Voices from Russia

Saturday, 19 July 2014

Catholic Church Lawyer Details Cover-Up Claims on Sex Abuse

01 sweep under rug



This is a read n’ heed… our people act in the same way. I need only mention the names of Gleb Podmoshensky, Panteleimon Metropoulos, Isidore Brittain, Sam Greene, and Seraphim Storheim. The lies issued forth by the institutional church and by the goodthinkers are disgusting and without warrant. Toddler assholes like Rod Dreher should shut up about the Catholics… we do the same exact thing (sadly enough).

Note well that the OCA hasn’t given up on denying Storheim’s guilt… they’re wasting the donations of the faithful in a bootless attempt to clear a perv. You can believe Mr Justice Mainella or you can believe Jeff Gindin (Storheim’s shyster mouthpiece)… I believe the former… he found Storheim and his lawyer “without credibility”. I agree. We have a shit-spattered byre to clean and we have no call to point fingers. This story illustrates a crank institutional culture that we share in its entirety. We’ve fallen and we REFUSE to get up. After all, didn’t the OCA give Peterson a “Get Out of Jail Free” card? ‘Nuff said…



A canon lawyer alleging a widespread cover-up of clergy sex misconduct in the Archdiocese of St Paul and Minneapolis made her most detailed claims yet, accusing archbishops and their top staff of lying to the public and of ignoring the American bishops’ pledge to have no tolerance of priests who abuse. Jennifer Haselberger, who spent five years as Archbishop John Nienstedt’s archivist and top adviser on Roman Catholic church law, also charged that the church used a chaotic system of record-keeping that helped conceal the backgrounds of guilty priests who remained on assignment. Haselberger said that when she started examining records in 2008 of clergy under restrictions over sex misconduct with adults and children she found “nearly 20” of the 48 men still in ministry.

She said that she repeatedly warned Nienstedt and his aides about the risk of these placements, but they took action only in one case. Because she raised alarms, she said that they eventually shut her out of meetings about clerical misconduct. She resigned last year. Haselberger wrote in an affidavit released Tuesday in a civil lawsuit brought by attorney Jeff Anderson, “Had there been any serious desire to implement change, it could’ve been done quickly and easily with the stroke of a single pen. The archbishop’s administrative authority in his diocese is basically unlimited”.

For years, the archdiocese pledged that it was following the national bishops’ policy, known as the “Charter for the Protection of Children and Young People”, which lays out a series of requirements… from conducting background checks to alerting parishioners about offender priests and barring guilty clergy from parish assignments. Archbishop Harry Flynn, who led the Minneapolis archdiocese until retiring in 2008, was an architect of the 12-year-old plan. However, Haselberger said that she discovered in 2008 that the archdiocese hadn’t conducted background checks on most priests since the early 1990s.

When she drew attention to the lapse, she said that they told her to eliminate references to the date of background checks in a form pledging a priest is suitable for ministry. Haselberger said that she found priests’ records scattered in storage locations throughout the archdiocese, including the history of allegations against them, their compliance with the monitoring programme, and evidence of their misconduct. She said, “The presence of so many files in so many different locations meant that often important information didn’t make its way into the priest’s personnel file”.

She also said the archdiocese gave inaccurate information to auditors hired by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops to monitor dioceses’ compliance with the child protection plan. Haselberger noted that the auditors didn’t have access to church files to check whether the archdiocese’s report matched the records. She said, “They would’ve found out that it didn’t”. Auxiliary Bishop Andrew Cozzens said in a statement that Haselberger’s “recollections aren’t always shared by others within the archdiocese”. He said that the archdiocese was taking steps toward “greater transparency and accountability”.

Since the clergy abuse scandal began in 1984, then, erupted into a national crisis in 2002, the American church has been flooded with revelations… from civil lawsuits, grand jury inquiries, and the bishops’ own research… about how dioceses consistently put the interests of the church above victims. Still, Haselberger’s accusations stand out because of her credentials and timing. She’s the highest-level official from an American diocese to make claims of a cover-up. A canon lawyer educated at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium, she served as a judge on church tribunals in Minnesota and was trained through the US bishops’ conference on child safety and monitoring guilty clergy. In addition, Haselberger is coming forward in what Anderson calls “real time”. The bulk of previous disclosures about American bishops sheltering abusers were made years, if not decades, after the wrongdoing. Haselberger alleges a cover-up is happening now in Minnesota.

When Haselberger’s allegations first became public in a series of reports last September by Minnesota Public Radio, the archdiocese initially defended its record on preventing abuse. Since then, Nienstedt apologised for any mistakes and said in a deposition that he hid some information on accused clergy from police. A task force Nienstedt formed to review how the archdiocese handled abuse claims released a report in April conceding “serious shortcomings” by church officials. Haselberger said that the Rev Kevin McDonough… the archdiocese’s vicar general or top aide for 17 years, and brother of White House chief of staff Denis McDonough… never accepted the discipline plan American bishops adopted in 2002 that streamlined church law so that the dioceses could bar guilty priests from ministry or remove them from the priesthood altogether.

McDonough continued his previous approach of striking agreements with accused offenders to remain priests but stay away, sometimes providing them extra payments to do so. McDonough oversaw clergy misconduct cases until last September. Haselberger wrote, “He explained to me his position that dismissal wasn’t the right solution for the church”. Haselberger said that McDonough called the archdiocese’s monitoring system for priests guilty of sex misconduct “state of the art”. However, she said that the program relied heavily on self-reporting by guilty priests with no verification of what they reported. In one example, she said that Rev Robert Kapoun, accused of molesting several young boys, is enrolled in the monitoring program, but spends the winter months in Florida without oversight. Another priest, just out of prison after his conviction for victimising an adult woman during counselling, was placed in a retired priests’ home where minors worked. Haselberger said that the archdiocese learned of the problem from the priest’s probation officer. She said that when top Nienstedt lieutenant Rev Peter Laird learned about the problem, he said that the young people should be fired. Laird resigned as vicar general last September. He didn’t respond Tuesday to an e-mail request for comment.

