Archive for February, 2019
February 27, 2019
FRESNO, CA (KMJ)- A Fresno Anglican Church priest is arrested for sexual misconduct crimes against his followers.
Fresno police are aware of 22 potential victims — mostly undocumented Hispanic male adults and one female, but they believe Jesus Antonio Serna could have hundreds more.
Culminating a thirteen-month investigation, Serna was arrested at his office in Fresno at 7:30am, Sunday, Feb. 24, 2019.
Serna told police he would tell his victims they were under the curse of witchcraft, and needed to be rid of it with a ritual he learned of in India.
Police Chief Jerry Dyer said Serna would then undress the victims, have them lie down on a recliner or a table and rub oil on the victim’s body telling them it was sacred oil and then masturbate the victims.
Serna led them to believe the ritual was spiritually or physically necessary for them to be healed.
All of the victims were members of Our Lady of Guadalupe Church at 4147 E. Dakota, or at his office at 1300 East Shaw, which police say was more isolated.
The Bishop of the Anglican Church in Fresno learned of the crimes in October of 2017, when eighteen parishioners said they’d been victimized by Serna but were afraid to report the crimes to law enforcement..
Bishop Eric Menees confronted Serna on November 24th, and went to the Fresno Police in January of 2018, with the three victims.
Since that time, Chief Dyer’s been made award of 22 people assaulted but due to the reluctance of the victims to make statements, police could not take action.
After Bishop Menees kicked Serna out of the church, the disgraced priest later opened up his own Padre Dia Ministry at Holy Spirit Church, located at 4277 N. West Boulevard (not on Friant).
Chief Dyer during the press conference on Monday that the abuse may have been going on among his followers for years prior to 2014, during the time he was a priest in Yakima, Washington from 1997 to 2006.
Chief Dyer believes there are victims there, as well.
February 26, 2019
Cardinal George Pell: Vatican treasurer and highest ranking Catholic in Australia found guilty of five counts of child sexual assault
February 26, 2019
George Pell, convicted pedophile
We here at FuckThePope.com have been reading the media accounts of Pell’s conviction and are gobsmacked that so many express shock at the verdict. A priest raping alter boys is hardly news. We have to ask “Why the hell is anyone shocked?” Do people think that sex abuse is the province of only the lower echelons of the priesthood?
Cardinal George Pell, once the third most powerful man in the Vatican and Australia’s most senior Catholic, has been found guilty of child sexual abuse after a trial in Melbourne.
A jury delivered the unanimous verdict on 11 December in Melbourne’s county court, but the result was subject to a suppression order and could not be reported until now.
A previous trial on the same five charges, which began in August, resulted in a hung jury, leading to a retrial.
Pell, who is on leave from his role in Rome as Vatican treasurer, was found guilty of sexually penetrating a child under the age of 16 as well as four charges of an indecent act with a child under the age of 16. The offences occurred in December 1996 and early 1997 at St Patrick’s Cathedral, months after Pell was inaugurated as archbishop of Melbourne.
He is due to be sentenced on Wednesday, having been out on bail since the verdict and recovering from knee surgery.
Pope Francis, who has previously praised Pell for his honesty and response to child sexual abuse, has yet to publicly react, but just two days after the unreported verdict in December the Vatican announced that Pell and two other cardinals had been removed from the pontiff’s council of advisers.
Pell’s conviction and likely imprisonment will cause shockwaves through a global Catholic congregation and is a blow to Francis’s efforts to get a grip on sexual abuse.
It comes just days after an unprecedented summit of cardinals and senior bishops in the presence of the pope at the Vatican, intended to signal a turning point on the issue that has gravely damaged the church and imperilled Francis’s papacy.
Before returning to Australia to face the charges, Pell was for three years prefect of the secretariat for the economy of the Holy See, making him one of the most senior Catholics in the world. He was one of Francis’s most trusted advisers, and was handpicked to oversee the Vatican’s complex finances and root out corruption.
On the day of the dramatic verdict, after a four-and-a-half-week trial, Pell stood in the dock showing no reaction and staring straight ahead. The room was silent as the foreman told the court that the jury had found the cardinal guilty on all charges. Pell’s defence barrister, Robert Richter QC, when asked by journalists if he would appeal, responded: “Absolutely.”
