Archive for July, 2019
July 18, 2019
Luanda — Angolan police authorities arrested a Congolese pastor of the Church of Espirito Santo (IESA) on Wednesday in Luanda, accused of sexual abuse and having impregnated a teenage girl, according to a source at the National Police.
Speaking to ANGOP, the PN source stated that the pastor, 39, belonged to an IESA congregation, located in the Salinas neighborhood, in the municipality of Belas, in Luanda.
The man confessed to the crime to the police authorities, after being detained.
According to the source, the incident occurred in December 2018 when the teenager’s mother, a church believer, took the girl to the congregation for malaria treatment.
According to the source, the pastor asked the mother of the 16-year-old girl to put her in the church, but later the man took the teenager to his home, where he sexually assaulted her several times.
Seven months later, she added, the adolescent showed symptoms of gestation, which led the mother to make clinical tests in one of the hospitals in the capital.
After the medical examinations, it was confirmed that the teenager was pregnant.
Former El Paso Catholic priest convicted of six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child sentenced to 18 years
July 17, 2019
A former El Paso Catholic priest, who was convicted Monday of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl more than two decades ago, sat in a courtroom Tuesday listening to the impact the abuse had on three of his victims.
A jury found Miguel Luna. 69, guilty of six counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child; three counts of indecency with a child, sexual contact; and three counts of sexual assault of a child.
Luna was sentenced to 18 years in prison and 10 years probation on Tuesday.
Luna was accused of sexually assaulting a 12-year-old girl, who was an altar server, at an El Paso church from 1991 to 1998, according to court documents.
Three of Luna’s victims testified during the sentencing portion of the trial, which began Tuesday. The El Paso Times does not identify victims of sexual abuse.
Luna sat feet from the victims as they testified. He stared down at the desk in front of him and never made eye contact with the victims.
One victim said she was shocked when she found out that Luna remained a priest until 2013.
“I couldn’t believe he was up there pretending to be something he is not — preaching the word of the Lord,” the victim said. “He is a monster.”
She added that she suffers depression and pleads for forgiveness after having to abort a baby fathered by Luna.
“I am scared,” she testified. “I ask for forgiveness. It wasn’t the baby’s fault. I really don’t” forgive myself.
July 16, 2019
Attorney General Dana Nessel charged a sixth priest with criminal sexual conduct on Monday, after he was arrested by special agents from the AG’s office.
Father Joseph (Jack) Baker was arrested in Wayne County and charged with one count of first-degree criminal sexual conduct — sexual penetration with a person under 13.
The Archdiocese of Detroit provided a tip to the AG’s clergy abuse team immediately after receiving the original report on Baker. His arrest is part of Nessel’s developing investigation into abuse by clergy in the Catholic Church.
“This is just the tip of the iceberg,” Nessel said in a press release. “Our clergy abuse investigative team is working day and night to review the hundreds of thousands of pages of documents and files seized from all seven of Michigan’s dioceses last fall. At the same time, we continue to receive calls daily from victims who know we will listen to them, believe in them, and investigate their allegations. They deserve nothing less than our very best.”
Baker has worked as a pastor at St. Perpetua Parish in Waterford since 2008; he’s also been a pastor at St. Mary Parish in Wayne, an associate pastor at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills, and an associate pastor at Sacred Heart Parish in Dearborn.
July 15, 2019
Christian belief has halved in Britain in 35 years with just one in three people now identifying as Christian – while atheism and Islam continue to rise.
Figures published by the British Social Attitudes Survey reveal the widest ever margin between staunch atheists and believers who are certain that God exists.
Of almost 4,000 people polled by the National Centre for Social Research (NatCen), 38 per cent described themselves as Christian – a fall from 50 per cent in 2008 and 66 per cent in 1983.
Those identifying as Muslim increased from 1 per cent in 1983 to 3 per cent in 2008, and 6 per cent in 2018.
No doubt due to the increasing influx of immigrants from the Middle East.
The survey shows that the biggest change is in the number of people who define themselves as “confident atheists”, which rose from 10 per cent in 1998 to 18 per cent in 2008 and its record high of 26 per cent in 2018.
In contrast, researchers found that an overall 55 per cent of the population express some sort of belief in some kind of God.
Nancy Kelley, deputy chief executive at NatCen, said that the steady decline in religion and belief among the British public is “one of the most important trends in post-war history”.
“As our society has become more secular, the role of religious institutions and religious identities in determining our moral and social norms has weakened. Other world views, such as scientific rationalism and liberal individual-ism, now play a more significant part in British society.”
The report’s authors said the survey suggests Britain is becoming more secular “not because adults are losing their religion” but because older people with an attachment to Christian denominations are “gradually being replaced in the population by unaffiliated younger people”.
