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Child and youth sexual abuse by clergy

Child & youth sexual abuse in the
Catholic Church, 2010-OCT to 2011-NOV

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This is a continuation of an earlier essay on the same topic.

2010-OCT-30: Rally of abuse survivors in Rome:

Victims of abuse by Roman Catholic priests from countries across the world gathered in Rome to deliver a unified message to the Vatican through a massive rally:

1

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2010-NOV-23: TX: Priest accused of trying to hire a hit man to assassinate male youth:

Fr. John Fiala allegedly molested a boy in his mid-teens during 2007 and 2008 while the priest was at the Sacred Heart of Mary Parish in Rocksprings, West Texas. On two occasions he allegedly forced the youth to have sex at gunpoint. According to attorney Tom Rhodes in San Antonio, Fiala "... began saying, 'If you tell anyone, I'll hurt you. I'll hurt your family, your girlfriend.' It was more than once he threatened him with a gun."

During 2010-APR, The youth's family launched a lawsuit against Fr. Fiala, the Archdiocese of San Antonio, and its Archbishop Jose Gomez. They allege that the church leadership should have known that Fiala was abusive.

A neighbor of Fiala in suburban Dallas allegedly contacted Rhodes' office, saying that Fiala had approached him offering money to kill the teenager. The police were notified and investigators organized a sting operation . They said that Fiala had negotiated a price of $5,000 to assassinate the youth. He was arrested has been charged with one count of solicitation to commit capital murder and two counts of aggravated sexual assault of a child.

Attorney Rhodes said that Fiala is "... a dangerous predator and has been since at least 1988. The church has known how dangerous this guy is for many, many years. They had full knowledge, we believe, and the documents seem to bear that out — that they knew what a bad person he was and what a danger he was to children."

The church removed him from the priesthood in 2008-OCT because of an unrelated incident. 2

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2011-FEB-10: PA: Four priests and a teacher charged with sexual abuse of teen boys:

Over five years ago, a Philadelphia grand jury excoriated the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia for an "immoral cover-up" of its sexually abusive clergy and for creating what it described as a cliamate that exposed hundreds of children to assault. Much of their report focused on Archbishop Bevilacqua -- who served from 1988 to 2003 -- and on Secretary for Clergy Msgr. William Lynn who served in that position from 1992 to 2004.

The jury report claimed that Lynn treated the abuse victims:

"... as potential plaintiffs. Not only did they not receive apologies acknowledging their abuse, but many were bullied, intimidated, lied to, even investigated themselves. ... It became apparent to the Grand Jurors that Msgr. Lynn was handling the cases precisely as his boss [Bevilacqua] wished. 3 ... We do know that over the years Cardinal Bevilacqua was kept closely advised of Monsignor Lynn's activities, and personally authorized many of them . . . [but] we cannot conclude that a successful prosecution can be brought against the Cardinal - at least for the moment." 4

According to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the report: "

"... also accused Lynn of repeatedly failing to investigate abuse charges, reassigning abusive priests, and concealing their crimes from civil authorities and the Catholic laity."

Such behavior has been observed in other Catholic dioceses in the U.S., Canada, and in other countries. By reassigning abusive priests and not warning the receiving dioceses, the priests were able to resume their abuse with a new group of teens and other children.

On 2011-FEB-10, District Attorney Seth Williams announced that Monsignor Lynn has been charged with two felony counts for allegedly failing to protect children from sexual abuse by priests. Williams also announced the Rev. Charles Engelhardt, 64, Rev. Edward Avery, 68, Rev James Brennan, 47, and 6th grade teacher Bernard Shero, 47, were charged with raping and sexually assaulting boys. The attacks allegedly happened at various times between 1998 and 2000. Williams that said Lynn: "supervised two of the abusers, ... knew they were dangerous, and chose to expose them to new victims." 3

Referring to Monsignore Lynn, the Philadelphia Inquirer said:

"It's believed to be the first time a high-ranking Catholic official has been accused of being criminally accountable for covering up priest abuse."

If found guilty, Lynn faces up to 14 years in jail, while Avery, Brennan, Engelhardt, and Shero face up to 67 years.

Barbara Dorris, outreach director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) said:

"This news means that finally one of the hundreds of complicit Catholic officials who have hidden or are hiding clergy sex crimes might be brought to justice." 4

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2011-NOV-12: Pope Benedict claims pedophelia once not considered "absolute evil:"

During a speech before cardinals and other Vatican officials in Rome, Pope Benedict XVI stated that:

  • Pedophelia wasn't considered an "absolute evil" as recently as the 1970's. He said:

    "In the 1970s, paedophilia was theorised as something fully in conformity with man and even with children,”

    “It was maintained -- even within the realm of Catholic theology -- that there is no such thing as evil in itself or good in itself. There is only a 'better than' and a 'worse than'. Nothing is good or bad in itself."

  • Child pornography is increasingly being considered "normal" by society.

  • Revelations during 2010 reached an "unimaginable dimension [that brought] humiliation" on the Church. He called on senior clerics "to repair as much as possible the injustices that occurred."

  • Sex tourism in the Third World was "threatening an entire generation."

Andrew Madden, of Dublin, a victim of church sexual abuse said that child abuse was not considered normal in his culture. He said:

"That is not normal. I don’t know what company the Pope has been keeping for the past 50 years."

Barbara Blain, head of the Survivor's Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) responded:

"Catholics should be embarrassed to hear their Pope talk again and again about abuse while doing little or nothing to stop it and to mischaracterise this heinous crisis. ... It is fundamentally disturbing to watch a brilliant man so conveniently misdiagnose a horrific scandal. ... The Pope insists on talking about a vague 'broader context' he can’t control, while ignoring the clear 'broader context'  he can influence –- the long-standing and unhealthy culture of a rigid, secretive, all-male Church hierarchy fixated on self-preservation at all costs. This is the 'context' that matters." 5,6

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Sadly, this topic continues.

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
  1. "Church abuse victims call for action," AlJazeeraEnglish, 2010-OCT-30, at: http://www.youtube.com/
  2. Will Weissert, "Texas priest accused of trying to hire hit man," Associated Press, 2010-NOV-23, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  3. David O'Reilly, "4 priests charged in sex abuse investigation," http://www.philly.com/
  4. Dana DiFilippo, "Grand-jury report on abuse targets priests, teacher, even a cardinal," The Philadelphia Inquirer, 2011-FEB-11, at: http://www.philly.com/
  5. T. Kelly, "Pope says child rape isn't that bad, was normal back in his day," Exposing the Truth, 2011-NOV-13, at: http://exposingthetruth.info/
  6. "Pope’s child porn 'normal' claim sparks outrage among victims," Belfast Telegraph, 2010-DEC-21, at: http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/

Copyright © 2010 to 2011 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2010-OCT
Latest update: 2011-NOV-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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