Pell will now almost certainly face jail time.
The case against Pell centred around events of more than 22 years ago.
The jury found that in the second half of December 1996, while he was archbishop of Melbourne, Pell walked in on two 13-year-old choirboys after a Sunday solemn mass at St Patrick’s Cathedral and sexually assaulted them.
The complainant, who is now aged 35 and cannot be named, said he and the other choirboy had separated from the choir procession as it exited the church building. The prosecution’s case hinged on his evidence, as the other victim died in 2014 after a heroin overdose. Neither victim told anyone about the offending at the time.
After leaving the procession, the complainant said, he and the other boy sneaked back into the church corridors and entered the priest’s sacristy, a place they knew they should not be. There they found some sacramental wine and began to drink. The complainant alleged that Pell had walked in on them and told them something to the effect that they were in trouble.
Pell manoeuvred his robes to expose his penis. He stepped forward, grabbed the other boy by the back of his head, and forced the boy’s head on to his penis, the complainant told the court.
Pell then did the same thing to the complainant, orally raping him. Once he had finished, he ordered the complainant to remove his pants, before fondling the complainant’s penis and masturbating himself. The complainant said the attack lasted only a few minutes, and the boys left the room afterwards, hung up their choir robes and went home.
Being in the choir was a condition of the complainant’s scholarship to attend St Kevin’s College, an elite independent school in the affluent inner-Melbourne suburb of Toorak, the court heard.
“I knew a scholarship could be given or taken away even at that age,” the complainant told the court. “And I didn’t want to lose that. It meant so much to me. And what would I do if I said such a thing about an archbishop? It’s something I carried with me the whole of my life.”
The complainant alleged that either later that year in 1996, or in early 1997, Pell attacked him again. He said he was walking down a hallway to the choristers’ change room, again after singing at Sunday solemn mass at the cathedral, when Pell allegedly pushed him against the wall and squeezed his genitals hard through his choir robes, before walking off.
The complainant told the court that after the attacks he could not fathom what had happened to him and that he dealt with it by pushing it to the “darkest corners and recesses” of his mind.
In his police statement, the complainant said he remembered Pell “being a big force in the place”.
“He emanated an air of being a powerful person,” he said. “I’ve been struggling with this a long time … and my ability to be here. [Because] I think Pell has terrified me my whole life … he was [later] in the Vatican. He was an extremely, presidentially powerful guy who had a lot of connections.”
In his closing address, the crown prosecutor Mark Gibson told the jury their verdict would come down to whether they believed the complainant beyond reasonable doubt. They should find the complainant an honest witness, Gibson said.
Pell pleaded not guilty from the beginning. He was interviewed by a Victorian detective, Christopher Reed, in Rome in October 2016, and the video of that interview was played to the court. In that interview Pell described the allegations as “a load of garbage and falsehood”.
When Reed said the attacks were alleged to have occurred after Sunday mass, Pell responded: “That’s good for me as it makes it even more fantastically impossible.”
Pell’s defence team told the jury there were so many improbabilities in the prosecution’s case that they should conclude the abuse could not have happened. Richter said it was unlikely that two boys could leave the choir procession after mass unnoticed or that the sacristy would be unattended or left unlocked, or that Pell would be able to manoeuvre his robes to show his penis in the way described by the complainant. The robes were brought into the court for jurors to view.
Richter used a PowerPoint presentation in the retrial during his closing address to the jurors, something he did not do in the first. One of the slides read: “Only a madman would attempt to rape two boys in the priests’ sacristy immediately after Sunday solemn mass.”
In his directions to the jury, the judge, Peter Kidd, told them that the trial was not an opportunity to make Pell a scapegoat for the failures of the Catholic church.
The jury took less than four days to reach their unanimous verdict.
Until now the trials have been subject to a suppression order and could not be reported. The reason for the strict order was that Pell faced a second trial in relation to separate alleged historical offences. The first trial was suppressed temporarily so information from it would be less likely to influence the jury in the second. Suppression orders are not unusual in such cases.