Meanwhile, Nienstedt announced on 1 July that allegations were made against him several months ago of inappropriate sexual behaviour and he’d hired a firm to investigate. Nienstedt told the Catholic magazine Commonweal that he’d never engaged in sexual misconduct, nor had he made any sexual advances. Haselberger told Commonweal that the firm interviewed her, and investigators have about 10 sworn statements alleging sexual impropriety by Nienstedt. Last year, Minnesota lawmakers temporarily abolished time limits on civil lawsuits over child sex abuse, for three years. Similar windows for lawsuits in other states have resulted in total payouts by dioceses in the tens of millions of dollars and more.

15 July 2014

Rachel Zoll

Associated Press



We’ve done all of the above… and more. Look at how Paffhausen defended Ray Velencia… I’d say that the public record of the Koumentakos case speaks eloquently of both of these men. Also, don’t forget how JP allowed Ray, a priest under suspension, to present himself as a priest in good standing at a GOAA parish, and to sue Fr Michael Regan, a priest in good standing. Now, that’s something that’s never occurred amongst the RCs… a suspended priest suing a priest in good standing… that’s special, ain’t it? No, we have NOTHING to chortle about… we’re in WORSE shape than the RCs are, and we won’t get anywhere until we admit it and stop defending the plug-uglies.

However, must we drain the cup to the bottom? I hope not…



Friday, 28 September 2012

Religion and Politics: Why Faith Flourishes This Presidential Election


A poll done by Pew Research Center showed how certain religious groups tend to side with one party over the other. Data like this leads us to suspect that our religious affiliation could determine whom we vote for. Yet, opposing evidence suggests otherwise. The ultimate question is how our faith may just as well influence who wins the American Presidential election this year. In their findings, they compared which religious groups identified with either the Republican or Democratic Party for both 2008 and 2011. The results showed that there was an increase in Mormons leaning toward Republicans, along with Jews and Mainline Protestants.

The ideals that are within any religion are sacred and holy. Still, political commotion could get mixed in with devout congregations, as some talking points are shared between groups. For instance, take gay marriage, which many politicians have a stance on, whether it is acceptable or not, and even abortion. Both of these topics are debated on the campaign trail and within religious groups. Matthew Wilson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University explained to VOR, “Religion is a primary identification. It’s one of the things that we take on from a very early age, and it’s much more all-encompassing than politics is. I mean, religion and our religious commitments shape every aspect of our lives, from our family life, to our life in community, to the values that we bring to our work life, and politics is aspect of that”. Wilson went on to say that he gathers that it’s right to see religion as a more primary attachment, allegiance, and value-set, and politics is kind of a secondary one that might stem from that. Despite religion acting as a stronger base for Americans, in a Gallup survey conducted in 2012, 18 percent of Americans say that they wouldn’t vote for a Mormon presidential candidate, that’s nearly one in five.

Debbie Hines trial lawyer, former prosecutor, and legal/political commentator, told VOR, “I don’t accept the premise that religion alone is what affects an overall decision on a vote”. Hines isn’t alone in this opinion. A poll that came out in July of this year stated that 66 percent of Americans believe religion is losing its influence in their life. Some think it’s good that religion isn’t as compelling as it used to be, but only a small proportion accepts this ideology. Hines, who wrote an article on church and politics on the Huffington Post website, said, “The world’s just so much more complicated universally now than what it was earlier, and I think that that ties into religion not having as much as an impact, combined with other factors that have an impact on politics”.

Nobody tells the religion overpowering politics story better than the people themselves. On the Minnesota Public Radio website, they asked their followers if religious beliefs affect the way they vote. Comments on this poll poured in about why they choose the answer they did. Joel said, “The specific religion of a candidate doesn’t impact my voting, but how they engage in their religion does”. Another viewer named Greg posted that religion strongly affects his voting; if he senses that a candidate has strong religious beliefs, he’s inclined not to vote for them. Others contributors said that religion has no power over which politician they select.

As with every social debate over whether or not our faith predicts our future decisions in the voting booth, there always seems to be an exception to this rule. On the Pew Forum, a different report released in September 2012 revealed that the Democratic Party still holds a strong advantage over Republicans with Black Protestants. SMU Professor Wilson clarified, “Race triumphs over religion, race triumphs over economics, African-Americans are overwhelmingly Democratic, have been for 40 years. That holds pretty much, no matter what other allegiances they may hold”. Wilson wrote From Pews to Polling Places, and he’ll be coming out with another book in 2013, on the topic of religion and politics. Even though the percentage is undeniably high amongst this demographic, Hines sees it from a different viewpoint. She said that when it’s all said and done, African-Americans are no different from white Evangelicals, in the sense that they base their voting on their values, on what’s important to them.

Election Day will be here before we know it. Dozens of policies including gay marriage and abortion will cross our minds before we finally pick. A deep influence in that very decision may be the God factor. Nevertheless, definitely, our decision shouldn’t one based solely on religion, but we should ground it in the ideals that are close to our hearts, and which line up with our own moral values.

28 September 2012

Sarah Neary

Voice of Russia World Service


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