They added that religious decline in Britain is “generational” as people tend to be less religious than their parents.
Dave Male, the Church of England’s director of evangelism and discipleship, said: “For many people ticking a box marked ‘Church of England’ or ‘Anglican’ is now an active choice and no longer an automatic response. In spite of this, the Church of England remains at the heart of communities.”
Andrew Copson, the chief executive of the non-religion charity Humanists UK, said: “With these trends set to continue, policymakers in every field, from education to constitutional law, to health and social care, need to wake up to such dramatic social changes.”
July 11, 2019
A pastor at a Johnston County church is accused of sex crimes against a 13-year-old girl, officials say.
The Rev. Stephen Arthur Morris, 61, is charged with five counts each of statutory rape/sex offense and indecent liberties with a child, according to the Johnston County Sheriff’s Office. He was arrested Friday.
He is accused of committing crimes against the teenager from 2013 to 2014, according to Capt. Jeff Caldwell, a Sheriff’s Office spokesman.
Morris led Oliver’s Grove Baptist Church in Four Oaks and is now “off the job,” reports ABC11, The News & Observer’s media partner.
The News & Observer reached out to Morris’ church on Tuesday morning, and calls went unanswered.
Morris’ bail was set at $2.5 million, Caldwell said. He is scheduled to appear in court July 25.
July 10, 2019
Pope Francis has declared that a late US television preacher once performed a miracle, moving him one step closer to sainthood.
Another lame attempt to try to keep the illusion going.
The Vatican announced on Saturday the formal approval of the miracle, thought to relate to claims about a baby’s extraordinary recovery in an Illinois hospital.
The Diocese of Peoria believes that Archbishop Fulton J Sheen – who died in 1979 – interceded in 2010 on behalf of a baby who began breathing 61 minutes after showing no signs of life at birth.
One miracle allows a candidate for sainthood to be beatified in the Catholic faith, but a second miracle must be approved in order for sainthood to be conferred.
No date has been given for his beatification ceremony, but the Peoria Diocese said it was beginning preparations for the celebration in the central Illinois city.
Archbishop Sheen’s on-air evangelism made him a well-known figure in the US over several decades, having started on NBC radio in 1930 with a weekly programme called The Catholic Hour.
He expanded to television in 1950 with NBC’s Life is Worth Living, regularly amassing more than 30 million viewers.
The pope’s decision comes just weeks after a New York court ruling allowing the American archbishop’s niece to bury him in Peoria, where he was ordained, ending years of litigation and allowing the process for sainthood to resume.
July 9, 2019
At least one-fifth of the Netherlands’ 6,900 church buildings have been converted for secular use, a national Dutch newspaper reports ― and hundreds more are expected to follow suit in the coming years.
About 25% of Dutch churches built between 1800 and 1970 are now being used for nonreligious purposes, including as apartment complexes, offices and cultural centers, according to an investigation published by the Trouw in June. Around 20% of Dutch churches built before 1800 have also been redesigned, most often finding new life as community centers, museums or theaters.
Dutch church buildings are often located in central areas, Trouw reports. Old church buildings can be expensive for a dwindling congregation to maintain. Churches built before 1800 are often considered national monuments. All of this means that deciding how to repurpose these old buildings while maintaining their cultural legacy has become a key topic of concern for local communities.
Trouw’s investigation into converted church buildings comes during a time of increased secularization in Dutch society. In 2017, the number of religiously unaffiliated people in the Netherlands surpassed the number of religious folk for the first time in history (51% vs. 49%), according to government data.
Many formerly religious Dutch people say they left their religion because they no longer believe in its teachings, according to the Pew Research Center. A significant number also claimed they just “gradually drifted away.”
Secularization among Christians has been the trend in the Netherlands since the 1960s, according to Jeroen Dewulf, a professor of Dutch studies at the University of California, Berkeley’s Institute of European Studies. Dewulf said that the Catholic Church, which has a stronger presence in the Netherlands than Protestant denominations, has also been facing a serious priest shortage.
“Many churches have been standing empty for years and they are so costly to maintain that alternative destinations for these churches have been sought,” Dewulf told HuffPost.
July 8, 2019
DETROIT (AP) — The Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit said Sunday that it removed a prominent priest from public ministry after reviewing what it described as a “credible allegation” that he had sexually abused a child decades ago.
The Rev. Eduard Perrone was suspended from ministry Friday, a month after The Associated Press began asking the pastor himself, the archdiocese and law enforcement authorities about a former altar boy’s allegations that Perrone had groped him.
Archdiocese officials told Perrone’s congregation at Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary Parish during services Sunday that members of the local archdiocese review board found a “semblance of truth” to the accusations, but that they are maintaining a presumption of innocence.