But Kidd has now ordered that reporting restrictions be lifted after the Department of Public Prosecutions dropped the second set of charges. Kidd had ruled that key evidence was inadmissible and could not be used, significantly weakening the prosecution’s case.
February 25, 2019
Reinhard Marx, part of the culture of clergy sex abuse cover-up
The Roman Catholic Church took pains to deliberately hide the extent of its global sex abuse crisis, going as far as destroying documents and failing to compile records that could be used to prosecute perpetrators, a top cardinal admitted this week.
At an unprecedented Vatican summit designed to tackle the church’s lingering child sex abuse scandal, German Cardinal Reinhard Marx shed light on the institution’s many failures to tamp down on the problem, telling the gathering of more than 190 bishops from around the globe that “the rights of victims were effectively trampled underfoot.” The National Catholic Reporter has more:
”Files that could have documented the terrible deeds and named those responsible were destroyed, or not even created,” said Marx, beginning a list of a number of practices that survivors have documented for years but church officials have long kept under secret.
”Instead of the perpetrators, the victims were regulated and silence imposed on them,” the cardinal continued. “The stipulated procedures and processes for the prosecution of offenses were deliberately not complied with, but instead canceled or overridden.”
The Catholic Church is in the midst of a reckoning over its wide-scale child abuse allegations that span the globe and date back decades. Thousands of child victims have come forward describing their abuse, while hundreds of priests have been reprimanded by the church as a direct result. But only recently has the shoe begun to drop for the highest-ranking officials, including those who are either accused themselves of sexually assaulting young children, or allowed the abuse to continue under their watch.
Just last week the Vatican defrocked Theodore McCarrick, an ex-cardinal and the former archbishop of Washington, who was accused of abusing at least three minors and harassing adult seminarians. It’s likely the first time that a cardinal has been expelled from the priesthood specifically because of sexual abuse, but comes too late for McCarrick’s victims to pursue criminal charges against their alleged abuser.
Pope Francis, who has had a mixed record on addressing the church’s pedophilia problem, convened the four-day summit in a landmark effort to curb the widespread and systemic failures that turned the issue into a global crisis. In his opening remarks on Thursday, Francis condemned the “scourge” of sexual abuse and said it was up to church leaders to “confront this evil afflicting the Church and humanity.”
But for years, it’s been others who’ve claimed the spotlight calling for accountability and reform — a trend that continued at the pope’s conference this weekend.
A Catholic nun took bishops to task: “This storm will not pass by. Our credibility is at stake.”
Activists and victims of clergy abuse are calling on the church to adopt a “zero tolerance” policy that would apply universal standards for abusive priests around the globe. So far, however, accountability measures have varied from region to region — if they happen at all. Even as more and more allegations of abuse come to light, factions within the church still deny its existence. Which is why one major theme to emerge out of this week’s summit focuses on transparency as a (small) first step to confront the crisis.
It’s a point driven home by Sister Veronica Openibo, a Nigerian-born nun and journalist, who in a standout moment in the conference, chastised church leaders to their face for their culture of silence and hypocrisy. As CNN religion reporter Daniel Burke noted of Openibo’s speech, “a nun just read the riot act to Catholic bishops over clergy sex abuse.”
February 25, 2019
Go right ahead and fuck all the kids you want. I’ve got your back.
Francis could have, with the stroke of a pen, made the sexual assault of children by clergy against church law which would demand the expulsion of violators from the priesthood. But he chose instead to offer another round of platitudes and vague promises leaving victims of sex abuse feeling victimized once again.
(VATICAN CITY) — Pope Francis closed out his extraordinary summit on preventing clergy sex abuse by vowing Sunday to confront abusers with “the wrath of God” felt by the faithful, end the cover-ups by their superiors and prioritize the victims of this “brazen, aggressive and destructive evil.”
But his failure to offer a concrete action plan to hold bishops accountable when they failed to protect their flocks from predators disappointed survivors, who had expected more from the first-ever global Catholic summit of its kind.
Francis delivered his remarks at the end of Mass before 190 Catholic bishops and religious superiors who were summoned to Rome after more abuse scandals sparked a credibility crisis in the Catholic hierarchy and in Francis’ own leadership.
