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


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

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

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

Prosecutors outline evidence in case against KC priest


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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

Chaput removes two, returns four priests to ministry


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

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

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

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

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

Guilty verdict in Philadelphia a first in sex abuse cases


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

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

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



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

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

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

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

Priest heading controversial Cleveland community threatened with suspension


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

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

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

Meeting minutes: Dolan's Milwaukee archdiocese paid accused priests to leave


MILWAUKEE -- The Milwaukee archdiocese has acknowledged it paid sexually abusive priests $20,000 to leave the priesthood without taking the laicization fight to the Vatican.

A reference to the payout policy was made in the minutes of a 2003 meeting of the archdiocesan finance council, headed by then Milwaukee Archbishop Timothy Dolan, now cardinal archbishop of New York and head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Vatican's assessment of LCWR about fear, not doctrine



The Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith's April 18 doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious is not about doctrine. It is not primarily about protecting the faith or ensuring an ecclesiology of communion, no matter how many times these terms are woven through the report. It is fundamentally about fear -- fear of the loss of power -- and the willful use of dominative control to defend that power.

The abundance of religious themes and language do not mask this punitive effort to shore up the crumbling authority of hierarchical leaders. Nor does the document hide the anger that roils beneath the protestations of gratitude and concern. The final report of the LCWR assessment reveals a desperate attempt on the part of some fearful and angry church leaders to protect their turf -- to maintain an all-male church leadership, to keep women and laypeople under their authority, and to shield the homophobic-homosexual subculture in the leadership of the Catholic church.

When fear rules



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July 14-27, 2017