of five counts at a hearing in December, but the media were prohibited from reporting about the details of the case due to a broad gag order meant to protect the integrity of the trial. He faced a total of 10 years in prison for each of those charges.

Pell, 77, will be eligible for parole in three years and six months and, if released, will be required to register as a sex offender for life. Judge Peter Kidd cited the cardinal’s advanced age and various health issues in considering his sentence.

“Each year you spend in custody will represent a substantial portion of your remaining life expectancy,” Kidd said Wednesday.

The sentenced stems from two incidents in the 1990s when Pell was the newly appointed Archbishop of Melbourne. He was accused of sexually assaulting two 13-year-old altar boys shortly after Sunday Mass, including an instance when Pell forced one of the boys to perform oral sex on him. During a separate incident, Pell was accused of grabbing a boy’s genitals.

A unanimous jury found him guilty of five counts of sexual abuse. Pell has maintained his innocence throughout the trial, and his lawyers have said they would appeal the conviction.

During the sentencing, Kidd said that, in his view, Pell’s “conduct was permeated by staggering arrogance” and called the actions “grave” and brazen.

“The argument of your counsel that this offending was committed by you, George Pell the man, and not by you, George Pell the archbishop, must be roundly rejected,” Kidd noted. “I do so without hesitation.”

One of the men who was abused by Pell released a statement through his lawyer after the verdict was handed down, saying the judge was “meticulous” in his ruling. But, he noted, it was “hard … for the time being, to take comfort in this outcome.”

“I appreciate that the Court has acknowledged what was inflicted upon me as a child,” the unnamed victim’s said through his attorney, Vivian Waller. “However, there is no rest for me. Everything is overshadowed by the forthcoming appeal.”

He added: “Being a witness in a criminal case has not been easy. I’m doing my best to hold myself and my family together.” 

Latvian priest charged with abusing vulnerable teen

March 9, 2019

Riga (AFP) – A Latvian Catholic priest and two other people have been charged with human trafficking and sexual abuse of a male teenager with learning difficulties, local media reported Friday, citing justice authorities.

Laura Majevska, a spokeswoman for Latvia’s prosecutor general confirmed the charges against three suspects, although she refused to reveal their identities.

Citing unnamed sources, the Baltic News Service named one of the accused as Pavels Zeila (photo not available), a 73-year-old priest, who had served in a diocese in eastern Latvia.

“The abuser did horrible things to me while talking to me in a sweet voice: ‘What a cute boy!’,” the alleged victim told Latvian public broadcaster LTV in an interview aired before the indictment.

“Only later I was told he is a priest,” the vulnerable young man said, in the broadcast to a national audience.

Police arrested Zeila on suspicion of abuse in September, but he has since been released on bail.

Describing the details of the allegations at the time of the arrest, Armands Lubarts, chief of a police task force on human trafficking and pimping, told media that “one of the suspects ‘delivered’ the defenceless victim for a fee.

“The church representative, who was the end buyer, paid the fee and then committed violent sexual crimes against the victim,” Lubarts added.

Neither Zeila nor his lawyers have commented on the charges, which come as the Catholic Church has vowed to fight child abuse within its ranks.

New accusation of sex abuse rock Chile’s Catholic church

March 8, 2019

Image result for ricardo ezzati

Ricardo Ezzati covered up sex abuse by priests

SANTIAGO, Chile (AP) — Chile’s Roman Catholic church, already the target of Vatican sanctions, was being shaken Tuesday by yet another allegation of priestly abuse and high-level cover-up.

Daniel Rojas Alvarez, a 43-year-old indigent man, appeared on a state television broadcast Monday night saying that a priest at the Santiago Cathedral had drugged and raped him in 2015. He said Cardinal Ricardo Ezzati had given him money when told of the attack and told him not to report it.

“The case is terrible, unacceptable,” said Fernando Ramos, secretary-general of the Chilean bishop’s conference, at a news conference Tuesday ahead of his trip to the Vatican for a worldwide meeting of bishops on preventing sexual abuse.

The Santiago archbishopric acknowledged in a statement that it had received a complaint against the priest, Rigoberto Rivera, in the summer of 2015 and said he had been forbidden to celebrate public Mass since last year. His attorney, Sandra Pinto, denied the allegations.

A series of earlier cases investigated by the Vatican led Pope Francis last year to request all 31 active bishops to offer their resignations, complaining of “a culture of abuse and cover-up.”

Ezzati, who offered his resignation in 2017 on turning 75, has denied committing any cover-ups of sexual abuse.

Government prosecutors are also investigating Ezzati on allegations he covered up abuse committed by his top deputy, and they have raided the Santiago ecclesiastical court and other church buildings looking for evidence. Another former bishop, Juan Barros, was also questioned last year by prosecutors.

A weeping Rojas Alvarez, who has been living in the streets, told Channel 7 that he had gone to the cathedral seeking help to buy medicine for his ailing daughter.

He alleged that Rivera had given him water that left him feeling weak, then kissed him and raped him.

“I began to cry, to wake up. A terrible situation of total vulnerability,” he said.

He said he reported the attack to Ezzati, and said the cardinal asked him to pray for the priest, gave him the equivalent of $45 and asked him not to tell anybody what had happened.

In addition to a criminal complaint, Rojas has filed a suit seeking the equivalent of about $530,000 from Rivera and the archbishopric. The bishop’s office is also facing demands for similar sums from three victims of Fernando Karadima, the country’s most notorious pedophile priest.

The archbishopric said it had first received another complaint about Rivera in 2011, but didn’t investigate because “it was not possible to contact the complainant.”

It said Rivera received canonical punishment in September 2018, but said it would start “an exhaustive review to clarify” all of the cases. He is allowed to celebrate Mass only in private, accompanied by a person over 50, and to have no meetings with youth.

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