“Brothers and sisters, today we find ourselves before a manifestation of brazen, aggressive and destructive evil,” the pope said.
February 23, 2019
David N. Moss, hypocrite of the month
A Mormon bishop from Utah has been arrested and removed from his Church position following an arrest on human trafficking charges.
David N. Moss, a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints bishop and former law enforcement officer, was recently arrested for attempting to “manage” sex workers by helping them avoid police. Moss also said he had “run” girls in the past.
Moss ultimately met with the two undercover officers, and during that meeting he showed them cash and said he was “not opposed to paying” for services, detectives allege. He also detailed ways to avoid police and at that point forcibly grabbed one woman’s hand and placed it on his genitals.
The document states Moss then unzipped his pants and exposed himself to the two undercover detectives.
Sex work itself isn’t the problem; the problem is that Moss was trying to put himself in a position to control those women (as he claimed to have done in the past). The religious hypocrisy is also obvious. Moss was eventually arrested and charged with exploiting a prostitute, patronizing a prostitute, sexual battery, and two counts of lewdness.
Moss was released that day and arrested February 19 at his home in Lehi. Moss admitted to the details in the chats and the discussions but denied having “managed” other women previously, booking records state.
Detectives wrote that Moss’ current position as a religious leader and his prior work as a vice squad cop in St. George gave them reason to worry there may be more victims out there.
They said both positions placed him in contact with potentially vulnerable people.
Moss was constantly surrounded by people who looked to him with respect and/or fear. He used that to his advantage to the point where other victims may still be out there. The one bright spot is that the Mormon Church acted quickly to remove him from his position, saying in a statement:
The behavior alleged in this incident is completely unacceptable and unbecoming of any member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and especially of someone serving in a position of local leadership. Upon learning of this situation, local leaders took immediate steps to relieve him of his role and to identify his replacement.
If only they acted that quickly when it comes to bishops who were accused of sexual assault yet weren’t shamed in the press.
February 22, 2019
New Delhi, India (CNN)As more than 200 leaders from the Roman Catholic Church meet in Rome for an unprecedented summit to address clergy sexual abuse, a crisis is being renewed in India.
In the southern Indian state of Kerala, accusations of sexual abuse involving the Catholic Church have demonstrated the challenges of holding some members of the clergy to account, and the clerical pressures victims face to remain silent.
Last Saturday, a senior Catholic priest was sentenced to 20 years in prison by an Indian court for raping a 16-year-old girl in Kerala. The incident came to light only after the victim gave birth in February, 2017.
Robin Vadakkumchery, 51, was found guilty of raping the underage girl. He was handed down three concurrent sentences of 20 years each for rape and sexual abuse.
The case has been mired in controversy. The girl’s father attempted to direct the focus away from the priest — by initially telling police that he was the father of his daughter’s baby.
According to Beena Kaliyath, state prosecutor for the case, the girl’s father told police he was the one who had raped her, in order to take pressure off the Church. DNA testing subsequently proved that Vadakkumchery, the priest, was the father.
Police were alerted to the case by state child protection authorities two weeks after the girl delivered a baby, according to the court judgment from the sentencing.
During the trial, the girl, her father and her mother also claimed that the baby was the result of a consensual relationship between the victim and the priest and the girl was an adult at the time. The court rejected the documents which were furnished to corroborate the claim — ruling that they had been falsified.
Under Indian law, any sexual encounter with a minor under 18 automatically becomes ground for a rape charge.
John Dayal, the former president of the All India Catholic Union told CNN that because all religious authorities, including the church, are held in such high regard, it “makes it harder for the victims to expose the culprit.”
Dayal, who is also a human rights and political activist said that it’s often difficult for women to go public in such cases because “people will not believe her because they hold priests in such high esteem.”
Christianity is a minority religion in India, practiced by around 2.3% of the population, according to the most recent census data taken in 2011, but Kerala is home to a sizable Christian community that dates back hundreds of years.
That community has recently been rocked by sexual abuse scandals.
In another case, a group of women who spoke out about the alleged sexual abuse of a fellow nun have claimed that they are under pressure to withdraw their support for her.
In September, Catholic Bishop Franco Mulakkal was arrested on suspicion of raping a nun 13 times between 2014 and 2016.