Some parishioners expressed shock when they heard, and one woman walked out of the service to gather herself outside. After Mass, a number of people stopped at the back of the church to ask questions of two archdiocesan officials and pick up a written statement about Perrone.
The pastor is prohibited from representing himself as a priest or wearing clerical attire while the Vatican reviews the allegations, the archdiocese said in the written statement.
The statement also said the archdiocese had reported the allegation to local law enforcement and the Michigan attorney general’s office. The attorney general’s office declined to comment last month, but it has an open investigation into clergy abuse in the Catholic Church in Michigan and charged five men who were priests with 21 counts of sexual misconduct in May.
The Detroit Archdiocese on Sunday added Perrone’s name to its list of dozens of credibly accused priests, many deceased. More than 140 religious orders and Roman Catholic dioceses have released similar lists. Most of those lists were either released or significantly updated since a Pennsylvania grand jury last summer detailed hundreds of cases of alleged abuse.
Perrone, who co-founded a nonprofit group called Opus Bono Sacerdotii in 2002 to support priests facing allegations of abuse or other problems, did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday. At the rectory where he lived, a woman who answered the door said there was “no way” to reach Perrone and asked a reporter to pray for the priest.
Last month, Perrone denied any wrongdoing when the AP asked him about the allegations that years ago, he would invite altar boys to his mother’s lake house where he would wrestle with them in the water for hours. At times, the wrestling turned to inappropriate grabbing and groping, said a former altar boy who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity to protect his privacy.
Perrone said it was the first he heard of any allegations against him.
“Never inappropriate touching,” he said. “I never ever would have done such a thing.”
He said other adults were always in attendance when they gathered at the lake house and everyone was “fully clothed.”
Perrone also denied allegations from two individuals that he served wine to minors, but then went on to describe offering wine to a child.
July 6, 2019
A Roman Catholic priest in Germany is facing backlash over a sermon urging parishioners to forgive pedophile priests.
About 70 parishioners stormed out of Holy Spirit Church of Münster in northwest Germany on Sunday, after realizing what exactly the Rev. Ulrich Zurkuhlen was asking them to do, Deutsche Welle reported.
The retired, 79-year-old priest was apparently attempting to preach about the importance of forgiveness in Christianity, using examples from the Bible to insist that pedophile priests deserve to be forgiven, too.
Zurkuhlen’s words did not sit well with parishioners, some of whom were reportedly victims of clerical abuse themselves. Members of the congregation started arguing with Zurkuhlen while he was preaching. The situation escalated quickly, which led to a crowd of angry parishioners walking out.
During an interview with Kirche-und-Leben (Church and Life), a news site for the Diocese of Münster, Zurkuhlen described the parishioners as a “screaming mob.” He bemoaned the fact that he wasn’t able to finish the sermon and get across his point.
Zurkuhlen complained about bishops referring to predator priests as “criminals,” even if the men were otherwise good at their jobs.
“Nobody is just profoundly evil,” the priest told Kirche-und-Leben. “Goodness and guilt are often combined with each other or stand side by side without touching.”
He added that the congregation’s reaction was a “real shock.”
Zurkuhlen’s sermon comes during a grim period for the global Roman Catholic Church, as it faces a renewed reckoning over clerical sexual abuse. High-profile abuse scandals have recently toppled prominent figures in the U.S., Australia and Chile.
Last September, a report commissioned by the German Bishops Conference concluded that at least 3,677 minors were abused by 1,670 Catholic clerics between 1946 and 2014. More than half of the victims were age 13 or younger.
The Rev. Stefan Rau, the congregation’s lead pastor, told Kirche-und-Leben that he regrets Zurkuhlen’s comments. The bishop of Münster, Felix Genn, has reportedly asked Zurkuhlen to stop preaching.
Rau said he believes forgiveness isn’t the duty of abuse victims.
“I always try to give my colleagues in the pastoral team encouragement,” Rau said. “But this was not possible this time.”
July 5, 2019
PARIS (AP) — France’s Catholic Church pronounced a priest guilty of sexually abusing multiple Boy Scouts over several years and defrocked him Thursday, an unusually strong move that reflects France’s growing reckoning with clergy sex abuse.
The ruling by a church tribunal was the latest development in a case with repercussions that reached the highest levels of French Catholic leadership and the Vatican itself. The priest, Bernard Preynat, already confessed to abusing Boy Scouts during the 1970s and 1980s.
Preynat is believed to have abused as many as 85 boys and faces trial in a French court next year. The church tribunal said its internal investigation found he committed “criminal acts of sexual character against minors under 16.”