Mulakkal, who is now based in the northern state of Punjab, has denied all allegations made against him and is currently out on bail. The investigation is still ongoing and the police have not filed official charges against him.
The case has drawn widespread attention in India — where like the rest of the world — it remains rare for members of the church to accuse senior clergy of wrongdoing publicly.
Controversy has surrounded the case — the nuns who lent their support to the sexual abuse allegations claimed last month the church is attempting to transfer them to other parts of the country, in an apparent attempt to silence them.
Earlier this month, Pope Francis for the first time acknowledged the sexual abuse of nuns by priests and bishops as a “problem” in the Catholic Church, saying that “we’ve been working on this for some time.”
“There have been priests and also bishops who have done that,” the Pope said of sexually abusing nuns. “And I believe that it may still be being done. It’s not a thing that from the moment in which you realize it, it’s over. The thing goes forward like this. We’ve been working on this for a long time.”
Pope Francis has said this week’s four-day summit, which began Thursday, will be a chance to hear abuse survivors speak about their experiences, to teach bishops about the church’s procedures to deal with abusive clergy and to seek forgiveness.
Indian Cardinal Oswald Gracias and an Indian bishop will join clergy from across the world at the Rome summit.
But analysts question why it has taken this long to hold such a summit on sexual abuse in the church and questioned whether anything concrete can be achieved.
“My hope will be that people see this as a turning point,” Cardinal Blase Cupich of Chicago, a member of the organizing committee, said Monday at a news conference.
“This is not the endgame. No one can say there will be no more abuse in the church or the world, but people will be held accountable.”
February 22, 2019
VATICAN CITY—In a gesture of goodwill intended to show the Papacy’s support for victims, Pope Francis announced Thursday that children who have been sexually abused by Catholic clergy would receive 10 percent off at the Vatican City gift shop.
“While we will never be able to completely undo the damage that was done, it is my hope that those who were sexually abused can ease some of their pain by enjoying a discount on hats, T-shirts, and other merch at our lovely gift shop,” said the Pontiff, who explained that the reduced prices would be offered to anyone who could provide proof of molestation and came forward prior to his rise to the Papacy in 2013.
“These were heinous crimes, and Christ calls on us to be generous towards those who have suffered. So please, browse the wide selection of devotional statuettes and decorative crucifixes available in our store, or go online and enter the code ‘MOLESTED’ to get the discount as well as free shipping on any orders over $100.” Pope Francis added that any clergy abuse victims who visited the Vatican in person could also enjoy a complimentary framed photo of either him or Pope Benedict.
Our thanks to theonion.com for this article.
February 22, 2019
He is also accused of having an astoundingly ugly wife.
A Pennsylvania church administrator stole $1.2 million from his religious community and used the money for family theme park vacations and other personal expenses, authorities say.
David Reiter, a 50-year-old business manager and occasional keyboardist for Westminster Presbyterian Church in Upper St. Clair, faces felony charges including theft, forgery, conspiracy and receiving stolen property, according to a criminal complaint obtained by HuffPost.
His wife, 44-year-old Connie Reiter, faces charges of conspiracy and receiving stolen property.
David Reiter, of South Park, was hired as Westminster Presbyterian Church’s financial administrator in 2001 and stayed in that role for about 17 years. He is accused of skimming money from the church’s funds between 2011 and 2018, according to the Allegheny County district attorney’s office.
During that time, Reiter was apparently an active member of the church ― playing keyboard for contemporary worship services and leading staff in worship during Christmas, Westminster’s senior pastor, Rev. Jim Gilchrist, told CBS affiliate KDKA on Tuesday.
“Everybody trusted him,” Gilchrist said.
Reiter allegedly falsified church accounts and created fake audit reports to cover his thefts. The complaint states that he charged about $220,000 in personal expenses on the church’s credit card and also made smaller unauthorized payroll transfers from church accounts to his personal accounts over the years.
The church funds were reportedly used to pay for vacations to Walt Disney World, Hershey Park and Cedar Point. Other expenses allegedly included Pittsburgh Pirates baseball tickets, music lessons for the Reiters’ children, restaurant bills, pet care, medical expenses, groceries, vehicle repairs and scrapbooking supplies.
Westminster Presbyterian Church’s board became suspicious in November when it attempted to perform a financial audit and was repeatedly told by Reiter that the auditor wasn’t available for a face-to-face interview. Reiter later gave a board member a cellphone number for the auditor but the person on the other end of the line was actually Reiter using a prepaid cellphone purchased with church funds, according to the complaint.
Reiter later confessed to Gilchrist that he had stolen money from the church, telling the pastor he did it “to make things better at home,” the complaint states.
“There was a tremendous amount of forethought and deception in this, which is all the more sad and just a sense of betrayal,” Gilchrist told KDKA.
The couple made an initial court appearance on Tuesday but didn’t enter pleas, The Associated Press reported. It’s unclear if they have retained attorneys.
Connie Reiter posted bail but her husband remains in jail, a district attorney’s spokesman told HuffPost on Thursday.
A preliminary hearing is set for Feb. 28.
February 21, 2019
Marcin Michael Strachanowski, torturer and raper of children
SÃO PAULO, Brazil — The authorities in Rio de Janeiro said Sunday that they had arrested a Polish priest and charged him with sexually abusing a 16-year-old former altar boy.
The judge who issued the arrest warrant said the priest, Father Marcin Michael Strachanowski, 44, had used his parish’s rectory as an “erotic dungeon” to carry out sex acts with boys.
The police in Rio de Janeiro State said that Father Strachanowski, who was arrested late Friday, was being held at a police station awaiting court proceedings. He is accused of handcuffing the 16-year-old to a bed “to satisfy his sexual whims,” according to state prosecutors.
It is the third case of sexual abuse involving a priest in Brazil, which has the world’s biggest Roman Catholic population, in the last two months.
In April, Msgr. Luiz Marques Barbosa, 83, and two other priests were taken into custody in northeastern Brazil and accused of abuse after a videotape surfaced of Father Barbosa having sex with a former altar boy. Also that month, in Franca, in southeastern Brazil, prosecutors charged the Rev. José Afonso with abusing altar boys ranging from 12 to 16 years old.
The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro has relieved Father Strachanowski of his parish duties because of the criminal investigation, said Adionel Carlos da Cunha, a church spokesman. Mr. da Cunha said that church officials had been investigating Father Strachanowski for at least two years for suspected abuses of the teenager.
February 20, 2019
For decades Francis has been part of the problem.
LUJAN DE CUYO, Argentina -When investigators swept in and raided the religious Antonio Provolo Institute for the Deaf, they uncovered one of the worst cases yet among the global abuse scandals plaguing the Catholic Church: a place of silent torment where prosecutors say pedophiles preyed on the most isolated and submissive children.
The scope of the alleged abuse was vast. Charges are pending against 13 suspects; a 14th person pleaded guilty to sexual abuse, including rape, and was sentenced to 10 years in prison. The case of the accused ringleader – an octogenarian Italian priest named Nicola Corradi – is set to go before a judge next month.
Corradi was spiritual director of the school and had a decades-long career spanning two continents. And so his arrest in late 2016 raised an immediate question: Did the Catholic Church have any sense that he could be a danger to children?
The answer, according to a Washington Post investigation that included a review of court and church documents, private letters, and dozens of interviews in Argentina and Italy, is that church officials up to and including Pope Francis were warned repeatedly and directly about a group of alleged predators that included Corradi.
Yet they took no apparent action against him.
“I want Pope Francis to come here, I want him to explain how this happened, how they knew this and did nothing,” a 24-year-old alumna of the Provolo Institute said, using sign language as her hands shook in rage. She and her 22-year-old brother, who requested anonymity to share their experiences as minors, are among at least 14 former students who say they were victims of abuse at the now-shuttered boarding school in the shadow of the Andes.
‘They were the perfect victims’
Vulnerable to the extreme, the deaf students tended to come from poor families that fervently believed in the sanctity of the church. Prosecutors say the children were fondled, raped, sometimes tied up and, in one instance, forced to wear a diaper to hide the bleeding. All the while, their limited ability to communicate complicated their ability to tell others what was happening to them. Students at the school were smacked if they used sign language. One of the few hand gestures used by the priests, victims say, was an index figure to lips – a demand for silence.