The tribunal gave the maximum punishment allowed under church rules, stripping the priest of his clerical status. Citing repeated abuse and the large number of victims, it said Preynat abused his church-conferred authority as a Scout leader.
He has a month to appeal the decision.
“This is a great decision,” said Alexandre Hezez, who was abused by Preynat and sought to have the priest defrocked for years. “Experience shows that often (abusive priests) are just displaced to other dioceses. By preserving their capacity to celebrate, they retain their power over people.”
Noting the exceptionally firm language in the church ruling, he expressed hope it would set a precedent.
“It’s important to at last show … that they can face strong sanctions, without concessions,” Hezez told The Associated Press.
His victims allege church authorities covered up for Preynat for years, allowing him to have continued contact with children up until his 2015 retirement.
Among those accused of a cover-up in the Preynat case was France’s senior Catholic cleric, Cardinal Philippe Barbarin, and Cardinal Luis Ladaria, who now heads the Vatican office in charge of handling sex abuse cases.
Barbarin was convicted earlier this year of failing to report Preynat to police. Barbarin appealed but went to the Vatican to offer his resignation. Pope Francis refused to accept it.
French magistrates are also investigating accusations against the Vatican’s ambassador to France made by men who say he groped them. The envoy, Archbishop Luigi Ventura, has denied wrongdoing. The Vatican so far has not lifted his diplomatic immunity.
July 3, 2019
As we have often said, rabidly anti-gay male clergy are one short step away from sucking dicks in public bathrooms.
An anti-gay preacher has been arrested after confessing to his congregation that he had a sexual relationship with two young boys.
John Martin, is being held in the Lauderdale County Detention Center on four counts of sexual abuse first-degree.
Coty Hand, the Assistant District Attorney in Lauderdale County, says Martin resigned as pastor at Lighthouse Baptist Church and was arrested Friday night. He says they want anyone who thinks they were a victim to come forward.
WAAY 31 was in Florence and spoke with people who live near the church. We learned John Martin confessed to his congregation about the crimes.
According to the Lighthouse Baptist Church website, Martin has been preaching there since 2010. WAAY 31 reached out to several congregation members to ask about these accusations, but we have not gotten a response.
A man who lives less than a block away from the church, Lewis Gist, said he had no idea something like this could have been going on down the street.
“You wouldn’t expect it at a church. That would be the last place you expect it,” Gist said.
That’s the first place you should expect it.
The Lauderdale County Sheriff’s Office says they believe the victims involved were children at the church. They would not say the ages, gender or how many victims they believe there are.
The sheriff’s office did say the four charges against Martin could be all for one victim or for multiple victims, and the charges are for any child under 17 years old. His bond is set at $60,000.
The church’s Facebook page shows out of 25 reviews, it has a 4.8 out of 5 rating. In one review, a woman said, “Pastor Martin I love you and your family. Thank you for making me and my children feel loved and welcome.”
On Monday, someone commented on that review saying, “I hope your children were safe there.”
The woman who wrote the review said they always were and went on to say she felt bad for Martin’s wife and children.
WAAY 31 stopped by Martin’s home and was asked to leave immediately. We combed through state court records and could not find a past criminal history for Martin.
“My youngest grandson is 15. Something like that happened to him, I don’t know what I’d do,” Gist said.
July 2, 2019
Baptist pastor Robert Jeffress suggested that Democratic 2020 candidates aren’t talking about the “real God” when they talk about their faith.
Jeffress, a longtime supporter of President Donald Trump, warned evangelicals at a conference in Washington, D.C., this weekend not to be “fooled” when Democratic 2020 presidential candidates talk about their faith.
“When they talk about God, they are not talking about the real God — the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, the God who revealed Himself in the Bible,” Jeffress said Saturday, according to The Christian Post. “These liberal Democrats are talking about an imaginary God they have created in their own minds: a god who loves abortion and hates Israel.”
As opposed to Jeffress’ invisible sky daddy.
Jeffress, pastor of First Baptist Dallas and an evangelical adviser to the president, was delivering a speech on the final day of the Faith & Freedom Coalition policy conference, an event that highlights evangelical voters’ top issues. The Faith & Freedom Coalition plans to spend at least $50 million on get-out-the-vote efforts ahead of the 2020 presidential election.
During his speech, Jeffress offered an analysis of Democrats’ attempts to reach faith-based voters. Democrats have realized that they have a “God problem,” Jeffress said, and are trying to solve it by talking more openly about God and their personal faith.
Some of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates have talked about how their religious beliefs inform their political views. During a progressive faith conference last month, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) spoke about how the biblical parable of the Good Samaritan who went out of his way to help a stranger in need has shaped her views on public policy.