“They were the perfect victims,” said Gustavo Stroppiana, the chief prosecutor in the case.
And yet they may not have been the first. Corradi, now 83 and under house arrest, is also under investigation for sexual crimes at a sister school in Argentina where he worked from 1970 to 1994. And alumni of a related school in Italy, where Corradi served earlier, identified him as being among a number of priests who carried out systematic abuse over five decades. The schools were all founded and staffed by priests from the Company of Mary for the Education of the Deaf, a small Catholic congregation that answers to the Vatican.
The Italian victims’ efforts to sound the alarm to church authorities began in 2008 and included mailing a list of accused priests to Francis in 2014 and physically handing him the list in 2015.
It was not the church, however, but Argentine law enforcement that cut off Corradi’s access to children when it shut down the Provolo school in Lujan. Argentine prosecutors say the church has not fully cooperated with their investigation.
As Francis prepares to host a historic bishops’ summit this week to address clerical sexual abuse, the lapses in the case – affecting the pope’s home country of Argentina and the home country of the Roman Catholic Church – illustrate the still-present failures of the church to fix a system that has allowed priests to continue to abuse children long after they were first accused.
Corradi’s lawyer declined multiple interview requests for this article and did not respond to emails seeking to speak with the priest. Attempts to reach Corradi through his family were unsuccessful. The Vatican declined to comment on a detailed list of questions.
But Anne Barrett Doyle, co-director of the abuse-tracking site BishopAccountability.org, said the Provolo case “is truly emblematic.”
“The church failed them abysmally. The pope ignored them, the police responded,” she said. “It’s a clear example of the tragedy that keeps playing out.”
February 19, 2019
Not so secret anymore.
Vincent Doyle, a psychotherapist in Ireland, was 28 when he learned from his mother that the Roman Catholic priest he had always known as his godfather was in truth his biological father.
The discovery led him to create a global support group to help other children of priests, like him, suffering from the internalized shame that comes with being born from church scandal. When he pressed bishops to acknowledge these children, some church leaders told him that he was the product of the rarest of transgressions.
But one archbishop finally showed him what he was looking for: a document of Vatican guidelines for how to deal with priests who father children, proof that he was hardly alone.
“It’s the next scandal,” said Vincent Doyle, the son of a priest. “There are kids everywhere.”
“Oh my God. This is the answer,” Mr. Doyle recalled having said as he held the document. He asked if he could have a copy, but the archbishop said no — it was secret.
Now, the Vatican has confirmed, apparently for the first time, that its department overseeing the world’s priests has general guidelines for what to do when clerics break celibacy vows and father children.
“I can confirm that these guidelines exist,” the Vatican spokesman Alessandro Gisotti wrote in response to a query from The New York Times. “It is an internal document.”
The issue is becoming harder to ignore.
“It’s the next scandal,” Mr. Doyle said. “There are kids everywhere.”
As the Vatican prepares for an unprecedented meeting with the world’s bishops this week on the devastating child sexual abuse crisis, many people who feel they have been wronged by the church’s culture of secrecy and aversion to scandal will descend on Rome to press their cause.
There will be the victims of clerical child abuse. There will be nuns sexually assaulted by priests. And there will be children of priests, including Mr. Doyle, who is scheduled to meet privately in Rome with several prominent prelates.
The Vatican has confirmed that it has general guidelines for clerics who father children, pressuring them to prioritize the welfare of the child and leave the priesthood.
For the church, stories like Mr. Doyle’s draw uncomfortable attention to the violation of celibacy by priests and, for some former clerics and liberals inside the church, raise the issue of whether it is time to make the requirement optional, as it is in other Christian churches.
The children are sometimes the result of affairs involving priests and laywomen or nuns — others of abuse or rape. There are some, exceedingly rare, high-profile cases, but the overwhelming majority remain out of the public eye.
The longstanding tradition of celibacy among Roman Catholic clergy was broadly codified in the 12th century, but not necessarily adhered to, even in the highest places. Rodrigo Borgia, while a priest, had four children with his mistress before he became Pope Alexander VI, an excess that helped spur Martin Luther’s Protestant Reformation. Luther wrote mockingly that the pope had as much command over celibacy as “the natural movement of the bowels.”
There are no estimates of how many such children exist. But Mr. Doyle said that the website for his support group, Coping International, has 50,000 users in 175 countries.
He said he was first shown the Vatican guidelines in October 2017 by Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, the Vatican’s envoy to the United Nations in Geneva.
“You’re actually called ‘children of the ordained,’” Mr. Doyle recalled Archbishop Jurkovic having said. “I was shocked they had a term for it.”
Archbishop Jurkovic declined a request for an interview.
Mr. Gisotti, the Vatican spokesman, said that the internal 2017 document synthesized a decade’s worth of procedures, and that its “fundamental principle” was the “protection of the child.” He said the guideline “requests” that the father leave the priesthood to “assume his responsibilities as a parent by devoting himself exclusively to the child.”
But another Vatican official said that the “request” was a mere formality. Monsignor Andrea Ripa, the under secretary in the Congregation for the Clergy, which oversees more than 400,000 priests, said in a brief interview that “it is impossible to impose” the dismissal of the priest, and that it “can only be asked.”
He added: “If you don’t ask, you will be dismissed.”
The Irish bishops have their own guidelines, and made them public in 2017. Mr. Doyle, who once studied for the priesthood and has sought to cooperate with church leaders, played a role in developing them, said Martin Long, a spokesman for the Irish Bishops’ Conference.
The Irish church’s principles do not explicitly require clerics to leave the priesthood but state: “A priest as any new father, should face up to his responsibilities — personal, legal, moral and financial.”
Pope Francis’ remarks on the issue are limited. In his 2010 book, “On Heaven and Earth,” which he co-wrote when he was the archbishop of Buenos Aires, Francis argues that a priest who in a moment of passion violates a vow of celibacy could potentially stay in the ministry, but one who fathers a child could not.
“Natural law comes before his right as a priest,” he writes, adding that a priest’s first responsibility would be to his child, and that “he must leave his priestly ministry and take care of his child.”
Canon lawyers say that there is nothing in church law that forces priests to leave the priesthood for fathering children.
“There is zero, zero, zero,” on the matter, said Laura Sgro, a canon lawyer in Rome. “As it is not a canonical crime, there are no grounds for dismissal.”
Mr. Doyle, along with some other children of priests and some former priests themselves, say they do not believe that dismissal from the priesthood is always in the child’s best interests, and that sometimes it potentially deprives a family of a livelihood.
“I don’t believe unemployment is a response to paternity,” Mr. Doyle said.
Some children of priests, however, wish their fathers were forced out of the ministry.
Rev. Pietro Tosi was 54 when he raped Erik Zattoni’s mother, who was 14, Mr. Zattoni said. Her family tried to force the priest to recognize their son, but he refused. The family was evicted from their parish-owned home in a tiny town outside Ferrara, Italy, where they often bumped into each other.
“He never said anything,” said Mr. Zattoni, now 37.
In 2010, Mr. Zattoni sued Father Tosi, demanding to be recognized. A court-ordered DNA test demonstrated that he was in fact the priest’s son. The Vatican eventually instructed Father Tosi’s bishop to admonish him and remind him of his responsibilities as a father, but did not demand his removal from the priesthood.
After a national news program highlighted his case, hundreds of Italians filled a Ferrara piazza in 2013, to show support for Mr. Zattoni and press Francis to take up his case.
Father Tosi died in 2014, still a priest.
“The justice I got,” Mr. Zattoni said, “came through a court sentence based on DNA.”
The children of priests are increasingly turning to DNA tests to prove that their parents are either priests or nuns.
“It’s a breakthrough, and anybody can do it,” said Linda Lawless, 56, an amateur genealogist in Australia, and herself the daughter of a priest, who has helped members of Coping International.
Her mother kept her paternity secret, but Ms. Lawless remembered noticing as a child that her mother was “absolutely terrified” whenever priests visited the house.
Last year, she used a DNA test and the increasingly comprehensive databases and family trees of the genealogical website Ancestry.com to confirm that her biological father was a priest.
“That’s when the secret came out,” she said.